Conflict is a tricky business. Some people prefer to get all of their frustrations out rather than keeping it all in, some even relish the experience. Here, The Daily Zen share their take on dealing with conflict:
“Don’t go to bed angry. Stay up and fight.”
Going to preface this by saying that I don’t mean fighting in the direct sense. What I mean is that we should not let personal problems fester. Passive aggression is like a cancer and only worsens with time. If you are having an internal quarrel with a friend, if you are losing respect for someone, if you are suddenly experiencing negative feelings towards someone you care about, do not let it sit. It may need to for a while, but the longer you wait, the more potentially harmful the situation becomes. And if you’re not careful, it will boil over, and people will get hurt. The last thing you want to do is hurt someone you love because you were too afraid to talk to them. That’s what they’re there for. Friendship serves to comfort us through the trials of life and provide a real experiential meaning to this strange existence. We need to give in order to get, and also to address problems when they arise instead of ignoring them.
There’s a real fallaciously harmful aspect of Eastern philosophy and New Age thought that avoids negativity. It avoids conflict and all the ugly stuff people don’t want to deal with. And you know what? That’s what sells the most books. It’s what drives the most hits to blog posts. If I were to write about how perfect everything is all the time and how everyone should just love each other all the time and the universe is your best friend, maybe I’d land a book deal or get even more subscribed. But that isn’t real, and we all know it deep down. And, based on my experience, the people who subscribe too heavily to the hyper-positivistic New Age theosophy are often repressed or secretly miserable. Positive thinking can become a defense mechanism to the detriment of good old fashioned honest feeling. Sometimes we need conflict; sometimes we need to feel pain instead of transmute it into positivity. It’s alright.
And so, just as I’ve advised you to embrace sadness, I’ll say this: embrace conflict. Don’t initiate it if possible, obviously, but for the sake of your own psychological well being and the benefit of everyone else, do not hide your feelings. Your emotions set you apart from the beasts; they make you human. You think and act, but you also feel, and these feelings cannot always be curated by ideology. True emotion is unintentional, and to modify it we need to go deep into our mental caverns. Sometimes you just need to sit in a room and hurt for a little while. Sometimes you need to oversleep, or get angry with someone you love. These things become problems when they are converted into habits, but as isolated incidents they allow for balance. And at the end of the day, that’s what we can strive for: balance.
You need to embrace your darkness, essentially. If you’re feeling shitty, confront it. Fight the dragon, don’t chase it away with ignorance or sex or drugs or false positivity. You’ll only feel worse when the highs wear off. Much worse.
A close friend of mine came to me in distress recently. I was, to be frank, being a dick. I was being cold and distant and had no idea how to handle the situation as I’d never encountered anything like it in the past. And he stepped forward and called me out, and that was definitely difficult for him. And it was clearly too difficult for me to do anything about. I became paralyzed, as we so often do, by the fear of what came next. What future potential would be forfeited by my actions? This often binds me and creates anxiety. Close relationships can be too much for the uninitiated. I am an introvert and value my solitude, and when I feel it’s being infringed upon I can become hostile. Learning to be aware of what you make others feel is incredibly important and also quite difficult.
And so my friend brought up this issue and we talked it out. We went back and forth and dealt with it with honesty, diligence and as much integrity as we could muster. And it feels better now. These squabbles allow for relationships to move from plateau to plateau instead of just stagnate and get stale. As we go through life confronting what ails us rather than pushing it away, we recognize the beautiful relief that comes from fighting that which we fear and standing up for what is good. Sometimes it takes a very long time to figure out how to properly articulate one’s feelings to another; sometimes the other person gets hurt and needs to confront us first.
I hope to learn to recognize when I am being unintentionally cruel, passive or ignorant. And please, for the good of everyone else, let’s make some sort of resolution to transcend these repressive urges and be human. Sometimes two people need to get angry at one another. Sometimes you have to share how you feel even if what you say is devastating. And you may hear things you don’t want to hear, and you’ll most certainly have to deal with them. You’ll become a fuller person because of it.
On Dealing With Conflict | The Daily Zen
Featured photo credit: Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here cover art by Storm Thorgerson via thedailyzen.org