3 Tips On Coping With Conflict

The idea of confrontation has always made me sick to my stomach. Up until very recently, I got incredibly anxious even considering someone didn’t like me or that I might have to engage in conflict – whether it was at work or in my personal life.

That was, until therapy came into the picture. Each day, I’m learning that anger is a healthy emotion when valid, and that it’s completely acceptable to stick up for yourself when you know the situation is wrong. Learning to argue in a healthy way is one of the main ingredients to this whole “adulting” thing, and everything from little fights with your partner to standing your ground at work fall into that category.

Doing anything to avoid confrontation is not only counterproductive, it can stunt your emotional growth. We’ve been conditioned to think that fighting is harmful, dangerous or exposes us as vulnerable to the negative emotions of others but in the endit’s really about owning our truth and standing our ground when someone enters to shift it.

In the past few months, I’ve dealt with a lot of conflict. While it can be emotionally draining, we must learn to stick up for ourselves. If you’re having trouble fighting the fear of confrontation, here are a few tips:

Respond, Don’t React 

I’ve had a lot of trouble with this. Whenever I feel attacked or cornered, the first instinct with my own anxiety is to get angry. That usually isn’t the best response, although anger can be a valid feeling.

Then there is a completely different knee-jerk reaction some people with anxiety experience. Fear. The intense feeling or need to hide, panic or even please them to make the conflict end. Fight the feeling – you are allowed to disagree with others. 

Deep breath. In and out. Focus on expressing a rational, direct and clear response – do not just react in fear. 

Getting to this place takes both practice and the right tools, so don’t beat yourself up if future conflict brings on an emotional reaction – even if you’re doing your best to avoid it.

 

Practice Saying No 

Oh boy, have I learned this. Perpetually a people pleaser, the word no wasn’t really in my vocabulary. With my own anxiety, I would avoid conflict and just agree or say yes because I was afraid of the other person leaving – abandonment. Particularly in a romantic relationship, I would appease the partner to stay away from bigger fights or getting emotional on my end, because then they would definitely leave, or so Anxiety Erica led me to believe. 

In my most recent relationship, I continued to grow and break the boundaries of conflict avoidance. Even though the relationship didn’t last, I am thankful that that specific partner respected and allowed me to get mad, to start a fight. I’ve never been comfortable with it due to my fear of abandonment, so I consider that to be growth – no matter the end result.

If saying no is something that’s on the more difficult side, start small. Whether you’re at the grocery store, a cafe, or movie theater, practice refusing. Take the baby steps and like repetition therapy, you will quickly learn that the world doesn’t end when you stand your ground. No one will yell at you, there won’t be any negative consequences – you’re allowed to say no. 

 

Know Your Value 

One of the main reasons conflict anxiety exists is from undervaluing ourselves. Especially at work, it can be hard to know we are in the right when a manager, coworker or any employee is directly engaging with you. With the normal instinct being to shrink and hide, we must firmly plant our feet on the ground and speak our truth.

Panic and fear have no place in conflict when we are clear and direct. It takes confidence, self worth, and a helluva lot of growth to reach the place where truth matters more than the negative consequences our anxiety creates, but once you get there, stay there – stay empowered. 

We are only our truth, it will set us free and keep us from any harm. If you know you are in the right, fight for that feeling.

 

Believe me, I know this takes time. This isn’t some snap of the fingers shit – practice makes perfect. In fact, the whole reason I wrote this post was because in my last therapy session, I spoke with my therapist on how I handled a confrontation in my life, and halfway through my story I noticed she had a look of approval on her face.

When I finished, she told me that she was proud of me. She said, just a little over a year ago, I would have handled a conflict exactly like that very differently. It would have been a series of hurt, anxiety, fear, and intense crying. And eventually appeasement. This time, I responded with a healthy combination of anger, authenticity, and owning my truth. I didn’t have any concern for the consequences that came after the confrontation, or a crippling fear of abandonment – I just looked to my truth. I’m proud of how far I’ve come, it’s a long journey to unlearn behaviors like these.

 

 

 

Do you have a fear of conflict or confrontation? Share how you handle it in the comments below! 

 

8 thoughts on “3 Tips On Coping With Conflict

  1. Hey Anxietyerica, I read your post, and it was a reassuring one. Recently, Iv become very short tempered who can go to the lengths of almost ripping people’s skin apart when cornered or not heard, or subjected to similar things which irritated me in the past. i am unable to handle things “in a healthy way”. The post made me feel better that it’s good that i fight for myself. But, then i wish i could to it in a peaceful way. ..im hoping your blog would help thay build up.. thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so sorry to hear you have an issue with anger. I have one as well, I can be very short tempered. Handling our anger in a healthy way is so crucial! I’m so glad this post resonated with you and I hope you’re able to fight for yourself in a peaceful way. ❤️

      Like

  2. Fullheartandsoulliving

    Thanks so much for this post! I used to be such a people pleaser as well. I thought that I would be accepted and loved but I realized the hard way that I need to find love within myself, to love myself. By doing that, I no longer needed to be a people pleaser, and actually be strong minded to help others who need help.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, you are so right! It can be difficult but we must look within when it comes to conflict and how we react. I’m so glad to hear you’ve found the strength and tools to deal with it in a healthy way. Thanks for your comment!

      Like

  3. Mike

    Hi anxietyerica I enjoyed your post – I have a difficult wife who makes fun of me when I get anxious – recently we were trying to downsize and had difficulty finding a bungalow within our pricerange but then found one farther away than we wanted to move and in a small town with very few shops / facilities Now we were impressed with this property but after some weeks I decided that it wasn’t worth it as the area had little to offer. Well she blew her stack and has been punishing me ever since. Bear in mind I am 68 and retired but she continues to work and says I have nothing to be worried or anxious about at present ( unlike work pressures previously ) how can I deal with someone like this – maybe I am too sensitive for my own good !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Mike!

      Thank you so much for sharing. I know it is hard to confront emotions such as these and I commend you for commenting.

      Conflict is difficult when you haven’t experienced it or confronted it head on. I have always been afraid to show my negative emotions like anger or sadness to partners with a fear they would leave, but it’s important that we communicate all emotion – positive and negative. While I don’t have experience being married, I can say that your feelings are completely valid. It is never okay to make fun of someone with anxiety or mock them. I would say stick up for yourself and tell her how it makes you feel. Maybe even marriage counseling could help?

      I hope this has helped you, and have a great day my friend.

      Like

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