Life is full of conflicts. Whether it’s a co-worker who rats you out to the boss, a meddling mother-in-law or a spouse who says something insensitive, it’s hard to move on from hurt feelings.
But unresolved conflict can seep into every aspect of your life. Until you reconcile the situation, your emotions will be tainted with negativity and you’ll be prone to depression and unexplained bouts of anger. Stress from conflict can even cause physical problems, like headaches, backaches and nausea. So as difficult as resolving conflict can be, it’s an important part of taking care of yourself.
Sometimes you just want to avoid confrontation so much that you try to pretend nothing ever happened. But without working through the conflict, you’ll never be able to genuinely move on. Your feelings will continue to affect your interactions and eventually your resentment for the other person may destroy the relationship. The first step to healing is acknowledging that there is a problem that must be dealt with.
It’s also important to analyze the situation thoroughly, so that you can be sure you understand what it is you’re really hurt or angry about. Sometimes you get so wrapped up in the emotions surrounding a situation, you lose sight of what the real issue is. And if you don’t know what’s causing the conflict, you won’t be able to communicate it effectively to the other person and affect change.
Once you have a handle on the issue, it’s time to take a difficult step: addressing the problem with the other person. It’s important to use effective communication skills that focus on how you feel rather than making assumptions about the other person’s feelings. Don’t launch personal attacks. Instead, focus on how you were hurt by the person’s actions.
Of course the most challenging part of any conflict is actually forgiving the other person. Sometimes, even after you’ve addressed the problem, the other person just doesn’t seem worthy of forgiveness. Maybe she doesn’t seem sorry. Maybe he doesn’t understand what the big deal is. Even if you don’t feel like the other person deserves to be forgiven, remember there’s another side to consider: the fact that you deserve to be forgiving. You owe it to yourself to be free from the hurt, anger and resentment that come with conflict.
If someone has truly wronged you, you may never be able to completely forget it. But for your own sake – and the sake of the relationship – you have to decide which is more important: hanging on to the past or moving forward with the relationship. If you decide to maintain the relationship, make a choice in every interaction to let the past conflict go.
Conflict can become a burden you carry with you throughout your every day life. Even if you “know” you are in the right, you can still end up hurting yourself by refusing to move on. By taking steps to set things straight, you will free yourself to enjoy a happier, healthier life.
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