How do you respond to conflict?
While I was growing up, my family mostly avoided conflict for as long as we could until someone eventually exploded into a full-on emotionally charged, personally pointed exchange of highly heated words. Somewhere along the way, I created the role of being the one to keep the harmony. Call it middle-child syndrome or just my personality and preference, but I believed it was my job to be mostly agreeable and to please in order to keep the peace between everyone in my family.
When I married my late husband, Andrew, I quickly learned a different view of conflict from being around him and his family. Andrew’s family has very strong, and sometimes differing, opinions on everything from religion, politics, education, money, etc. They would hash everything out over a meal and, at the end of the day, they would agree to disagree on some things with no hard feelings. They appeared to embrace conflict as a healthy part of being in relationship. They genuinely enjoy discussing and hearing the thoughts and opinions of others, even when it’s completely different than their own. I realized conflict can be peaceful through mutual respect.
This summer, I’ve experienced an unusually high amount of conflict in my life. In all of the recent instances, the conflict has stemmed from one short and impactful word…NO. I imagine I’m not alone when I say I do not like hearing NO. In fact in the past, this word often brought me to tears. Like when I was a college student successfully selling Cutco knives and on one particular day, I remember completing my sales presentation, turning to my client, and asking for the sale, to which he replied with a resounding, “NO.” My response? Tears started streaming down my face uncontrollably. Embarrassed and apologizing to him profusely, he gave me a hug and I quickly walked out of the room, humiliated.
I still have a tendency to want to avoid conflict and I often get emotional when I hear NO. At the same time, I acknowledge I’m no longer fresh out of college and I’ve learned a lot about myself in the years since then. Now, an inner strength starts to rise up inside me, and I become fiercely creative, resourceful, and motivated to find a way to make circumstances work. Sometimes, it involves compromise and adjustment. Currently, I am specifically committed, as a single parent, to taking massive action in securing a stable financial picture for my daughter, Ellie, and myself. I realized ultimately I don’t want to be in a place where I’m dependent on someone else to give me permission to create the life I want for my family.
If I have learned one thing for sure from my husband’s life and death it’s this: We all get ONE life to live and we are individually responsible for this opportunity.
When our choices create conflict based on the differing opinions of those we love, it’s important to remember this isn’t necessarily a negative outcome, because there’s always something to learn. Conflict can exist while maintaining mutual love and respect for one another. It’s also OK to change or adjust your decisions along the way. Nothing is set in stone. Life is change. So go ahead ask God for guidance and then make your choice. This is your ONE fabulous life, and at the end we don’t want to regret that we lived our lives trying to make someone else happy and to fulfill their expectations for our lives. We want to know we stayed true to our exceptional God-given journey.
I want to know what important lesson you’ve learned about yourself or about life from a conflict?
Looking forward to hearing about your experiences! Thank you for spending part of your day with me! Blessings.
PS – If you’re looking to motivate, inspire, and encourage a group you are a part of, I would love to come share my message of how each and every one of us can transform our most challenging times into the most meaningful and purposeful path for our lives. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org