The Bright Side of Conflict 

For years I avoided facing issues head on out of a naive desire to help. I was always the peacemaker. If something blew up among friends or family, I was the first to throw water on the fire. 

In college a friend of mine had this nasty habit of intentionally dealing with issues as soon as they happened. On the other hand, he was also able to move on just as quickly, while I sat seething in my most martyr like forgiveness. At first I considered him rude and obstinate, but in reality, he was good at communication. 

Growing up with addiction and abuse, talking about problems was not only frowned upon, but punished. It’s little wonder that many of us avoid conflict at all costs. Our lives are already unstable enough. But as my friend showed me, stirring the pot can actually resolve issues:

Intentionally facing conflict can:

  • End codependent people pleasing habits.
  • End the walking on egg shells, and bring resolution to the tension we are attempting to assuage.
  • Help us develop habits of good communication 
  • Establish strong boundaries and personal strengths 
  • Show a person has a strong grasp on their identity and value
  • Avoid resentments and the murky bog of assumptions
  • Learn to respect the needs and views of others
  • Teach us new culture and world views 
  • Improve relationships through forgiveness and healing

While intentionally avoiding conflict creates:

  • Denial
  • Praying in a forced sense of spirituality rather than communicating and healing 
  • False forgiveness leading to resentments 
  • Ignoring one another and emotional distancing
  • Additional conflicts
  • Long-term mental health issues
  • Fear and walking on eggshells
  • Facade and masks
  • Even to the point of sabotaging the relationship itself.

Rather than being a negative or a sign of failure, conflict can bear the fruit of unity, acceptance, and forgiving love. When difficult subjects are faced with tact and kindness, relationships can flourish and grow. 

Like my friend, our ability to step into tension shows we are emotionally mature enough to resolve hard issues. Conflict resolution is a sign of wisdom and enlightenment, commanding the respect due a noble heart warm with happiness and love. 

Shayne Mason Vincent, MSW
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