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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Anxiety About Conflict Brings About Conflict

My subconscious belief has always been that conflict is a monster. A hideous monster. One that we should avoid at all costs. 

So that the moment any hint of conflict appears, we must make every effort to get rid of it.

A further hidden belief was that conflict is so intolerable, so awful, that we must surface it immediately the moment any hint of it appears.

That by surfacing it, we would somehow inevitably "discuss" it and "negotiate" it and finally, in the end, make it go away.

To operate your life in such a manner is of course extremely dangerous.

Not all conflict must be articulated!

You have to pick your battles.

Reminds me of a story - one time, a long time ago, I was walking home (this was in the Bronx) and passed a gang of young teens roaming around the street, yelling and fighting and generally making trouble. 

Of course, conflict is intolerable, right? (At this point you are allowed to start shaking your head...) So I started to walk up to this gang, prepared to tell them to cut it out.

Thank God, my survival instincts kicked in.

I walked back across the street, away from the kids. And got home as quickly as I could.

"RESPOND, DON'T REACT."

Entering into conflict is a choice. 

It may not feel like a choice, but it is.

Here's what recent training taught me to do:
  • Expect conflict to occur.
  • View it as a potentially positive development, one that can spur growth through change.
  • Also view it as a potentially negative development, one that can escalate harmfully.
  • Stop and think about the fact that you have a choice.

In the end, you can walk away, you can fight to win, or you can find a middle ground.

But you are never, ever the victim -- unless you  choose to think of yourself that way.

_____
Posted July 28, 2017 by Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. This post is public domain.