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If/When You Avoid Conflict Does It Mean You Are Disregarding Your Needs?

Posted Oct 05 2012 2:05pm

Ahhhh conflict. It’s something I’ve spent a lot of time and energy worrying about and avoiding.

A while back I got into a discussion on Facebook with a friend from college in regards to conflict. It centered on politics and this blog post entitled To Everyone I Know During This Election , which I had posted.

In response, she posted a link to this article: Moving To California Won’t Make You Happy  (“We use the word happiness to refer to two very different and often mutually contradictory phenomena: the mood of the moment and our overall life-satisfaction.”)

In response, I said, “I am definitely not about ‘being happy’ but rather being able to embrace all emotions, which leads to a sense of serenity.”

And then she said, “What you say is so true because when we try to fight the things that allow us to understand ‘happiness’ it makes us more miserable because we try to push those emotions away which leads to all sorts of problems … avoiding sometimes necessary conflict or constantly disregarding your own needs just to avoid those feelings.”

And I thought to myself…wow. When/if I avoid conflict am I disregarding my own needs? Is there such a thing as necessary conflict? Am I avoiding feelings?

And then I said, “Good point…yes, I avoid conflict, for deep-seated reasons. I grew up with a lot of conflict. In my family, ‘conflict’ always ended badly for me. I have to ask myself, ‘Is this conflict okay for me right now? Is this conflict going to be productive for me? If I don’t engage this time does it mean I am disregarding my needs? And what, exactly are my needs in this particular conflict? What is driving me?’”

So, when it comes to expressing views or opinions, political or otherwise, does avoiding expression due to fear of conflict with others mean I am disregarding my needs? Do I have a need to express my opinion?

I think that’s why this blog exists!

But having an opinion and expressing it is different than finding myself in conflict in regards to my opinions.

Wayne Dyer  says, “Conflict cannot survive without your participation.”

And so, expressing myself for the specific purpose of meeting my needs doesn’t necessarily have to end in conflict, although in the past it may have felt that way. It’s my choice whether it does or not.

In his book, The Big Leap , Gay Hendricks takes it a step further. He says, “Arguments and conflict are caused by two people (or two groups, or two countries) racing to occupy the victim position in a relationship.”

At first you might think, “Wait a minute, when there’s a conflict, one side is trying to occupy the power position, not the victim position.”

Hendricks goes on to say, “…in essence, the conflict arises because each side must present an escalating series of proof that he or she (or it) is the real victim. Understanding the physics of arguments reveals how conflicts can be resolved. Each entity in a situation must accept 100% of the responsibility for both the cause and the solution. The mistake is in thinking that there is 100% of responsibility to be divided up; this approach requires each side to take some portion of the 100%, which causes problems because it leads to endless jockeying for the victim position.”

Talk about a paradigm shift. Whether in conflict with someone else or even with oneself, resolving it, if that’s what is desired, requires that I take 100% responsibility for it.

So what does this have to do with anything that I normally blog about? Well, if you take into consideration the idea that reducing stress and anxiety positively affects the body’s ability to heal and to be healthy and fit, and that conflict (adopting the position of victim) is stressful and produces anxiety, then it would follow that choosing not to participate in conflict serves your needs.

I know that when conflict is minimal (internally and externally), I am much more willing and able to take care of myself.

What’s your experience with conflict and your ability to take care of yourself? Is there such a thing as “necessary conflict”?



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