Conflict is something each of us faces at one point or another in our lives. It’s unavoidable. To fight or not is a choice we make, however. We can choose to remain silent, not voicing our opinions and thereby consenting to something we may disagree with, or we can argue and try to sway others to our side whether by force or by reason. Either way, we don’t feel very good about ourselves. We’re either giving in or fighting a losing battle—After all, when have we ever changed someone’s mind by arguing? There are more options available to us though.
On the topic of conflict, Anne Wilson Schaef writes:
“Conflict is inevitable in our lives. We feel conflicted over a choice we must make, and the conflict is within. We feel strongly about the way a business decision must go, and we are in conflict with our peers.
Some of us believe that there are only two options when conflict arises. We must either roar like a lion and impose our will or back off like a sheep and give in (and subtly try to impose our will.) Neither choice has much to say for it.
Thank goodness we have another option. We can check out what is going on inside of us. We can listen to what others are saying. We can get clear with ourselves and see what we have to learn.”
Often when we have a visceral reaction to someone or something, it is a sign we should sit up and take notice. Such reactions can be quite telling. We often react negatively to that which reminds us of ourselves, particularly when it comes to characteristics, traits, or behaviors which we don’t like, our insecurities, our weaknesses.
Just as we can learn from these experiences, so too can we learn a lot from conflict. Any conflict we face presents us with an opportunity to listen, to hear another’s viewpoint and to see things from their perspective. When we do this, we learn and grow as human beings. We can reassess our own opinions, take stock of our beliefs, and better understand the why behind them. Conflict has so much more to offer us than just fight or flight. Conflict offers us a chance to learn and grow, to expand our horizons and achieve a deeper level of understanding. What a gift!