The Nature Of Conflict

Angry little girl put her bear on its head

The nature of every relationship is to present us with challenges important for our personal development and spiritual growth. Learning to be in right relationship is the primary reason that we as human beings exist. Sharing our lives with others is a lifelong journey that requires skill. Each human being has differences and differences are always going to be a part of every relationship. The difference between relationships that work and those that do not depend on how well people deal with the conflicting challenges bound to come up.

We all have our own unique way of thinking, feeling, seeing, and expressing ourselves. Too many of us tend to assume we know when our knowledge is rarely complete. Many of us often become emotional and or angry when we experience people with values and beliefs that differ from our own. If we are not able to accept the incompleteness within our limited knowledge then conflict as our teacher comes into play. It is born to make us more aware of how we are responding to the differences at any given point in time.

At the core, the nature of conflict is often about unhealthy and unresolved psychological needs from the past. When these unmet needs surface, we tend to react in a defensive and self-protective manner. We usually do not give any benefit of doubt, because we are putting our energy into reliving these unhealthy negative experiences in our mind. This enables us to justify our inability to exercise self-control and lash out. Lashing out either verbally or physically is a form of abuse that usually stems from our need to control or have power over a situation when in reality the only thing we can have complete control and power over are our own thoughts, attitudes, and actions.

It always takes two to make or break any relationship. No one person can ever be completely responsible for what is right or what is wrong. However, we are always completely responsible for maintaining our own behavior when our buttons are being pushed. When a person or country uses any act of violence or abuse it is a very serious statement that things are not in right relationship. Therefore, we must break the cycle of lashing out and placing blame. We must stop finding fault and work toward managing and resolving conflict in more appropriate ways.

It is impossible for people to know instinctively what another may want or need. In order to have our wants, needs, and expectations met we must first learn how to communicate them. Good communication requires good listening. We cannot speak and listen at the same time. Listening requires silence so that we may begin to hear without judgment. Exercising our listening muscles helps us to move “out of the box” so that we may ask questions to confirm our understanding. The practice of asking questions and allowing another to answer help us to gain more clarity and avoid the traps of jumping to conclusions or making assumptions.

Rather than reacting emotionally, we make a choice to exercise discipline. We suspend our point of view, our judgment, and our feelings so that we may better understand and validate the psychological needs and feelings of another, regardless of whether or not we agree. Respecting the need for silence while another is communicating gives space for each person to explore his or her thoughts and feelings more deeply. It is a dance of giving and receiving, which allows both to choose their words more carefully so that they may express without interruption.

In essence, conflict is a gift that challenges us to open our mind so that we may learn how to communicate and reconcile our differences. Being in right relationship is a process of learning how to move beyond the boundaries of a singular point of view to reach a mutual understanding. When we begin to accept and appreciate differences as tools important for our personal development then growth and healing change is possible.