Imagine two souls locked up in one body fighting for dominance. Inner conflict is the most painful and mentally exhausting human burden that ravishes even the calmest of hearts. That turmoil within you is called inner conflict, and it is something humans have unfortunately created by themselves.
Internal conflict is a constant battle that hinders us from making a smooth decision. It is our thoughts and emotions trying to override what we know is morally right or wrong. This feeling of conflict translates into fear, anger, disgust, confusion, loneliness, etc.
Table of Contents
- What is an Internal Conflict?
- What Causes Internal Conflicts?
- Types of Internal Conflicts
- Freeing Yourself
- Final Thoughts
What is an Internal Conflict?
As mentioned, internal or inner conflict is a raging war within oneself. It is being indecisive, but it is much deeper than indecisiveness. This attribute can range from the simplest decision, like taking a bus or Uber to work to picking red shoes instead of blue ones. It can be anything morally, sexually, political, religious, and more. The decision to compromise or not is the result of inner conflict. 
Generally, most people avoid conflict like a plague. They see it as negative energy or bouts of emotions that cannot be dealt with at the moment. As a result, many people suffering from inner conflict either suppress, deny, or withdraw from circumstances that exaggerate the situation or believe it does not exist. Well, the latter works great for external conflicts. In as much as inner conflict feels obstructive, positive outcomes do result from it.
However, when you decide (hoping it is soon) to deal with your inner conflict, only then will you win. Even if you lose, it is a win for acknowledging it. Never assume that dealing with your inner conflict makes you a winner. No, it does not always happen that way. It only means you are accepting and looking for viable channels to disperse the feelings within you.
Before discussing various types of conflict and internal conflict examples, remember this: Even though conflict is inevitable, freeing yourself from its grip is possible.
At the end of the day, conflict regardless of its kind or source challenges you to become more creative and smart about your decision-making. An example of internal conflict is a person who believes in women’s rights but thinks she must be submissive in marriage.
What Causes Internal Conflicts?
Understanding the definition of internal conflict will help you understand its cause and how to avoid it. The battle between what you know and how you feel is an age-old one that will forever happen. The disagreement between our hearts and head is real. Your head will always be the deciding factor of your existence.
However, as long as we attach feelings to things, our hearts will come into play. Moreover, we live in a society influenced by emotions rather than thoughts, hence the beginning of the causes of inner conflict.
Our desire to satisfy the needs of our surroundings is the cause of conflict.
Our heads offer a focused and linear kind of intelligence while our hearts are free and illogical. Finding common ground between these two is like being locked up in a maze.
There is no simple formula for resolving inner conflict. However, there are steps you can take to free yourself from such craziness.
So, what causes inner dissonance? The inability to find a balance between our heart and head results in inner conflict, and when our actions match our values, we call it a win. However, when they fail to align, it results in shame, disgrace, and embarrassment.
What Is the Origin of Internal Conflicts?
Humans experience inner conflict for a variety of reasons, but tracing it to one source is not possible. Some factors that trigger it are:
- Our background and upbringing
- Our beliefs, doctrines, cultures, and traditions
- Our society and the values we learned or adopted into our adulthood
The truth is that the more mentally attached you are to any of the above or anything in life, the more inner conflict you are likely to suffer from.
How Do You Know When Internal Conflicts Are Arising?
You know inner conflict is brewing when you find yourself contesting your values or beliefs for options less significant. For example, it is fighting hard to keep your virginity while persuading your boyfriend to understand that you love and value your relationship.
Often, when a negative thought gradually overwhelms a good deed, inner conflict arises. When you feel that heaviness in your spirit or uneasiness in the pit of your stomach, beware because inner conflict might be around the corner.
Furthermore, when you find yourself forcefully trying to suppress the need to satisfy a bad one or giving significance to it, there is a problem.
How Do People With Inner Conflicts Behave?
Inner conflict is defined as the confusion between accepting and aligning your belief with what is presented to you.
A person suffering from internal conflict exhibits the following behavioral patterns:
- Inability to make up their minds at any particular moment
- Value the opinion and ideals of others than their own
- Does not accept their point of view as valid and significant (always willing to bend backward for others)
- Always doubts his or her credibility
- Has no stable mindset about a situation and always.
- Does not feel challenged and are easily roped into guilt.
- Cannot make a decision and stick by it, and always seek the support of others to buttress their point
- Is uncertain about life and how to go about achieving their purpose in it.
Types of Internal Conflicts
Now that we know more about the causes and effects of internal conflicts, here are the different types that can affect us:
1. Sexual Conflict
Sexual conflict occurs when the evolutionary interests of males and females diverge.
This is one inner conflict that intertwines with other conflicts. An example of sexual conflict is denying your sexual identity because of what the world thinks.
For example, today, we see people who are stuck in unhappy circumstances because of the failure to accept and acknowledge that part of ourselves.
2. Moral Conflict
This arises when our personal ethics and values are put to the test. For example, a person believes in being truthful and honest. Yet, they are willing to tell a lie to save a life or friends. Moral conflict arises when you are caught between two opposing sides and trying to fulfill both regardless of the consequences.
3. Religious Conflict
This is the most common type of inner conflict ravaging the human mind today. In the name of believing in God, many people become extremists just to display their loyalty. An example is accepting that blood transfusion can cure a loved one yet disregarding it because it goes against your belief.
