Before we can understand how to avoid inner conflict, it is probably a good idea to define the concept of conflict. According to the Oxford Dictionary, conflict is “a state of mind in which a person experiences a clash of opposing feelings or needs.” We have all experienced these feelings – it is part of the challenge of being human. How do we normally resolve these challenging times – we talk to friends, we write, we read, we mull – but eventually we will come to some resolution that we are hopefully happy with.
Why does this inner conflict occur? This is a complex question that is influenced by many factors – our upbringing, our current circumstances, our health, our community, our religion and our peers. Conflict can occur when we are torn between our wants and needs – and the expectations that are imposed upon us. When compromise gives way to a feeling of overwhelming submission it can leave us feeling sad, angry, hostile or even invisible. This is bad enough if it occurs occasionally, but when it is a constant in our life – there is a problem!
Do you truly understand yourself? What are your hopes, dreams, desires in life? If you look at your values, it can help you to recognize whether you are living your life in accordance with your values. So, what are values? Values can be described as the beliefs that define what is most important to you. They guide each of your choices in life. For example, if one of your key values is family, you might try to spend extra time at home, whereas if you value success in your career, the opposite would occur. Understanding your values will help you recognize areas of your life that need more attention, what areas to prioritise in the future, and will guide your behaviour accordingly.
All too often we find that couples who are in conflict have opposing values. If one party values success, whilst the other party values family – there can be a problem.
When we do not truly understand our core values, it becomes too easy to just float through life, being guided by those closest to us. We may feel angry, disheartened, unconfident, sad or hostile – but we don’t understand why. We can become passive, aggressive or passive/aggressive in nature – but we don’t understand why. When our behaviour is guided by the values of those around us, inner conflict can occur.
So where to start? Sit down and work out your core values. There are lists of values available on the internet. Print one out and tick those values that are the most important to you. Is your lifestyle, behaviour, career, friendship groups, hobbies in harmony with these values? If not, what changes do you need to make?
When we truly understand those things that are the most important to us, it helps us set boundaries, and adjust our behaviour accordingly. For example, if honesty is one of your key values, you will ensure that you do not lie and will not accept dishonesty from other people. By appreciating what is most valuable to you, and adjusting your behaviour and lifestyle to accord with those values it will in turn create a happier, more confident, more assertive you.
Furthermore, when we can accept that every human is entitled to have different values, it can help us become more understanding, empathetic and forgiving.
We often act upon our values subconsciously. Those people we are most attracted to are often those with similar values to our own. Test this theory. Speak to your partner and most trusted friends and find out how similar your values truly are…