Thoughts on Relationships: Part 2 – Conflict


Hello, I feel compelled to get these out of the way so the next parts are coming sooner then anticipated.

When I looked back at the last part today I realized something – I’m probably using difference as an excuse to not try.

There is truth in what I said, but some people do genuinely try to look past these differences. Like myself, people would rather have good relationships then bad ones, so they tend to tolerate the shortcomings of others if they feel it’s worth it.

Maybe I’m just terrible at making a good impression (if we met in person you’d probably just regard me as some silent closed-off dude who struggles with communication). Maybe I just need to acknowledge a simpler truth; that many others may share my sentiments. Maybe it’s a sign I have less tolerance then I’d like to have.

The point is I have to take some ownership of this. I have to acknowledge that how I act & think affects those around me. After all, I’m the common denominator.

So if difference is an excuse, what is the real reason then? Well, it’s quite simple – I’m still fundamentally afraid to share myself with others.

I’m still afraid to let people know who I am. I’m still afraid of people disliking true aspects of myself. I’m still afraid to be hurt.

I’m still afraid to voice an honest opinion in front of strangers & people I know will think differently. Perhaps precisely because my thoughts & opinions tend to differ from theirs, no matter how ‘correct’ I may think myself to be.

Conflict is something I’m adverse to. Maybe because I feel vulnerable enough as it is when it arises. Perhaps it’s more because I know how irate people can get when you disagree with them; history & the news is full of people doing dumb destructive shit for just that reason.

There tends to be an immaturity about it I hate seeing. I know it’s something that isn’t good to let slip but it’s tough to call someone out on it. I know how easy it is to find myself on the ‘wrong’ side of an argument.

Perhaps we are hurt more because what we believe to be true is not true for another. The idea that something we value could not be what we think it is, or could even be bad for us, is sure to bring about some uncomfortable thoughts & feelings.

Regardless of how I feel about conflict, I don’t believe it’s a bad thing. In fact I’ve been thinking – maybe I should learn to enjoy it. Maybe I should instead start to think of conflict as a game (most games do centre on this). I’m not going to start fights with everyone but I feel life would be more enjoyable if I like the idea of someone disagreeing with me.

There are good reasons to think this way:

  • Conflict brings awareness to an issue & all the aspects it could have.
  • Conflict allows for resolution, & allows at least one side to grow & learn from the experience (typically the one at fault).
  • It can turn an intimidating experience into something potentially fun.
  • Making a stand for something you believe in can give you a real sense of pride & integrity.
  • Pain is a facet of life we can not deny, but without it we can not learn. Might as well accept & utilize it.

Conflict can however go sour very easily, so how you go about it is also highly important. Beneficial resolution for all sides should be the ideal goal of all conflicts, though I know that requires all sides to be cooperative. In my mind, a calm thoughtful manner that considers other perspectives is the best approach.

Embracing conflict means being willing to feel pain, but it also means being willing to hurt another person – something I’m even more adverse to doing. Again, not seeking to hurt people for the sake of it, but there are cases where you need to let someone know an action or thought is harmful. It means making them consider how bad it is so less pain will occur later. If it can’t be reasonably justified it likely needs to change.

This does however bring to mind cases where good intent can turn into fascism (e.g. I’m not going to berate a smoker who knows what effect it has on them). This isn’t about forcing people to be a certain way, but to give them awareness so they can change themselves.

Sounds great to me. Now I just need to figure out how to actually be that way. Guess that’s where self help exercises come into play. Identity will be the last part.


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