“I am not a victim of emotional conflicts. I am human”
I have spent a great deal of my professional life immersed in conflict management. When I worked as a lawyer, I was trained to spot risk and foresee conflict, advise clients on the best way to deal with it, minimize losses, time and money spent on resolution.
This did not made me better at dealing with my own conflicts. Being personally involved in a conflict is uncomfortable, to say the least. When looking at someone else's issue, it is easier to apply distance, and see tactical and strategic moves. All that knowhow may vanish when the conflict touches our own interests and feelings.
We react depending on our personality: some prefer to avoid conflict altogether, others (over)react emotionally and then regret it. Some of us try to ignore the conflict or find all sorts of justifications to look elsewhere and wait for it to resolve by itself.
Others become so absorbed by the conflict that there is barely any space for much else in life.
I knew a woman that had a difficult job. She worked in a toxic environment, where blind ambition ruled, dirty games were played and aggressive behavior was praised. She worked efficiently during the day, but when she came home she couldn’t stop thinking about her boss. Without noticing it, she had started to take her boss, and the rest of the toxic cloud, into her home. The unfair treatment to herself and her colleagues, the lies, the dangerous and stingy moves followed her everywhere she went. She needed to stay on guard, constantly strategise and have a daily tactical plan. She started to wake up in the middle of the night mentally drafting her response to the latest nasty email.
Over time, she met other company directors who also used mean or covert-aggressive manouvers. She spent nights thinking about them. So it became a habit. Bringing toxic people home was now a pattern.
“Faust complained about having two souls in his breast, but I harbor a whole crowd of them and they quarrel. It is like being in a republic.” - Otto von Bismarck
She was showering, eating and sleeping with her toxic boss and colleagues that created her daily dose of conflict and drama. They became permanent tenants in her mind. During the day, she dealt with conflict graciously and efficiently. But at night, the battle went on and on.
Maybe the reason she became addicted to night time rumination was the inner conflict that lived within herself.
Does the person that made you feel bad deserve to share the intimacy of nighttime with you? Keep your bed thoughts for dreams and prayers.
Inner conflict or contradictions can become self-consuming.
I have noticed that when I’m doing something against my true wishes or values my body starts to send warning signals that translate into stress symptoms: stomach ache, back pain, a sore throat, a particular sort of headache... How often do you ignore these signals, and go on living with an awkward feeling that something is not right?
For some time, I was like the woman who took the entire toxic environment to bed!. I was in “survival” mode, trapped in tactical thinking. I had lost sight of the important things in life. Perhaps because of fear of looking into the eyes of this toxic environment, I had forgotten how to put boundaries. And the first boundaries needed to be created inside my own head!.
How can you resolve inner conflicts?
First, listen to the signs of discomfort. Is there something you’ve been hiding from? Decisions you are postponing? Is it fear to admit that you are not living the way you want? Is there any kind of clash with your values? There can be “small conflicts” that are easy to address (for example, I am a dance teacher, I believe in the immense power of physical exercise to heal the body and mind, and I feel horrible when I’m finding silly excuses to avoid exercising – the solution to resistance is very simple: just start, do it once and the benefits will follow!). Or, there can be more serious issues that require big decisions (like ending a relationship or learning to forgive). Or maybe there is a postponed dream you need to acknowledge.
Whatever it is, I can assure you that having the courage to look into the pain and find out what is missing or what is no longer acceptable is the biggest step. From there to taking a decision to do something about it, finding help and moving on, the way is not so long.
The sense of relief you’ll get from taking a renewed path coherent with yourself is immense. Maybe you will not need to make drastic changes or quit your job, a new path can be a new attitude, another way of clearing your mind of unwanted tenants.
As my teenage son says: YOLO! If you only live once, why be roomies with distress caused by conflict within yourself? What’s the point of sleepless nights compulsively trying to draft the best email responses, when you have not yet resolved what it is that triggers your own anxiety?
Sun Tzu said that the supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting. Maybe you are good at dealing with others during the day, but spend the nights fighting inside your head.
Listening to your own values and wishes is more sensible. When you resolve inner conflict you free up lots of inner space. And then you become more creative, resourceful, lighter. Only once you accept that something is bothering you, you can address the conflict with external actions and break free of toxic thinking.
Time to recover your Peace of Mind.
Are you dealing with the negativity of toxic people around you? This workshop may be a good starting point to deal with the inner conflict and break free of negative energy: http://bit.ly/fuckoffandmoveon_survivalkit
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