The stage has been set. You were triggered by something someone said or did. You overreacted in a way you immediately regret.
A fire has been ignited. How do you recover? How do you put out the fire?
Conflict is a part of life’s game. It’s always there. We can’t avoid it. However, we can learn to recover from conflict better.
The power to change the course of a disagreement from one of destruction to one of connection is within your reach. The choice is yours.
Do you stand your ground, arms crossed, waiting for the other to concede; or do you remind yourself that your relationship is more important than your ego and that the strength and quality of the relationship is what’s important?
After many years of choosing the former, I now commit to the latter via course correcting.
Here’s how course correcting works:
At the very moment when I realize that my behavior is not helpful to the relationship—at that exact moment—I remind myself that now is the time to change the course of this disagreement.
I reach for my phone or I walk back in the room and I acknowledge my behavior by saying, I am sorry. That did not represent who I want to be in this relationship. I think what I really wanted to say was_____. I was offended when you said _____because it brought up______in me.
(At this point in the course correcting process, you may not be sure why this exchange brought up the reaction in you that it did; I will get to that in a minute. For now, the focus is on making a change in a positive direction.)
Acknowledging your behavior in such a way immediately after a person just offended you might seem intimidating. It feels like you’re backing down and allowing the offense to be okay, but you aren’t.
You are giving them insight. You are letting the person know how you were affected by what was said or done.
This is not a tool to blame them either. They were likely unaware of the affect they had on you, too. After all, we are all just bumbling through life in our personal bubbles occasionally bumping into each other. Allow space for that and then let them know how you feel. Otherwise, you could be dealing with deeper resentments down the road.
Who knows? You might even find they offer insights into what was going on at their end that you were not aware of. What a wonderful opportunity to get more intimate with a person you love!
Now to determine what the trigger was:
If you are not sure about where the trigger came from, it’s time to check in with yourself and get really clear and honest about what it was that triggered you. It wasn’t just the person who triggered you. It was something that was affected in you—so the answer is in you.
If you listen and ask yourself the right questions, these triggers will tell you what you need to know, and you need not run from them nor defend them. Welcome them instead.
>> What is it that I wanted from this situation?
>> What could the other person have given me that would have prevented that reaction?
>> Ideally, given the current situation, how would I like this to play out?
>> Does how I am engaging in the relationship now support me in being the type of person I want to be in this relationship? (Forget about the other person, we are only talking about you now.)
>> How do I want to be in this relationship?
It is through understanding what your triggers are that your true intentions become clear, and if your intentions are clear before you walk into the conversation, you can keep your relationship on the right track.
So, check in and ask yourself, Are my intentions to win or to strengthen and heal this relationship?
Listen very deeply for the answer.
If you want to win—and sometimes that might be your answer—then it’s probably best to work on some forgiveness or deeper soul searching for what you really expect from the other person first.
If your answer is to heal, then use that as your inner mantra during the conversation, because if the person is not responding the way you expect them to respond, a healing mantra will keep you on track and off the battlefield.
Catherine la O’ is a certified Integral Life Coach, blogger, yogini and music lover. As a blogger, Catherine offers self-exposing personal insights gathered from her own journey of self-discovery. She hopes her writing will inspire and support other women on a similar path. As a coach, she believes the center point of positive personal growth comes from understanding one’s own inner shadow and works with her clients using tools from that philosophy. If you are interested in connecting with Catherine you may find her through her website or through her Facebook page.
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Assistant Ed: Paula Carrasquillo/Ed: Kate Bartolotta