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Let’s Talk About Conflict

Let’s Talk About Conflict

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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Siobhan Harmer

Siobhan is a passionate writer sharing about motivation and happiness tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on August 12, 2020

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

Learning how to trust your gut, otherwise known as your intuition, can keep you safe. Your gut can guide you and help you build your confidence and resilience. My own gut instinct has saved me on more than one occasion. It has also guided me into making sound career choices and other exciting, big decisions. I’m also aware of the times when I’ve gone against my instincts and really regretted it later, wondering why I didn’t tune in to that valuable internal voice that we all have within us.

In this article, we’re going to explore why and how you should listen to your gut, as well as some concrete tips on how to make sure you’re making the most out of your gut instincts.

How to Listen to Your Gut

The key when making any big decision is to always take a minute to listen well to yourself and your inner compass. If you hear your actual voice saying yes while inside you’re silently screaming no, my advice is to ask for some time to think, or simply take a breath and pause before the yes or no escapes your mouth.

Use that moment to breathe, check in with yourself, and give the answer that feels congruent with who you are and what you want, not the one that always involves following the herd. Trusting your gut means having the courage to not simply go with the majority. It can be about holding your own. Here’s how to hone that skill for yourself and reap the rewards.

1. Tune Into Your Body

Your body gives you clues when you’re faced with a big decision. There are many visible and obvious symptoms that we feel in uncomfortable situations. Our body’s reaction is often something that we might try to hide, for example, blushing, being lost for words, or shaking. There are things we might do to try and hide that physical reaction, whether it’s wearing makeup, having a glass of wine or coffee to perk us up a bit, or learning to control our nerves.

However, paying attention to your body when you experience these feelings of anxiety can teach you so much and help you to make sound choices. Some people will experience an actual “gut” feeling of stomach ache or indigestion in an uncomfortable situation.

Ask yourself what’s really going on here, and explore what is happening behind your body’s response to the situation. What can your reaction or instinct teach you? Understanding that can be a clue and can help you either learn something about yourself, the situation, or other people. The answers are often within us.

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Sometimes we’ll get this “something’s not right here” feeling and cannot quite put our finger on it or explain it. That can still be incredibly useful and really guide us away from danger, even if we don’t know the reason.

In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell also argues this, making the point that sometimes our subconscious is better at processing the answer we need, and that we don’t necessarily need to take time to collect hours and hours of information to come to a reliable conclusion[1].

2. Ensure Your Head Is Clear Before Making a Decision

Energy, sleep, and good nutrition are so vital to nourishing our minds, as well as our bodies. There are times when your instinct could lead you astray, and one of these is when you are hungry, “hangry” (angry because you’re hungry!), tired, or anxious. If this is the case–and it may sound obvious–do consider sleeping or eating on it before making an important choice.

There is, in fact, a connection between our gut and our brain[2], which is where terms like “butterflies in the stomach” and “gut-wrenching” originate from. Stress and emotions can cause physical feelings, and ignoring them might do more harm than good.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think and Feel

Listening to your gut and really paying attention to it might involve standing up and being counted, calling something out, or taking a stand. As someone who works for myself, I’ve become used to following the less-travelled road, and that’s given me the chance to strike out on my own in other ways, too.

As they tell you in the planes, “put your own oxygen mask on first,” and part of that self-reliance is knowing what you really want and like and what is safe and good for you, including what resonates with your personal and business values. Making good decisions with this in mind means making choices that do not go against your own beliefs, even when it may mean taking a stand. This is part of trusting yourself and trusting your instincts.

This does not always mean taking the “safe” option, although keeping ourselves safe is an important part of the process. This is how we learn and grow, by following our own inner compass. When you do take risks, go outside of your comfort zone, or choose the less popular option, spending some time researching the facts can stand us in good stead, too.

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4. Do Your Research If Something Feels Off

As well as listening to our instincts, we can also back up the evidence for our chosen course of action before taking the leap. I had a gut feeling about the need for a learning and development network when I noticed my clients getting stuck with the same problems. I set up and now run such a network, but instead of simply going for it, without evidence, I followed up on my instinct with research.

