Yes. There IS one thing you simply MUST do when in conflict.
If you don’t, you’ll stay stuck, won’t resolve things, and be discouraged. And your relationship simply won’t change.
What I’m about to share with you is something that will change your life if you can do it.
I want to give you the info on the foundation of how to do conflict well, because it deeply impacts our effectiveness in literally ANY difficult situation. This “must have skill” is very simply this: Respect Yourself.
You know the feeling, you are in a discussion and things get heated. You feel blamed, angry, hurt, all sorts of negative emotions. So you say something back that’s equally not helpful.
Or you say nothing because you know it won’t go well.
None of those options are respectful of yourself or the person you are with.
You don’t have to feel like that.
Part of what we are purposed to do in ministry is help people deepen relationships with themselves. We have to know who and Whose we are. We have to be willing to know ourselves. Risk exploring, with God’s help, our emotions. Without these things, it’s just so hard to deepen relationships with God and other people, no matter how many skills we develop.
It starts with the self. And I’m not talking about ego or selfishness.
It’s not letting other people’s opinions of you put any pressure on you, or dictate how you feel. It is being confident when other people disagree, so much so that you don’t even get upset at all and can actually work through the conflict in a way that deeply connects you and the other person.
As we say at Greater Impact – Conflict resolved well creates connection, conflict resolved poorly damages relationship.
And it starts with what we truly think of ourselves and how we talk to ourselves, which is reflected in whether or not we actually respect ourselves.
The keys to respecting ourselves are three things:
1. Wrap your identity up in God’s opinion of you, not people’s
2. Being able to give yourself grace and compassion in the middle of difficult moments
3. Being able to speak the truth in a loving and compassionate way to someone else without fear
Numbers 1 & 3 take awhile, and I’m sorry, but we can’t address those here today, but I wanted you to know what they are.
I’ll give you the keys to #2 right now, however.
They have everything to do with how you speak to yourself.
The reason this matters is how we treat ourselves in relationships deeply impacts how the relationship goes. And in the middle of conflict, when everything is heated up and getting hotter, we either make things better or make them worse.
How we speak to ourselves determines which direction things will go.
Know that these things can become such deeply ingrained habits that we can walk through them in just a few seconds without even being aware we are doing it!
Keys to respecting yourself in conflict:
(based on Dr. Marsha Linehan’s work on validation and Dr. Kristin Neff’s work on self-compassion)
1. Be present with yourself when upset, don’t ignore the bad feelings, distract yourself from them, avoid them or run away from them. This is hard.
2. Accept that you are experiencing emotion. “I’m feeling upset /angry/something right now. I may need to take a short break from this to understand what’s going on and get calm.”
3. Reflect accurately on how you are feeling without criticism or judgment. “I’m sad that my spouse said this mean thing to me. It hurts a lot. I’m really disappointed because I feel like it’s my fault. This person is supposed to love me, so I’m feeling unloved. And I’m feeling responsible and guilty for that.”
4. Normalize feelings based on your personal history. “It is understandable that I would be sensitive to what he said and feel responsible and unloved. Anyone would feel unloved and hurt. I grew up with my parents refusing to take ownership for stuff and blaming me instead. I grew up being blamed, so it’s normal for me to feel that way here.”
5. Communicate deep understanding to yourself in truth. “I’m as normal as anyone else because everyone can be hurt by mean words. Everyone also have areas of sensitivity. It’s okay that I feel like this. It’s also not my fault that my spouse said that to me. That wasn’t nice and I didn’t deserve that. I did say something equally mean right before that, however. That probably didn’t help but meanness wasn’t necessary. I’m going to own my part which was the mean thing I said and apologize for it. I can also share that I was hurt as well.”
I hope that helps! I know it is hard, but if you can master these things, taking those thoughts captive and taming them to Wisdom, then you can have the confidence to not wrap your identity up in other people’s opinions of you, AND handle conflict more effectively.
Would love to hear your thoughts on this today!!
Love to you,
I hope you’re registered for the free webinar today on these things with Dr. Marcus Warner of Deeper Walk International. It’s at 12:00pm EDT. You’ll have to register for it, but worth doing.