Deeper understanding

Conflict resolution through self-awareness


"Whenever you're in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude." — William James


The ability to get along harmoniously with other people is important because there are few activities and situations in life that only involve the self. The more we can easily adjust ourselves to others, the smoother life will be. Yet we cannot please everyone all the time, so what do you do in times of conflict?

It's not difficult conditions but emotional hot buttons being pushed that create tension and strain in relationships. At the core of every conflict is a need for unconditional love, whether that be in the form of acceptance or understanding. Sometimes conflict arises out of not feeling heard, without judgement or commentary from the other person. Other times discord comes from the perception of lack of patience, compassion, or empathy from another person.

Quite often the path to a resolution is through empathy, as most of the time, we talk and act from our own viewpoint. What we need to see, or try to see, is the other person’s side.

"If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." — Wayne Dyer


Asking the question "What do I need to see?" has helped me to more quickly reach a place of acceptance or deeper understanding of the person with whom I'm in conflict. Feeling empathy for their situation allows the built-up pressure to be easily released, without the need for an explosion. Best of all, this is something I can do by myself, without the other person taking part.

Every conflict offers a lesson. Sometimes that lesson is merely to summon the courage to say "yes" or "no". Other times the lesson is to learn to stop deceiving yourself. In my own experience, the most painful and challenging conflicts are the ones that have taught me the most. Many lessons kept coming back in various forms, getting more and more dramatic, until I could see what I needed to see.

Once we see whatever it is that we need to see, it's easier to speak kindly, rather than to argue. Understanding and kind words get you much further than being right or blame ever will. Calm silence, sincerity and courteous words — even when agreeing to disagree — will create a smoother relationship. Treating each other with unconditional love and respect goes a long way.

"Love is the ability and willingness to allow those that you care for to be what they choose for themselves without any insistence that they satisfy you." — Wayne Dyer


People who get along well usually agree in viewpoint. Transformation in discordant relationships happens when we work to find common ground. We may agree to disagree, but as long as we treat each other with honor, respect, and dignity and recognize that each person is entitled to their own feelings and viewpoint, we can live side by side in harmony.

Now, let's say you've done all you can and are still at loggerheads with someone. The way to resolve the conflict is greater self-understanding and self-control. In other words, you must first know where your own faults lie so you can adjust your behavior with others. If you understand yourself, it's easier to understand (and empathize with) others.

"Real magic in relationships means an absence of judgment of others." — Wayne Dyer


Conflict cannot survive without your participation. If it's you who needs the other person to give you something — empathy, understanding, acknowledgment, etc. — then honor them and withdraw from the conflict. Next, give to yourself what you need so that you no longer need it from the other person. If you want to be loved, start loving others who need your love. If you want others to sympathize with you, start showing sympathy to those around you. If you want to be respected, be respectful to everyone, both young and old. Give what you want to receive.

This is how you resolve conflicts through inner self-awareness; this is how you become the change you want to see.

"Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again." — Og Mandino