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The Key to Transforming Conflict in Your Relationships into Connection

Conflict is an unavoidable part of life.  When we want to have close and strong relationships with others, the way we handle conflict defines those relationships. In my experience, both personal and professional, conflict happens when there’s a clash of differing perspectives accompanied by strong emotions.  We can successfully handle any interpersonal conflict when we can […]

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Conflict is an unavoidable part of life.  When we want to have close and strong relationships with others, the way we handle conflict defines those relationships.

In my experience, both personal and professional, conflict happens when there’s a clash of differing perspectives accompanied by strong emotions.  We can successfully handle any interpersonal conflict when we can effectively manage our emotions.

The Basics

Taking regular care of yourself is essential to being able to bring your best to any relationship.

On a daily basis, it’s generally a good idea to prioritize getting enough sleep, exercise, the right diet, nutrition, and hydration (not drinking enough water can lead to fatigue and crankiness too!).  I, for one, find myself much more irritable when I’m “hangry” or don’t get enough sleep.

Pay Attention

For the most part, we’ve been raised to think rather than feel.  And we can have a really hard time being ok with the not-so-pretty emotions of ourselves and others.  As a result, we can feel less compassionate and isolated.

The first thing we can do when someone says or does something that irks us is to notice what we feel – instead of just automatically launching into defensive mode.  Because when we lash out in anger or hurt against someone we love, it only makes things worse.

So, if you want a strong close relationship with someone, make managing your emotions a top priority.

Let’s say you’re really angry about something your spouse said to you.  You might try telling yourself I’m noticing the thought that _____.  And you can ask yourself if that thought is really true (chances are, I’ve found, it’s not).

If you tend to believe your thought, you can then label the feeling you’re having.  As you name the emotion, feel what the emotion physically feels like in your body (for example, pounding heart, neck muscles tightened, queasy stomach).

The key is to put all thoughts on hold and separate out just experiencing the feeling.  This allows you to notice rather than be, the emotion, thought, and physical sensation.

I’ve found it extremely helpful to practice noticing your thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations every day to make it a habit.  That way, you’ll have it available when it matters most to turn relationship conflict into meaningful connections.

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