Dealing with Conflict in Relationships

Everyone experiences conflict in their relationships at some point in their life. It is a natural part of the learning experiences that are meant to teach us how to love and respect one another. Whether at home, work, school, or the grocery store, conflict can come into our life.

There is a beautiful spiritual teaching that says your experiences in life are really just your mirror: what you see in others is a reflection of yourself, and what happens to you is a reflection of your beliefs. This means that it is important to observe yourself and your life and see what you are projecting into the world that is reflecting back.

What this means in regard to conflict is that your and interpersonal problems are connected to the thoughts or beliefs you have about the world.  Subconsciously you attract conflict with your friends and loved ones, or painful experiences that will affirm your negative beliefs. So what you need is to prevent more conflict in your life is to hold thoughts of love and forgiveness for others, and have respect for what life brings you. Positive energy all around.

So what can you do in to deal with recurring conflict?

First, begin practicing self-acceptance and self-love. Then transfer this acceptance and love to others. Stop being critical! Stop gossiping. They are just reflections of your own inability to love yourself for who or how you are inside and out.

Affirmations can be really helpful as defenses against the usual negativity that reigns in your mind day in and day out. Negative thoughts may be automatic. Judgement may be automatic. But become conscious of these thoughts and when you notice them start to fight back with affirmations like:

I release all negative emotions. I release anger. I do not judge other people. I choose not to be negative of myself or others. I see others in a positive and loving light. I send goodwill and harmony to my human family on earth. I keep only positive thoughts.

Second, heal your negative beliefs about the world. Get a journal or piece of paper and start thinking and start writing. What are your negative beliefs about the world? Those deep down negative thoughts that you have about work being miserable, about men always cheating, or about how life treats everyone so badly? Write them all down. Now look at them. Do you see things in your life that happen to you reflect these beliefs?  If not, then think more deeply, there is most always a relationship between what is happening to you and what you believe about the world.

Now you have the opportunity to change your beliefs and become open to a whole new number of positive experiences:

Next choose one of those most core negative beliefs from before and write THE EXACT OPPOSITE positive belief at the top of a page. Now, immediately write down the first thoughts that come to mind confirming the negative belief (the reactive thoughts to your positivity). Write down as many as you need until you feel you’ve said everything relative to the experiences supporting that negative core belief and what you think about it.

Now go back to each of those reactive thoughts and write why the positive core belief could actually be correct. Conjure up the other voice in your head that is hopeful and optimistic,  and use it to counteract the negative thoughts you have written down.

Practice this each day, preferably in the morning when you first wake up and you have a fresh day ahead of you to bring the positive thoughts with you. And know that each day is meant to challenge you to change for the better– meet that challenge and accept what life brings you.

Over time, your list of negative beliefs that counteract your positive core value will become shorter. Until you can start to see that subconsciously you are changing the way you view the world. It is so exciting when finally the positive beliefs become reality, and you see the changes around you.

Third, heal your relationships and old hurts. It does take both parties involved in conflict to truly heal old hurts between each other. However, you only have the power to change yourself. So even if you send love and give others your respect, they may not return it. They may be afraid of getting hurt or just not ready to make such big changes in the way they think.  But be patient, over time and through their own experiences people learn and will remember you for the way you treated them even when they continued to be hurtful.

To practice forgiveness and start the healing process between you and the other person you will need to open your heart and feel love for them. Love is the key. Know that we all mistakes and that we are all learning, but inside each of us is someone who just wants to feel love. And sometimes we hurt others in the process of trying to feel that love. So why not get straight to the love part? And if you start to feel the battle in your mind again saying, ‘but they hurt me so bad– why should I have to deal with them?’ You can counteract it with new thoughts and use affirmations like:

I do not judge others. I let go of the past. I release old negativity and resentment. I feel at peace in all conflicts or hard situation.

If you are about to go into a situation or to see someone you feel you might have conflict with, this is a beautiful and powerful way to send healing energy to your relationships by saying this healing prayer, the “Peace and Harmony Prayer” by Paramhansa Yogananda:

“May [insert name] have peace and harmony, peace and harmony.” Repeating for one minute, and visualizing the other person feeling happy and loved in sunshine or gold light.

Then switch to saying, “May I have peace and harmony, peace and harmony,” for another 15 seconds.

This is very powerful and easy to try anytime. If you are worried about conflict at home or at work, you could also do your own prayer or affirmation for the people involved. Put your consciousness in a place of light and love for all those in need.

Fourth, learn to handle negative emotions like anger and frustration when dealing with conflict. The age old advice to count from 1 to 10 and take deep breaths when you start to feel anger really does work. This is because it stops the automatic, reactive process we have when we get upset.

Do what you can to find more peacefulness throughout the day, and don’t go around in a constant state of stress because that keeps your body and mind in “flight or fight” mode– so that you are ready to attack at anyone or anything that upsets your calmness. So of course, trying to keep a balanced life is an important part of preventing conflict.

Spiritual teachings also talk about “staying centered” or “being in the spine.”  You can try visualizing yourself in emotional situations with a straight spine and practice breathing up and down the spine to feel that centeredness while telling yourself, “I am peace” or “I remain calm.” This will help you patiently handle whatever life brings you throughout the day.

If you are a sensitive person, and you feel like keeping separate from other’s negativity or emotions is hard, you can try visualizing a shield in front of your heart that keeps the negative energy of others from entering your most vulnerable space. Epsom salt baths also can be very helpful to let go of emotional toxins.

Conflict is a natural part of life, but it is still important to do your part in helping yourself be strong and deal with it as best you can. And even if conflict remains around you, by practicing any of the tips above you will still be able to have a more loving and positive life. And that is worth so much!

Further Reading:


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