I went to Al-Anon today and we are having a special month-longs session dedicated to relationships and intimacy. Today’s topic was conflict and it was hella poignant. I want to share these questions and if you give yourself a little while to answer the questions for yourself, it helps for self-awareness and help to decide what about your behavior you would like to understand.
1. How would I define conflict?
2. With whom do I most often have conflicts?
3. What are common/recurring conflict areas for me? (addictions, money, sex, time together, chores, parenting, family, stressors challenging our sense of love and fairness?)
4. What are examples of challenging conflicts that I’m involved in/affected by?
5. What is it so hard to embrace (or at least address) conflicts? Are there perceived vs. real risks?
6. What happens when I don’t embrace (or at least address) conflicts?
7. Why should I embrace conflict?
8. When and How can I healthily embrace conflict? With how much “force”? How should I vary my response by person, situation, importance? Vary my level of trust, set ground rules, etc?
9. What program tools (steps, traditions, concepts, slogans) can I use to embrace conflict?
Some of my answers:
1. How would I define conflict? Feeling unease w/a situation and fearful to express myself directly and fully – I am afraid of abandonment, invalidation, and even violence if I bring up something that makes me upset or uncomfortable. Then I often have conflict within my own mind and heart, doubting the reasons for my unease to begin with. I’ll sometimes even invalidate my own feelings, thoughts, and experiences unknowingly in order to avoid conflict.
2. With whom do I most often have conflicts? Myself… romantic partners… I very rarely have conflict with those who I am not connected to, acquaintances or strangers. (People I don’t know well.)
3. What are common/recurring conflict areas for me? (addictions, money, sex, time together, chores, parenting, family, stressors challenging our sense of love and fairness?) * Proper, respectful communication (my expectation of that and my conflicting behavior of avoidance that ends up in the same behavior…) *myself -> judgement of actions and “the shoulds,” time management/productivity/follow through. *fear of judgment when expressing my honest opinion *lack of appreciation for work that I have done for someone
4. What are examples of challenging conflicts that I’m involved in/affected by? *Criticism from others is challenging. *Recognition that others’ actions/opinions are reflections of them, not me *trying to control other people’s decisions by subtlety vs. directness/assertiveness *inconsistent behavior (actions vs. words, do as I say.. not as I do..)
(I haven’t answered these questions yet, but I’ll share later once I have time to consider them and respond.)