How I got over my fear of conflict

August 12, 2008 at 10:59 pm | Posted in Conflict | 7 Comments
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When the mood hit him, my dad was a rager. Very loud and very scary in conflict with others. I believe that much of my difficulty expressing real anger — throughout several decades of my life — springs from often being scared out of my wits by my father’s vitriolic tirades.

When I married I had no tools to guide me in having a difference of opinion with my husband. Unfortunately, my husband lacked tools as well. We were both stuffers, avoiders par excellence, and this ostrich-method had disastrous consequences. Our marriage (the first one) ended after 13 years.

During the years that followed I intentionally sought emotional wellness by reading self-help books, participating in therapy, and practicing a new trust-based way of relating to others. That last piece — practicing — was the key for me. Consciously opening my mouth and saying how I truly felt, with others who cared for me, often felt terrifying . . . yet this was the biggest factor in my getting over my fear of conflict.

Willingly engaging in confrontation still feels slightly unnatural to me. Generally, I have to stop and think about it for a second. But I’m not afraid of it anymore.

When my husband and I remarried more than 10 years ago (that’s right, we chose to try again), I let him know up front that this time I’d be committed to being emotionally honest, that I would no longer run away from conflict. I’m sure there are some days he wishes this wasn’t true (smile), but it’s working for us.

Do you struggle with engaging with conflict? Let me know how you’re overcoming or have overcome your fear.

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I am a former “conflict-a-phobe.”

August 4, 2008 at 7:10 pm | Posted in Conflict | 3 Comments
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I admit it, I used to be scared to death to have a difference of opinion with anyone. When I sensed pending conflict in a conversation or situation, I used to clam up or lie (I was a gifted chameleon), anything to avoid engaging in an unpredictable disagreement that might mushroom into a full-scale argument.

Can you relate?

Or maybe you identify more with “powering up” in conflict, overwhelming someone else with your superior debating skills or your louder, more forceful voice.

Instead of regarding conflict as something to be feared or overcome, consider shifting your perception. What might happen if you chose to regard conflict as a straightforward opportunity for creative growth? After all, does any real change occur in life — whether it happens within yourself or in relationship with others — without a degree of discomfort or struggle?

Let’s talk about this, what are your thoughts? And, if you like, let me know your typical response to conflict.

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