How Do You Deal With Conflict?

I’m terrible at conflict. It sits in my stomach and eats away at me.

Don’t get me wrong, I am very capable of holding my own in business negotiations; I don’t loose my temper, I am a model of Christian control and charity. I am able to reason and hold my side of the argument and analyse if and where I am wrong.

With family, however, it always seems that the depth of the problem doesn’t always allow the simple resolution that should be possible through discussion.

Sometimes, talking doesn’t resolve an issue. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you can’t make it right on your own. It takes two to fight, and so it takes two to be reconciled.

If you find yourself in a position of recurring strife with a member of your family; if you seem to have the same old argument, sparked off by new circumstances, but about the same unresolved issues, how do you deal with it?

A lot of how we deal with such things depends on which sex we are–is it a male to male conflict or a female to female conflict–male to female and vice versa–that sort of thing. And on top of that, how much of our ego and self interest is involved, and do the persons in the conflict disagree on fundamentals, etc.

Having said all that, though, I usually just let the other person think what s/he wants to think and love them no matter what. I don’t judge my family members lifestyles or preach at them (they all know where I stand), but I let them know that I love them and that they can tell me anything they need to.

Some times the best offensive is not to have one. It’s generally better to surrender than to fight, whenever possible. And it’s always best to give others the right to fail, for only through failure do most of us learn the hardest lessons.

I agree with Della. I had to go to Confession because of a similiar situation in which you described. And what bothered me the most about the situation was that it appeared, on all levels, to NOT bother the other party but it ate at me. So, it was time for me to speak up, speak out and pray. I finally put my thoughts and feelings to words and made them read it, I spoke out by putting my foot down on the very issues that bother me, regardless of how they’re recycled, and I put the rest to prayer. I went to Confession to reconcile my anger about this situation and did something for myself to lift myself up spiritually which helped emotionally and mentally.

I can honestly say I love this family member, but I’m no longer angered by what they say or do towards me. And I’ve done what Della describes in the last paragraph and trust me when I say it feels pretty good to not have to worry about that person. By not responding to my family member, I’ve given them nothing with which to attack me.

good luck and I’ll keep you in my prayers during your search for an answer. :smiley:

I wanted to tell you what I do when a conflict sits in my stomach and eats away at me. Sometimes I find myself really dwelling on it and thinking of how I’d like to give that person a piece of my mind.

I catch myself thinking this way and say to myself, “I’m not going to stew over this like a prune!” and start saying short little prayers such as O Blood and Water which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a Fount of mercy for us, I trust in You. This prayer was given by Jesus to St. Faustina and gives the grace of conversion to one sinner each time it’s prayed. I picture the devil trying to disrupt my prayer by making me stew over the conflict, and then I simply refuse to do so and fill my mind with prayer instead. I’m not going to let the devil take away my peace–a gift given to me by God Himself!!

Another thing that I find helpful is to ask God to show you exactly how He would like you to pray about this situation. Maybe you need to pray for a particular kind of healing for this person (or maybe even a person who is feeding into this conflict behind the scenes that you don’t know about yet). Just like treating a physical disease, certain types of prayer are more suited to certain problems. You wouldn’t get much relief from a cold by taking pain medicine–you need medicine that will target your cold symptoms. And sometimes God wants us to use a certain type of prayer to target our particular intentions (calling on St. Anthony for help finding something that’s lost, for example).

When confronted by a touchy subject that is driving me nuts but that I can’t say anything about without being offensive myself, it is off to the Passive-Agressive Olympics. Let us say that we have a few dear friends who I am absolutely certain do not read minds.

In some cases, this can be remedied by a little gentle honesty, yes. The fallout is usually nothing like I envision. Nevertheless, when test comments come back very negative, convincing me that it is a case where I can’t realistically foresee changing the person by saying anything, I think it is just my case to call up a bit more charity and get over it.

