When confronted with conflict, as unique humans, we all respond and react differently. Think about how you naturally react in relation to conflict. Have you ever wondered why you deal with it the specific way that you do?
You might attempt to avoid conflict at all costs, shut down, explode, go silent, freeze, become aggressive or defensive.
If you don’t love how you currently relate to conflict, there’s good news. Like so much of what I teach, conflict resolution is a skill set that many of us were never taught but, of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t learn it now. 😉
The key to changing your relationship to conflict is learning how to emotionally self-regulate. The more you understand emotional self-regulation, the more you can put your energy into creating the internal space you need when you’re activated or upset, so you can move from knee-jerk reactions into conscious responses to conflict.
Inside the episode, I’m giving you 3 simple steps to manage conflict more mindfully so you can stop sabotaging your relationships or any of your long term goals.
Emotional self-regulation is the ability to control our emotions and then our behaviors. It’s the ability to manage disruptive and upsetting thoughts or impulses. I know this might feel like a tall order when you’re in it with battle lines drawn.
Remember, conflict is a natural part of our human experience. In relationships, it’s unavoidable. The goal here is to build the skills and the space to respond rather than react when you are in conflict.
When you are in reactivity, you feel threatened. When you feel threatened your parasympathetic nervous system triggers your primal physiological fight-flight-freeze response. When emotional self-regulating is absent, our response to conflict can look like:
Attacking, blaming, name-calling, aggressively pursuing, analyzing, yelling, criticizing, denying, defending, avoiding or withdrawing, ignoring, numbing out, isolating, or stonewalling.
Staying stuck in reactivity can create behavioral patterns that are ultimately unsatisfying and unhealthy. It’s important to be mindful of these behaviors because they can block us from achieving our goals or creating the healthy relationships we desire. Instead of self-recrimination let’s instead work towards thinking before acting.
You absolutely have a right to your feelings, but why not be strategic about how you process and express them? When you better understand your emotions and impulses, the better you’ll be able to consciously exercise your emotional-regulation muscle. This creates more space to feel an impulse and then mindfully choose your response.
Here are my 3 best tips to help you better understand your relationship to conflict and begin to flex your emotional self-regulation muscle:
1. Your Downloaded Conflict Resolution Blueprint
Your downloaded blueprint is the collection of experiences and beliefs you were exposed to when you were growing up. We have conflict resolution blueprints from our families and cultures of origin just as we do for most everything else in life.
Uncovering your conflict resolution blueprint can help you better understand why you do the things you do so you may consciously change what’s not working. When we are in conflict, old behavior patterns or wounds are activated and, if we don’t have emotional regulation skills, we will revert to our default behaviors. Inside this week’s downloadable guide, I’m giving you a few clarifying questions about your Conflict Blueprint. You can grab your guide right here.
2. Practice Mindfulness
Meditation and mindfulness are like a workout for your brain. From breathing exercises to guided meditation tracks, anything that brings you into the present moment promotes internal expansion. It increases your reaction time you have, even when you’re in conflict.
When I started rocking a dedicated daily meditation practice, I experienced a massive life-transforming shift in that I gained 2-3 seconds of response time in all of my interactions. This might not sound like a lot, but I promise you, in the heat of the moment, those 2-3 seconds have again and again been my saving grace. Instead of reacting, I can mindfully choose a healthier response. It takes time and a willingness to commit, but it’s worth it. You can start small with just 5 minutes a day. I’ve given you some of my favorite meditation resources and ideas in the guide, so be sure to download that here.
3. Know That You Always Have a Choice
Consciously choosing what you want and how you respond in every situation is what matters most. The more you take ownership of your choices, the more you can step into practicing emotional self-regulation which creates effective communication. It is incredibly empowering to not be at the mercy of emotions and impulses.
Managing conflict is a necessary and important skill set. In my experience, once you learn how to approach conflict in a healthy way, it can be an amazing opportunity to deepen the intimacy in your relationships.
If this info added value to your life, please share it and connect with me on Instagram @terricole to let me know your thoughts on conflict and emotional self-regulation.
I hope you have an amazing week and as always, take care of you.