Sometimes, it feels easier to all together avoid conflict with others. Easy enough, but all too often we experience inner conflict, which isn't easily escaped. And here's the secret: They’re not mutually exclusive. External conflict is internal conflict expressed in a relationship.
Inner conflict can be felt through guilt, indecisiveness, or disappointment. It’s when we get mad at ourselves for not thinking a certain way or for not following through on something. When conflict appears in relationships, it’s often an indicator of work that individuals need to do for their own growth that will allow them to be their best selves with others. This is what makes conflict unique in its ability to teach us: the work you have to do in a relationship (with coworkers, intimate partners, friends, family) is work that you have to do anyway, as an individual, to grow.
Reframe conflict as an opportunity to know yourself differently. Find MEANING in conflict. Say to yourself, “I see how I am meant to grow. I see how I am supposed to shift in a way that I never would have if not for this conflict.”
For Seven Minutes this week, take one conflict in your life and break it down. First, look inward: How does the conflict reflect what I need to learn? How will it make me grow? What do I have to let go of, or resolve within, in order to see the other side more clearly? Then, focus on the external aspect: How does a change within me improve the situation with others? What is it that they are seeking, and can I provide it to them without compromising myself?
Conflict doesn’t have to be a precursor for a fight. When we feel conflicted, it’s a demand from the future placed upon us to grow. And we should welcome that opportunity every time it appears in front of us.