The 3 Places Conflict Lives – and how to address them

When I think of conflict or an issue between people, I picture it being physically in the space between the two of them.

But I’ve realized that the conflicts in my life actually begin within me.

Even if the other person feels upset first, the first place that I become aware of it is inside myself, when I start to feel some negative emotion about what’s going on.

It’s like there is a mini version of the two of us inside my chest, arguing things out.

I guess they are actually inside my brain but it feels like they are inside my chest. Which makes sense because I believe it’s how we feel about something that makes it a conflict / issue.

The Second Place

If I try to address the issue while I’m experiencing negative emotion, the negativity and conflict spill over into the space between me and the other person, amplifying whatever negativity was there before.

This can happen in really subtle ways like a fleeting facial expression, a bit of tension in my voice, or a slightly aggressive word choice. I may not even realize what’s going on. But it’s out there for the other person to detect – and they do.

The Third Place

And so the conflict spreads to the third place – inside the other person. Where they have their own little version of the two of us in conflict going on.

Because whenever they feel that I’m in a negative emotional state, especially if it’s anything to do with them, they experience their own negative emotional state – whether it’s anxiety, annoyance, defensiveness, or hurt.

And if they were already feeling that way, it amplifies that state.

That then spills back over into the space between us. And so the conflict deepens the more we try to address it.

The First Place to Resolve Issues

So to resolve issues, the first place we need to start is within ourselves.

That’s why the first thing I teach is an amazing process that we can use any time we realize we’re in conflict with other people or ourselves – whenever we feel any negative emotion.

It produces a profound sense of relief and calm that enables us to deal effectively with whatever the issue is so that it can actually get resolved with the other person.

We don’t have to settle for just “saying our piece” or “getting it off our chest” – we can actually address the issue in a way that it doesn’t come up again.

And that is really significant because most relationships have only between 2 and 5 key issues. So once you’ve effectively handled those you have a lot more time and energy to enjoy life and the people around you.

Where to Begin

The first two steps that have dramatically reduced the amount of unpleasantness and conflict in my life whenever I use them:

  1. Before you speak, notice how you feel.
    .
  2. If you feel any “negative” emotions like anger, frustration, hurt or worry, don’t try to talk about the related topic right now. Instead, “pause” the conversation in some way.
    .
    Sometimes I just need to walk away. Other times I can offer a few words of explanation, like “I know this is important. And I just need to take some time to get ready.”

A Next Step

If you would like to learn the process I mentioned above that produces that profound sense of relief and calm when you find yourself in conflict with someone else (or critical of yourself) – so that you can effectively address the issue, click on this link.

If you’ve already learned the process, but don’t find yourself using it as often as would be helpful, get the support of a welcoming and encouraging community.

And remember that anything you’ve ever said, done or thought has been seeking to meet positive needs, needs that you can find ways to meet.

Warmly, :-) Glenda

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