When conflict arises, are you speaking your truth?
Life presents us with an ongoing series of situations that can strain relationships. Conflict is a natural part of life, with the potential to arise when you face resistance, pressure, change, or merely interacting with others. It brings up uncomfortable feelings which can threaten well-being. Whenever friction arises from unmet or competing needs, wants, and values, a gap occurs, creating a “connection chasm.”
Our judgments, assumptions, frustrations, annoyances, misunderstandings, expectations, suspicions, opposing perspectives, and more can all spark conflict, an inevitable part of life’s interactions. When that connection chasm forms, anger, whether mild or wild, can result. Yet anger doesn’t have to eat you up, pollute the atmosphere, or ruin your relationships. In fact, it’s often because they’re not dealt with, that the gap grows wider and you become distressed, drained, and disconnected by them.
When some people are peeved, it’s unmistakable; they let you know their feelings in no uncertain terms, and they “tell it like it is.” At the other end of the spectrum are those who repress, swallow, and stuff their feelings because of the discomfort they produce. Holding back powerful feelings breeds resentment and sabotages authentic relationships, which must be based on emotional integrity.
If you stuff your feelings about something that’s upsetting, you know your reasons for remaining silent–believing some matters just aren’t worth ruining a relationship, making a scene, or rocking the boat (although that boat is already riding over troubled water!) Or you’re uncomfortable with conflict and want to “keep the peace” at any price (except your own), or knowing that by admitting your unhappiness with a person or situation might set the stage for major change and you’re not ready for that, at least not now. So you bite your lips until they’re raw and stuff it down . . . again.
But the drawbacks of suppressing your anger can add up. Over time, irritations or issues fester, and the pent-up energy from stuffed feelings can make you resentful and bitter. Not speaking your truth in alignment with your needs and values is destructive to emotional integrity and healthy relationships. And keeping silent on issues that concern you is particularly harmful to long-term relationships. It takes an enormous amount of emotional and physical energy to keep powerful feelings stuffed inside where they silently brew. Read the rest of this entry »