4. Political Conflict
A clear example surrounds us in the recently concluded election in the US. This is a case where people know that democracy is for the people yet are willing to sacrifice it to please one man or for the selfishness of a few men who stake the lives of millions for a roomful of people.
5. Self-Image Conflict
This happens in many forms, but it is when a belief contradicts the image you have created in your mind. For example, a person disregards fat people because of how they look and believe their weight is the cause of their problem. Then, one day, they meet a big person who is confident and loves themselves. Suddenly, they are caught up in relinquishing those beliefs and accepting the new angle.
Research studies show that people with many interpersonal conflicts tend to have low self-esteem.
6. Love Conflict
This happens when we love people and yet will not think twice about hurting them. For example, we love our partners but cannot tolerate their shortcomings regardless of how much we love them. This is the cause of marriages that end in divorce as even the ones we love, we have to let go sometimes just to find peace.
7. Interpersonal Conflict
This is a battle between what you believe and what you like. For example, you hate parties because you accept it is a breeding ground for immorality and other vices to play out. Yet, you cannot wait to listen to the latest gossip about a party happening or just happened to be around. Another example is disliking smoking but accepting that it is okay for people to smoke if they like it.
8. Existential Conflict
This conflict arises due to your belief in the existence and occurrence of life as we know it. For example, knowing that God is a reality but doubting the idea of paradise or even life after death. It is also conflict arising from contradicting your declarations and beliefs about them.
Having inner conflict affects us negatively. Here are ways you can free yourself from it:
1. Acknowledge the Inner Conflict
Genuine acknowledgment happens when the mind is open, receptive, and devoid of any form of criticism. Inner conflict drags us back and forth, making it challenging to ascertain the problem or devise a solution.
However, when you acknowledge the issues, it is easier to define the solution that will resolve them. Furthermore, you must be conscious of the duality of your mind. Do not take sides. But in that space, sit down and discuss the “whys” to ascertain what is best for you at the moment.
No one else but you should do this. It is a challenge as humans will seek to validate one over the other, but maturity and strength will help you through this stage. Remember, you cannot resolve what you do not agree with or deny.
As mentioned above, when inner conflict arises, there is a duality that we must acknowledge. However, our desire to remain attached to beliefs and ideologies that do not conform to our present realities causes inner conflict.
If your perception changes, then everything else should, too. The consequences of inner conflict are rejection, fear, abandonment, loneliness, and more. If you cannot handle the consequences of inner conflict, then be stern in your decision and stay away from circumstances that might trigger such conflicts.
3. Gain Clarity
Lack of understanding is the broadest platform for conflict to grow, misplace priorities, values, and a clear and visible display of indecisiveness.
Clarity allows you to separate the “what” from the “how” and enables a deeper understanding of the things that need to be done. Gaining clarity requires deep insight within you and the willingness to accept the truth rather than what you want.
4. Calm Your Mind Down
Your inner thoughts are almost likely negative ideas that are louder than the voices of reasoning. If you are alone when these creepy voices arise, practice small distracting activities to calm your mind. Calming your mind allows you to detach and gain clarity easily of the situation at hand.
It is not a way to escape from the problem but to put you in a place of peace until you can accurately discern what is next. Some activities to help are breathing exercises, music, reading, playing an instrument, cooking, meditation, listening to positive affirmations, or nature watching.
Researchers at Harvard discovered how mindfulness could positively affect depressed individuals.
If you are at work, step out for some fresh air or give yourself a minute or two to breathe deeply in the restroom.
5. Identify the Conflict
In this article, I have identified various inner conflicts that can crop up at any time. To free yourself from any situation, including conflicts, you must identify which one it is.
For example, imagine yourself arguing with your office colleagues about politics, but realize it is becoming religious or moral. It is time to step back and reassess the atmosphere before you get in too deep or say something that is not you. The ability to identify your inner conflict at any given moment heightens your understanding of the situation to enable you to channel your energy to the right channel.
Don't have time for the full article? Read this.
An internal conflict is a raging war within oneself.
The battle between what you know and how you feel is the main cause of internal conflicts.
The major types of inner conflicts are: sexual, moral, religious, love, political, and existential.
You can free yourself from inner conflict by acknowledging the inner conflict, detachment, gaining clarity, calming your mind down, and identifying the conflict.
While it is difficult to openly agree to the inner battles raging within us, ignoring and denying their existence means robbing yourself of positive energy in life. Inner conflicts are like your shadow—you feed them directly or indirectly. Rather than be at the mercy of your feeling, admit, identify, and discard them now.
Featured photo credit: Mor Shani via unsplash.com
|||^||National Library of Medicine: On the Characteristics of the Cognitive Dissonance State: Exploration Within the Pleasure Arousal Dominance Model|
|||^||Knowledge: Conflict Is Good for Creativity|
|||^||Openstax: Causes of Conflict in Organizations|
|||^||ResearchGate: Interpersonal Conflict, History Of|
|||^||ScienceDirect: Sexual Conflict|
|||^||National Library of Medicine: Interpersonal Conflicts and Development of Self-Esteem from Adolescence to Mid-Adulthood. A 26-Year Follow-Up|
|||^||The Harvard Gazette: When science meets mindfulness|