Having confidence in your gut instinct through these kinds of tests can help to minimize your risks, as well as spur you on. It will encourage you to trust your gut again in the future and trust that you are an expert with foresight and experience. You are!

5. Challenge Your Assumptions

When you look at the assumptions your making, this could be the clue to mistakes you are making.

In order to check that our instincts are wise, we need to ask ourselves what blanks we might be filling in, either consciously or unconsciously. This is true not just when it comes to our own decision-making. It’s also true when we are listening to someone explain a problem or situation, and we’re about to jump in and give some advice. If we can learn to be aware of our own assumptions, we can become better listeners and better decision makers, too.

A useful tool to become more aware of your assumptions before making a final decision is simply to ask yourself, “What assumptions am I making about this situation or person?”

6. Educate Yourself on Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias is something we all have, and it can trip us up big time!

There is a vital caveat to bear in mind when wondering about whether you can trust your gut and the feelings your body gives you, and that’s having an awareness of your unconscious bias. Understanding your own bias–which is hard to do because it literally does happen in our subconscious–can help you to make stronger, better, decisions instead of re-confirming your view of the world over and over again.

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Bias exists, and it’s part of the human condition. All of us have it, and it colors our decisions and can impact on our performance without us realizing.

Unconscious bias happens at a subconscious level in our brains. Our subconscious brain processes information so much faster than our conscious brain. Quick decisions we make in our subconscious are based on both our societal conditioning and how our families raised us.

Our brains process hundreds of thousands of pieces of information daily. We unconsciously categorize and format that information into patterns that feel familiar to us. Aspects such as gender, disability, class, sexuality, body shape and size, ethnicity, and what someone does for a job can all quickly influence decisions we make about people and the relationships we choose to form. Our unconscious bias can be very subtle and go unnoticed..

We naturally tend to gravitate towards people similar to ourselves, favoring people who we see as belonging to the same “group” as us. Being able to make a quick decision about whether someone is part of your group and distinguish friend from foe was what helped early humans to survive. Conversely, we don’t automatically favor people who we don’t immediately relate to or easily connect with.

The downside of that human instinct to seek out similar people is the potential for prejudice, which seems to be hard-wired into human cognition, no matter how open-minded we believe ourselves to be. And these stereotypes we create can be wrong. If we only spend our time with and employ people similar to ourselves, it can create prejudices, as well as stifle fresh thinking and innovation.

We may feel more natural or comfortable working with other people who share our own background and/or opinions than collaborating with people who don’t look, talk, or think like us. However, diversity is not just morally right; having a mix of different people and perspectives that can be genuinely heard is also a valuable way to counter groupthink. Diversity stretches us to think more critically and creatively.

7. Trust Yourself

It is possible to learn how to truly trust yourself[3]. Like any talent or skill, practicing trusting your gut is the best way to get really good at it. When people talk about having great intuition or being good decision-makers, it’s because they’ve worked at honing those skills, made mistakes, learned from them, and tried again.

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Looking back at decisions you’ve made, what you did, what the outcome was, and what you’ve learned can help you become a stronger decision maker and develop solid self-trust and resilience. Making a mistake does not mean you are not great at decision-making; it’s a chance to grow and learn, and the only mistake is to ignore the lesson in that experience.

If you are in the habit of asking others for their input, then the trick here is to choose your inner circle wisely. Having a sounding board of people who have your best interests at heart is a valuable asset, and, combined with your own excellent instincts, can make you a champion decision maker.

The Bottom Line

The above tips are all actionable and easy to start immediately. It’s simply about switching your thinking around, slowing down, and taking great care of this amazing machine that is your body and mind!

Learning how to trust your gut is one of the most fundamental ways to make decisions that will help you lead the life you want and need. Tune into what your body is telling you and start making good decisions today.

More Tips on How to Trust Your Gut

Featured photo credit: Acy Varlan via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Science of People: Learn to Trust Your Gut Instincts: The Science Behind Thin-slicing
[2] Harvard Health Publishing: The gut-brain connection
[3] Psych Central: 3 Ways to Develop Self-Trust

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