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Published on January 27, 2021

How To Deal With Inner Conflict And Free Yourself

How To Deal With Inner Conflict And Free Yourself

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.

Inner 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.

What Is Inner Conflict?

As mentioned, 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, 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. There are plenty of examples, such as a person who believes in women’s rights but thinks she must be submissive in marriage.

What Causes Inner Conflicts?

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.

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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 a 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 conflict? 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 Inner 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 belief, doctrine, 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 Inner Conflict Is 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 Conflict Behave?

Inner conflict is defined as the confusion between accepting and aligning your belief with what is presented to you.

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A person suffering from internal conflict exhibits the following behavioral patterns:

  • cannot make up their own minds at any particular moment.
  • value the opinion and ideal of others than their own
  • does not accept their point of view as valid and significant (always willing to bend backward for others)
  • always doubt his or her credibility.
  • have no stable mindset about a situation and always.
  • do 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 Inner Conflict

Now that we know more about the causes and effects of inner conflict, here are the different types that can affect us:

1. Sexual Conflict

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. All of a sudden, you are caught up in relinquishing those beliefs and accepting the new angle.

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 around. Another example is disliking smoking but accepting that it is okay for people to smoke if they like it.

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8. Existential Conflict

This is conflict arising 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.

Freeing Yourself

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.

2. Detachment

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.

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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, and meditation, listening to positive affirmations, or nature watching.

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 8 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 enables you to channel your energy to the right channel.

Final Thoughts

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.

More Tips on How to Deal With Inner Conflict

Featured photo credit: Mor Shani via unsplash.com

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Jacqueline T. Hill

Writing, Blogging, and Educating To Guide Others Into Happiness

How to Learn to Be Alone and Happy About It How to Find Inner Peace and Lasting Happiness How To Deal With Inner Conflict And Free Yourself How to Develop Different Perspectives on Life How to Express Your Feelings in a Healthy Way

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Published on February 22, 2021

How To Focus on the Good Things In Life (When Times Are Tough)

How To Focus on the Good Things In Life (When Times Are Tough)

Scott Peck’s first sentence in his book, The Road Less Traveled, is, “Life is difficult.” He then goes on to say that if you accept this, you are going to be okay. There is a lot of adversity in life, and none of us are exempt. That’s why we need to focus on the good things in life for us to move forward.

Here are 4 ways you can focus on the good things in life, especially during tough times.

1. “Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do”

“Tough times never last, but tough people do.”

The above quote is the title of Dr. Robert Schuller’s outstanding book. The title tells you all you need to know about the book.

We have been through a tough 2020, and 2021 could very well be just as tough. The hope is that vaccines and proper protocols will get us through these difficult times. Americans in the 20th century suffered through two World Wars and the devastating Great Depression. To get through these times, they had to be tough—and they were. Now, it is our turn to show our toughness.

I can think of three examples where people showed their toughness in recent years.

The first has to do with the Catholic Church and the awful pedophilia scandal. I believe it was one of the worst times in the history of the Church. What happened to the children was unconscionable. Another side of the issue was the clergy who were falsely accused. Two of them in the Chicago area knew they were innocent and showed their toughness in different ways.

The first got through it with prayer—praying especially for his accuser. Prayer can be a great way to get through tough times. The second was able to retain his optimism. He said he kept repeating a sentence from John and Bobby Kennedy’s mother, Rose: “After the storm, the birds always sing.”

Both men were exonerated after a most difficult and humiliating time. Their accusers ultimately admitted they had lied.

Another way of getting through times is by calling on the best of people. Winston Churchill, during the worst bombing of London in World War II, told the British people, “Never, never give in!” The British people did just that.

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Another way of getting through times is through determination and work. We were looking to build a gymnasium at Providence High School when I worked there. We drafted a paper giving the rationale as to why we needed the gym and presented it to people of means in our community.

The vote was 16-0 that we should not try to build during such tough economic times. Providence has a gym today because of the work ethic and the determination of one man—Father (then Bishop) Roger Kaffer.

Finally, teams go through tough times in athletics. We started one season 3-6. We decided to go back to the fundamentals. We finished 9-2 and played for the conference championship because we returned to the fundamentals. All organizations can return to their core values during tough times.

Prayer, optimism, calling on our best selves, determination, work, and our core values can get us through tough times.

2. Keep a Good Thought

“Keep a good thought” is an Irish maxim encouraging people to stay positive. We can find the good through tough times by our thinking.

Dale Carnegie wrote, “It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy. It’s what you think about.”

I enjoyed the basketball coach who had an interesting take on thinking. He asked the referee if he could give him a technical foul for what he was thinking. The ref said of course not; the coach then responded, “I think you stink!”

Willie Nelson, in one of his many songs, stressed to be careful of negative thinking. Paraphrasing, the refrain was, “Think of the good times because the bad times weigh like lead on your mind.”

