Avoiding Conflict: Why We Do It
Do you hate conflict? Do you find yourself doing almost anything to avoid getting into a conflict? Have you decided that sharing your opinion is too risky so you simply go along with others even when you don’t want to? Are you a good listener but struggle to tell others what you think?
Welcome to the club… it’s a big one! There are many ways to find yourself communicating this way. Your parents may communicate similarly. On the other hand, your parents may have been overbearing and made expressing your opinion unavailable. Another interesting possibility may be that you were born with the ‘gift’ of sensitivity. This gift takes years to learn to manage and when young everyone may seem overbearing. The inattentive form of ADHD can lead to this form of communication as can trauma, particularly when the trauma occurs when you are very young.
Avoiding Conflict: The Pros and Cons
The tendency to listen well and avoid conflict may have many advantageous features. Your ability to see conflict coming and ‘finesse’ your way around it might make you a great peace maker. Your ability as a listener may help you to ‘open up’ someone’s concerns. You may be a great team player with the ability to smooth the rough edges of others who tend to be more contentious.
I am very sure that you also know that chronically avoiding conflict creates more than a few problems. You have likely found that everyone likes to talk to you about their problems. It’s a great skill to develop in your career. In life, you have also likely discovered these same people have little time for your concerns. When you first discover that you have little in the way of personal support you may feel shocked and angry until you realize you are the one who set up your relationships this way. Forget about getting good deals, you likely always pay full price. Worse, people may seem to be able to see you coming and double the price of anything you are interested in.
The problems of these imbalances only multiply in intimacy. Dating can be a nightmare as I am sure you already know. Then there are the issues of any long term committed relationship. The more you agree to do, the more you end up doing. The less you communicate what you need, the less your needs are met. It can get to the point where your mate becomes frustrated with your inability to tell them what you want, even when they ask. How often have you cringed when they asked, “Where you would like to eat?”
Know Yourself to Handle Conflict with Wisdom
What can you do to grow your ability to know who you are? How can you remain present even during a conflict? How can you learn to spend a little more time with you, even as you are talking with someone, so at least you can know what you think? I talked about this with Amy Weintraub creator of LifeForce Yoga. She shared her thoughts about the value of building your presence in the moment. She also has experienced the personal resilience that is possible with daily practice. In Yoga, your practice involves being more present while you exercise. Much like any form of meditation you feel into and become more in touch with your mind/body experience. With Yoga, this practice includes remaining in touch as you move.
Let’s take our prayer/meditation practice off the cushion and into our lives. Let’s learn to practice remaining connected to our true self and our true values as we give and receive with compassion.
To learn more about how Yoga and other techniques can help you get in touch with your true self, check out the Oneness Approach podcast.