WHAT TO DO WHEN CONFLICT RESOLUTION FAILS

Wouldn’t life be wonderful if every time we disagreed with someone we could find a perfect solution that would satisfy each party and put the issue to rest once and for all? So often when a conflict arises, we spend an enormous amount of time and energy debating it, trying to prove our position, pointing out to the other person how and why their stance is wrong, and trying earnestly to convince them to see things and do things our way. In the event that we are unsuccessful, we may resort to simply imposing our way on them by demanding that things be done our way, or threatening that if we don’t get what we’re seeking there will be serious consequences for their non-compliance. If they refuse to conform and we are left without the resolution we were seeking, it’s easy to become engulfed in fear (that we will not be ok with our current set of circumstances), anger (that we did not get what we were seeking), bitterness (that their way prevailed over ours), and resentment (that we are being forced to accept something we are not happy with). Any and all of these emotions will poison our lives and prohibit us from experiencing happiness and success. Additionally, if suppressed or prolonged, they can impact our physical health, our emotional well-being, and our relationships. But even the most skilled debaters sometimes find themselves in a situation where there is simply no meeting of the minds. What can one do under these circumstances?

Conflict is simply the presence of a disagreement. It is actually a normal and healthy part of every relationship. On so many levels it adds depth and challenges that encourage personal and relationship growth. It only becomes problematic when hostility is introduced and stubbornness prevails. In the event one finds themselves in a stalemate, there is still a viable solution. And that is to resolve the conflict within yourself.

Real conflict is internal. It is fueled by the need to gain control over another person or situation; to force our beliefs and ways on others; to impose our authority on the other person; to maintain our appearance in the presence of our peers; to create a sense of superiority over others; to “win” or emerge victorious. Actual resolution has little to do with the specific matter in dispute and more with the need to satisfy one’s ego. Ego always needs to feel important, superior, and to establish dominance over the other. Ego is fueled by fear, the need to protect one’s self from a perceived harm or injustice. Let go of the fear, knowing you will be fine regardless of the outcome, and one can easily compromise or fully acquiesce without anxiety, anger or resentment.

It is critically important to ask yourself, “Why is this situation a problem for me? What within me needs to be resolved or healed in order for this not to bother me? How can I find a way to live comfortably with my new set of circumstances?” These are critical questions that will give you greater insight into yourself, your attitude, issues, and beliefs. Once identified and healed, the situation at hand is no longer a problem and can either be easily rectified or allowed to remain as is.

Ultimately the only way to fully resolve any conflict, especially those in which a situation remains status quo or devolves into something less than what we hoped for, is to find peace with it within ourselves. We can do this by realizing that in life, not everything progresses the way we had desired nor should it. To receive everything we expect out of life is akin to fulfilling a young child’s every whim. They do not learn how to accept that which they cannot or should not change, thus missing out on a critical life lesson of acceptance. They also fail to learn how to compromise or acquiesce to another so that the other party may feel satisfied. In doing so, one moves beyond selfishness to a place of generosity and concern for the other person. From a practical as well as spiritual perspective, this allows for enormous personal and spiritual growth and pride in one’s self. One also has the opportunity to learn resiliency and how to bounce back from any disappointment.

It is also critical to find the value in the experience, find something positive that can enrich your life. Wanting to splurge on an expensive vacation to Paris but consenting to my husband’s wish to visit his parents in Nevada for vacation can prove to be a worthwhile experience for me. Spending time with the in-laws gives them the opportunity to spend time with a son they love. It also affords me the opportunity to show them that I truly care about them and my husband and can ultimately strengthen our relationship as well as that with my spouse. And experiencing the beauty of Nevada can be an educational and glorious adventure. Where there is value there is no room for hostility.

Building the confidence that emerges from facing life’s unknowns is another benefit of unresolved conflicts. One discovers that regardless of what life hands you, you are fully qualified to not only survive your new found circumstances but to thrive and grow in them as well. Making the necessary accommodations enables one to challenge themselves to learn (acceptance and appreciation for what they had but no longer have or for what still remains or for what is new and potentially beneficial), as well as developing creative ways to so. Not having what they had hoped for also provides an opportunity to put everything into perspective. That which we thought to be so critically important sometimes is seen as less valuable when it is no longer an option for us.

Patience and determination are other valuable lessons we are being afforded when a dispute does not resolve as we had hoped. Perhaps this is not the right time for a resolution and we need to wait a bit longer before our circumstances change; maybe we are meant to try a new approach or to continue along the same path with greater focus and energy. Sometimes, it’s simply a matter of time and perseverance that ultimately brings about the preferred results. One who does not receive a much needed and desired promotion at work can vow to use this as motivation to work harder, to stand out among their coworkers and get noticed by those in charge, or perhaps to branch out in another direction or even seek a new career.

Again, once an experience proves to be advantageous to you, it is difficult to remain at odds with the other party or to continue to argue over the situation. Letting things just be what they are or need to be at that moment is incredibly freeing. One need not expend precious time and energy on that which has relatively little value and can redirect those resources to that which has greater enjoyment and reward. Therefore, put forth a good effort in trying to resolve those conflicts that are truly significant and command a solution. For those of lesser value, simply allow them to remain as they are. Then work at addressing your internal distress, finding the necessary solutions that will ultimately afford you the inner peace and stillness you so deserve. Problem solved.

Q “The ability to accept those things that we cannot or should not change allows us to live in peaceful harmony with ourselves and the world.”

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