Our students at the University of St. Francis would annually go to Bolivia to help the people build and repair homes. When I asked them what they learned from the trip, they said two things—they could not believe the poverty the people lived in nor could they believe the positive attitude with which the people lived. Their kindness, humor, and compassion were incredible. Somehow, they consistently kept a good thought, despite their tough circumstances.

Mother Teresa summed up keeping a good thought when she wrote, “Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”

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You can focus on the good things in life when you are determined to “Keep a Good Thought” through hardships.

3. Be in the Moment

We focus on the good things when we are happy. Roy T. Bennett wrote, “If you want to be happy do not dwell in the past, do not worry about the future, focus on living fully in the present.”

Two emotions that can deprive us of our happiness are guilt and worry. Jeffrey Nevid called them the “useless emotions.”

Guilt refers to the past. We can elect to carry guilt for something we did in the past. That is our prerogative, but the bottom line is we cannot change it. It’s over! What we can do, however, is learn from it, then move on. Learning from it is the easy part; moving on, the only realistic thing to do, admittedly is the hard part.

Mark Twain had a great insight into guilt’s partner, worry, when he wrote, “I have lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which happened.”

Too often, we worry about things that never materialize. If guilt and worry are tied to our past and future and if they are “useless emotions,” then the only alternative is to live in the present.

In my first 25 years of coaching basketball at the University of St. Francis, we had no bus to take us to road games. We, the coaches, drove the vans. There were 21 NAIA teams in Illinois and only 6 made the playoffs. We finally had the chance to be one of the 6 but we had to win one more game. The team we played was about 5 hours away. We were down 12 with 4 minutes to go in the game. We rallied to make 2 free throws with 2 seconds left to go and we were up by 1 point.

They inbounded the ball to our free-throw line, some 79 feet away from their basket. Their player threw a “Hail Mary” ball toward their basket—it went right in and knocked us out of the playoffs! I had the option of dwelling on that incredulous ending and living in the past or living in the present and driving our players back to campus safely! Fortunately, we made it home.

We can focus on the good by making ourselves happy. Many people have validated that we can make ourselves happy.

Aristotle kept it simple, “Happiness depends on ourselves.”

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The Dalai Lama wrote, “Happiness is not something that is readymade. It comes from your own actions.”

The actress Aubrey Hepburn had this insight, “The most important thing is to enjoy your life – to be happy – it’s all that matters.”

Mahatma Gandhi saw it this way, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

When we will ourselves into a state of happiness by staying in the present moment, we can focus on the good things in life.

4. Help Others

Mark Twain wrote, “The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer someone else up.”

A former high school classmate, Pat Warren, was constantly cheering up our friends when they were experiencing tough times. I would hear about the person suffering and tell myself I must get to see him. Inevitably, by the time I finally got to see him, Pat had already been there. He constantly focused on the good things he could do for others, especially during their difficult times.

Joe Madden, the former Chicago Cubs manager, used to tell his players, “Don’t ever let the pressure exceed the pleasure.” I saw one of his players execute the pleasure.

One of my grandchildren was playing in a Little League game on Chicago’s north side. He was playing on one field and there was another game on an adjacent field. When I looked to the other field, the game had stopped and all the players and fans had surrounded someone.

Ben Zobrist lived near the park where the kids were playing. He had been the Most Valuable Player of the previous year’s World Series. So, there was a lot of pressure on him to perform well this next year, but he did not let the pressure exceed his giving pleasure.

The Cubs had a game that day and he lived close enough to Wrigley Field, their home park, so he would often ride his bike to games in his uniform. However, before riding to his game this day, he rode over to the park where we were.

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The players and the adults were excited to see and meet the 2016 World Series MVP. He stayed in the park until he signed every autograph for every person on both fields! It was an act of random kindness as he gave the kids great pleasure. He focused on the good despite the pressure he was about to face in his game.

Numerous pundits have great insights into the many facets of helping others.

Catherine Pulsifer said, “People appreciate and never forget that helping hand, especially when times are tough.”

Martin Luther King wrote, ”Somewhere along the way, we must learn that there is nothing greater than to do something for others.”

Charles Dickens spoke about the two kinds of people who help. “There were two kinds of charitable people: one, the people who did little and made a great deal of noise; the other the people who did a great deal and made no noise at all.”

Finally, Jim Rohn wrote about the relationship between giving and receiving, “Only by giving are you able to receive more than you already have.”

Helping others, especially during tough times, enables you to focus on the good things in life.

Final Thoughts

We can focus on the good things in life during difficult times in four ways:

  • By being tough and not fearing the tough times
  • By keeping a good thought
  • By staying in the moment
  • By being there for others

Remember that tough times are inevitable, but they will also inevitably end. The key is to focus on the good, and you’ll get there eventually.

More Tips on How to Focus on the Good

Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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