A dispute at the workplace, an argument with your beloved ones, a frustrating conversation with the depressed taxi driver... we all get into conflict situations every day. It can be annoying, upsetting or even frightening sometimes, but what if I told you that there is a way to look at these situations from a different angle?
Let's face the monster - mind your thoughts!
Have you ever wondered why you react to a situation by having an emotional storm inside (or even outside)? Or how can you stay calm and relaxed in the other?
Well it's all about you (even if you prefer to believe that the OTHER is causing you the pain)... When you are dropped into any situation your first reaction will largely depend on what psychology calls "primary evaluation" of the situation. These are basically your first thoughts (that are sometimes not even conscious). These thoughts will drive your emotions and your emotions together with the evaluation of the situation will result in a certain behavior.
This is a schematic figure that I have made to illustrate what is happening:
If you evaluate a situation dangerous, frightening or for example too difficult, then your first thoughts will probably conclude that you might fail, you cannot win, you will suffer a loss. This will result in negative feelings such as anxiety, fear or anger, which will send an alarm signal to your body and evoke the ancient "fight or flight" reaction. Your "built-in" instincts will drive you to compete (quarrel, defend yourself, shout etc.) or flight (stay silent, adapt or run away). We might live in the 21st century but our genetic setting remained basically the same in the last 50 thousand years. So if there is danger of ANY kind, that will start an adrenaline-based reaction.
But if your first evaluation says "hey, what an awesome challenge - let's see what can I learn from it or how can I solve it" then chances are that you will feel more relieved and will be able to cooperate with the other person(s) involved.
Sounds simple, right? But it is not that easy to catch these first reactions so that we will be able to control them.
So what else can conflict be?
You may say, OK but conflict is bad, inconvenient and frustrating... well... again MIND YOUR THOUGHTS. If you look at it from a different angle then a conflict can be
- a natural part of our life,
- a useful tool to renew your coping mechanisms and techniques,
- an opportunity to mutually clarify your needs and expectations in your most important relationships
- a venue to represent your values, thoughts and preferences
- a possibility to develop a lot of useful skills (like communication, empathy, problem-solving, self-control etc)
- an inevitable step in making your relationships better
When our usual conflict handling strategies are not successful anymore, we can get stuck in the conflict situation. This is when we feel that we cannot move any step forward. At this point a change in perspectives can be a life-saver.
In this series I will analyse a few everyday conflict situations from this point of view. What are your fears? What can happen? How can you react to the situation? What else can you do? What can be the other perspective from which you can look at the situation?
Hope, you will come with me on this journey! 😊
This post was cross-posted on Whaleshares and Steemit.