In bad cases, it takes me a few days to get over that mixture of anger and guilt that comes from smiling at somebody when I’d really rather give them a swift smack. When Christ comes to your home as somebody who makes a big deal about doing your dishes for you and then puts a quarter of them away with food still clinging to them (there is nothing wrong with their eyesight–they were showing off how fast they were!) or as someone who fancies themself a spell-binding storyteller and keeps cutting a more timid guest off in mid-sentence because the conversation is veering away from what personally interests them or as a houseguest who keeps making the same dish for Thanksgiving that nobody eats, and in ever-expanding quantities every year, leaving us the choice of eating it all or wasting it, it is a most distressing disguise. It is something I really wish I could deal with better than I do.

If they come at me, I can manage that. Cede me the high road in an argument, and I won’t spare the horses. It is the offenses that I percieve as unintentional or as those things a good host must pass over without comment that put my teeth on edge.

Is that conflict? Not on the outside. On the inside, though, wow.

oh, that’s me, at least while the discussion is going on, then when they leave, I do the yelling, stomping around and throwing things.

Thanks everyone, some really lovely replies. :slight_smile: I feel really much better reading through, makes one feel very supported, especially in this Catholic network!

In this particular situation, my brother and I work together- so there’s no escape…If you know what I mean.

I keep quiet- there are loads of issues, lots of this I could get cross about, but peace and harmony are paramount. If asked I give my point of view. But I do not bully, or dictate.

Still, every now and then he decides to criticise ME!!! There are lots of old issues that come up every time and these revolve largely around his feelings of inferiority or insecurity which probably result from the departure of our Father some 6 years ago (they were very close, we all worked together and my brother, understandably felt heavily betrayed). I have come to the conclusion that I cannot change these feelings in my brother. Trying to make up for them just makes me more resentful.
They are things he needs to deal with himself before he can move on.
I end up feeling like everything is great in the family, except for when he decides it shouldn’t be, and then I have to undergo this torture of self examination and sadness. It also must be bad for our mother who is a shadow of her former self really, but has really made some great progress over the last few months.
On this particular occasion I have not been the conciliatory party I usually am, but stood up to him and said

*“this is your problem, not mine, so do what you will.” *

The result has been that it has not been mentioned since. Still, I can’t help but hear the words of Jesus in Matthew 5: 22-25 and I feel that as a dedicated, careful, considered and prayerful Catholic, I really should be able to resolve these issues.
Since Dad left, I have been forced to assume the mantle of ‘head of the family’. This has been a good change in many ways and the family is, overall, better and stronger now. People do come to me with their problems and I am able to sort out their conflicts.

Makes me feel even more of a failure with my brother. :frowning:

With regards to prayer…I have been praying all the time about this (I then feel guilty that I am wasting God’s time repeating myself). At communion on Sunday, I was praying and praying, and I had the most wonderful feeling of love after communion. A feeling that Jesus was with me, he was there and he understood. It was a physical thing, like a warmth permeating every pore, spreading out into my being. A feeling that it would all be ok. God is there and he understands.

Today and yesterday, it’s still on my mind. I just wonder if I am justifying things for myself, or if my answer to prayer is real. (I know it is, I’m just trying to interpret it…If you know what I mean). I suppose that even if it is real, ultimately, it’s not enough to do nothing. I must continually seek recociliation.

Do not be hard on yourself. Mother Theresa often said that God did not call her to be successful. God called her to be faithful.

Remember that when it comes to problem solving you do not sort out other people’s problems. You help them sort out their own problems. That is your gift. The solution never happens, though, except that they consent to it and do it. That part is out of your control, nothing that you can take credit or responsibility for. If you try to, you will only lay a useless burden of pride and frustration upon yourself. You do your part, but let God be God.

As for “wasting God’s time”…God has eternity. Jesus advised us to be persistent in prayer. Not only can God take it…that is what God wants of us. It is so good to hear that you were open to that message from Our Lord Himself. I think you’ll be ok!

I find that making excuses for behaviour helps me. “Excuse and don’t accuse” is a nice motto.
When we can see that other persons may be dealing with their own issues but are expessing them on people not really involved in the problem.
Most fights are symbolic victories. We are not usually fightin over a point or an issue but our value as a person. We all have our limts and it is the way our Lord humbles us. To see we are recoving sinners like alcoholics are either practicing or recovering. There will always be set backs but praise God you fell bad because that is a health Christian reaction.
I often pray to Our Lady Queen of Peace. Because I can lose my temper pretty well at times too:(

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