It is Possible to Lose your Fear of Conflict!

Why Does Conflict Hurt So Much?

The language of conflict is nearly always disrespectful…attacking. Most conflicts destroy one of our most basic needs…to be heard and understood. Many conflicts damage a relationship that once felt essential to your wellbeing. The pain comes from being misunderstood and attacked by someone I care about. And here’s a deeper reason: there is also pain from acting in a way that I don’t like about myself. The conflict exposes attitudes and behaviors in me that damage my self-respect. Conflict often reveals flaws in my character, or relationship skills, or habits that mean I need to learn, grow and change. But it is possible to lose your fear of conflict!

Turning Conflict Into Greater Intimacy

When healthy conflict management skills are learned and practiced, conflict is the doorway to greater intimacy! “What?” you say! “You’ve got to be kidding!” No, it’s true! I’ve experienced this amazing phenomenon. And not once, but several times. Although ideal when both persons are willing to practice respectful conflict management skills, it also works when you are the only one using those magical tools. The tools are simple, but difficult to put into practice if you allow your ego to remain in control. When provoked…triggered…the ego becomes a two-year-old having a tantrum. Two-year-olds aren’t that good at conflict managment skills!

Learning Magic Skills

If you want to lose your fear of conflict, you must learn three basic, simple, magic skills. First magic skill: listen for the purpose of understanding the other’s point of view. Everyone’s point of view is valid to them. There are good reasons why he wants the garage organized “his way,” or she wants the bedroom decorated “her way.” Changing our beliefs from “my way is right” to “everyone’s point of view is right,” was the first step in healing my marriage with Jim. This concept lays the foundation for effective problem solving.

More Magic

Does that mean you never get your way? No! Here’s where the second magic skill comes into play! Deliver your point of view (thoughts, opinions, feelings, concerns and desires) using respectful, non-attacking language. This is known as “I” language. “I” language doesn’t attack, blame or criticize. “I” language simple states my thoughts, how I feel about this topic, my desires for the future in regard to this issue, and why I want the solution to be a certain way. If the other person doesn’t know about repeating back as a listening to understand skill, respectfully ask them to summarize what they hear you saying.

Stay in Your Adult Self

Do not allow your inner two-year-old (ego) to jump into the discussion and derail it. If the other person get’s triggered and is disrespectful to you, you either (respectfully) repeat back the essence of what they want or (respectfully) postpone the discussion for a future time. If you are both able to continue, then make sure you can accurately describe each other’s preferences. (Third Magic Skill) Then state, “I’d like to find a solution to this issue that meets both of our needs. What is most important to you?” Listen, and then state what is most important to yourself. Brainstorm solutions that meet both of your basic desires. Gary Smalley says, “There are no problems that cannot be solved. There are only people who are unwilling to resolve them. SO TRUE!

Losing Your Fear of Conflict

When learning to use these skills, it is very hard to keep the inner two-year-old from jumping in with her insistence on being right, or his insistence in getting his own way. But when you keep an adult you in charge, these skills really do seem like magic. My late husband Jim was so afraid of conflict that he would do anything to avoid it, even make promises in the moment that he had no intention of keeping…or avoiding needed conversations for fear they would “explode into a fight.” But once we learned these skills and got good at using them consistently, we never had another fight and all issues were discussed and resolved respectfully and quickly. As a result, our emotional intimacy gained depth. The last seventeen years of our lives together we lived with a constant flow of loving circulating between us without interruption.

You can do this too! Learn these skills and more from our book, “How to Stay Married & Love It!” or from the online course, “Millionaire Marriage Club.” Costs are minimal and the payoffs are enormous!

You have my love and support,

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