You can be in conflict with someone and still stay connected: Here is how

One of the most underrated life skills: how to be in conflict with someone and still stay connected.

Here’s how (🧵):

Conflict is a natural, healthy part of life.

Yet, many of us have experienced conflict that leads to: betrayal, rejection, abandonment, and withdrawing.

Our parent figures teach us how to navigate conflict through how they navigate conflict.

Many of us witnessed dysfunctional behavior like:

– Name calling

– Silent treatment

– Shaming “you’re too sensitive” “why are you being dramatic, get over it.”

– Scorekeeping: one upping each other

– Deflection: re-directing blame to our partner

– Projection: a defense mechanism of attributing traits a person doesn’t like about themselves onto someone else

– Denial: pretending issues don’t exist or downplaying them “it wasn’t that bad” “you’re making this bigger than it is.”

These unhealthy dynamics play out in our adult relationships.

This is because we never learned healthy conflict relationship skills.

When we don’t learn this, conflict becomes overwhelming, scary, or something to avoid.

Many people see conflict as a sign that the person isn’t “for them” or that the relationship won’t work out.

The truth is conflict is a part of all relationships.

Learning how to resolve conflict creates healthier relationships.

Healthy partnerships have awareness that:

– Conflict is unavoidable

– When there’s conflict, we talk about it, directly

– The goal of conflict is for deeper understanding of each other’s perspectives, not to “win”

– Our nervous system dictates our ability to communicate, and we may need breaks

– My partner has my best interest at heart, even when we disagree

– Disagreement is neutral, and we don’t need to agree on everything in order to find a solution.
How to start having healthy conflict:

1. Childhood inventory: our childhood has a massive impact on how we view conflict and engage in it. Do a childhood inventory with your partner by asking them how parent figure (s) dealt with conflict.

note: not only with another parent, but conflict with friends, family, even strangers. Did they shut down, were they highly reactive, hostile, etc.

This will lead to better mutual understanding of each other.

2. Active listening: active listening is the act of truly being present to what another person says.

This is difficult, because most of us are just preparing for what we’ll stay next, or “debunking” what our partner is saying.

This only creates defensiveness. Breathe and listen to what the person is actually saying from a space of curiousity.

3. Reflection: we all have a deep need to be heard. When your partner shares, before stating your side, reflect on what they’ve said.

Ex: “So, when I did that it hurt because you felt like I wasn’t considering you.”

“So when I tell you I’m coming home and I’m late, you get anxious, is that right?”

“When I withdraw, you feel rejected, and need me to vocalize that I need a break”

4. Nervous System Awareness: when our nervous system is in: fight flight freeze or fawn, we lose the ability to access the logical part of our brain that allows for clear communication.

Our body is in threat mode.

You’ll know you’re in this mode when your mind is racing, your heart is racing, and you can’t seem to get words out.

note: we’re more likely to access this state if we’ve been through childhood trauma during conflict. Be aware of your partner’s history.

It’s important to say: “I need a break, we can come back to this when or (at specific time.)”

5. Solution focused: in dysfunctional relationships, there’s deep need for control.

Partner’s attempt to gain this control by bringing up past incidents to build their case (scorekeeping.)

To resolve conflict, we have to end scorekeeping and begin practicing being solution focused.

Being solution focused means, staying on course with the present issue and attempting to find a solution that benefits all partners.

ex: “You feel like you’re doing most of the chores, and I can see that. What chores can I specifically help with?”

6. Affirm and reassure: conflict is scary for all of us. It can help to hug each other, tell each other you love each other, or hold hands in silence during or after the issue.

note: speak directly to what you need “I could use reassurance right now.”

7. Stop using absolutes: “You always do” “You never do” “Not surprised, you did that again!” are all statements that put our partner on the defensive.

Speak for yourself.

It will feel vulnerable (maybe scary) but keep the focus on your feelings “I felt..”

Regardless of our backgrounds, we can all practice staying connected during conflict.

Our relationships will be: safer, stronger, and more fulfilling if we put in this work.

If this thread was valuable, follow me: @Theholisticpsyc and share with people you love.

I’m a holistic psychologist who writes threads with tips and tools for healing yourself, every day.

Follow: @Theholisticpsyc

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