Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Simple Action Can Soothe The Pain of Conflict

Have you ever felt like you were in a conflict that you couldn't win or resolve?  Perhaps it's with our boss, kids, spouse, friend, neighbor. We can't seem to make them understand or don't see any reason behind why they treated us the way they did.

Or perhaps our conflict was with life. Why couldn't things have worked out for me the way they did for my friend? Why does trouble seem to follow me or our family?

Maybe we've been tugging against God Himself. Good luck with that by the way but I've done it too. We wonder why God seems to have allowed bad things to happen -  we lose our job, struggle financially or can't work things out so we can and be happy and content for a while.

So what do we do?  Often we pull harder so to speak. We get more angry, try more logic or become even more demanding that others change and come through for us. And while things and people don't change we do. We become bitter and hard to live with most of the time. Our health can suffer and life simply isn't fun anymore.

I have a suggestion. If you were in a real tug-of-war that you didn't want to engage in, you could stop it quickly, right?  Just drop your end of the rope. The other person or persons can keep pulling until Jesus comes back but you're not in the contest.

Well, we can do the same when we're in an emotional contest with someone. We can drop the rope there too. How?

Lots of ways. One is to change your responses. That means that you quit arguing, shut down your end of a conversation or agree to disagree. You don't have to keep going in the conflict.

Some will feel like this is giving in but it's not. We can let someone else win. We can let them at least think they've won, believe they are smarter or whatever.  We know better but we also accept that they don't need to understand us or what we're doing. Let them deal with the conflict if they want.

A second option is to not demand anymore. Do not demand that the othe person change or agree with you. Don't demand that you look good. Don't require that they like you. There are times when even those we love might not connect with us for a time. They will likely get over it and so will you. High expectations are often the cause for why we feel like we must prevail in conflict.

Third, use language that frees you.  For example get comfortable with phrases like, "I guess we're going to have to disagree,"  or "Tell me more about that," or "I'm sorry that we can't be on the same page on this but it's OK."

Sometimes we literally have to hear ourselves say that we're not going to engage, try to win or let another person's actions ruin our day, week or month.

Yes, conflict is inevitable in marriages, family and life in general. But it doesn't have to own us or rule the day. Just learn to drop the rope.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

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