Moving Past Conflicts
by Dr. Marks, Marks Psychiatry
Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Though a normal part of life, conflicts are never easy to manage. Deeply rooted ones can take a serious toll on your physical, mental and spiritual well-being. What is worse is that when you allow past conflicts to highlight the imperfection of your relationship with others, you will find it more challenging to move on with your life. Yes, moving past deeply rooted conflicts can be difficult, but the task is not impossible. It requires the right approach to conflict management and resolution.

Understanding Conflict Begins with Opening Your Mind and Heart
In most cases, conflict management and resolution can begin the moment you are able to examine the conflict level-headedly. You are in a better position to present appropriate solutions to the conflict when you are well rested and calm. Here are some techniques to steer you to the right direction:

  • Do not allow emotions to cloud your perspective. Raise your concerns in a respectful manner. Be attentive to what the other person has to say, and request the same attention for yourself as well. Focus on what the problem is, not on who is to blame. Avoid personal attacks. Character assassination will only compound the present conflict. In case you find it awkward to initiate even a civil dialogue with the person that you’re at conflict with, then seek the aid of a third party to mediate your conversation.
  • Find a common ground where you can begin your discussion. Start your discussion with an interest or concern that you mutually agree on. For instance, if you and your sibling are fighting over your inheritance claims, you can begin your dialogue by admitting that you both want the same thing: a fair and rightful share of your parent’s real estate property. A common start allows you to move forward with your discussion.
  • Aim for win-win solutions. A sense of imbalance and inequality can compound conflicts. When you sit with the other person, try to work together towards a mutually beneficial resolution to your disagreement or conflict. When you brainstorm as a team, you’ll realize that you are actually developing each other’s ideas. Remember that your goal is common: a peaceable win-win solution for both of you.
  • Set standards that you intend to follow. These standards can govern how you and the other person relate to each other in the future. In the event some disagreements do recur, both of you will have some protocol to follow, and you can then act on the conflict systematically and proactively.

The Futility of Resolving Some Conflicts Does Not Imply Defeat
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.

You've probably heard this line from the famous Serenity payer. Elegant as it sounds, the deed can be hard to put into action. Do your best to manage and resolve conflicts. However, do not be discouraged if you fail. Perhaps the time has just come for you to accept the way things are. When your situation reaches this point, remember to:

  • Let go. Give up your hold on stressful situations and on your repeated but failed attempts to resolve them. Forget about the conflict, and you will create enough space for yourself to explore newer situations and better opportunities.
  • Express yourself. Bare your truest and innermost emotions with a person or group that you trust. You will feel at peace once you have purged your heart from every piece of hatred, hurt and frustration that you accumulated during the conflict.
  • Stay positive. It’s possible for you to draw out something positive from the most negative situation available. Just imagine how much insight you gained about preserving relationships, maintaining open communication and learning to forgive. A positive attitude speeds up your recovery from a traumatic experience.
  • Counter pain with forgiveness. Forgiveness lessens the pains that accompany the conflict. All people make mistakes. By learning to accept that the human race is marred with imperfections, you can move past the anger and hurt more quickly. You can then tend to healing yourself and finding reasons to be happy again.