Conflict is an unavoidable part of our lives. It naturally arises as a result of people’s opposing needs, desires, miscommunications, and just plain self-centeredness. It can seem like the best way to handle conflict is by avoiding it altogether, but in the end, this kind of approach can cause more damage than it does good.
Conflict in recovery.
There are many reasons why conflict can become an even bigger issue for those who are new to recovery. Most people have used drugs or alcohol as a way to avoid conflict for many years, and are now faced with the reality of their situation. They find that the conflicts they thought were left behind or resolved are still present and stronger than ever. This realization makes it necessary for someone in recovery to learn new strategies for dealing with conflict.
Other reasons for the increase in conflicts during recovery include:
- Having a self-absorbed attitude that starts during addiction and carries on into recovery. Having an increased focus on oneself and consistently putting one’s own needs above the needs of others can lead to a great deal of conflict with the people in your life.
- Not knowing how to cope with conflict in a healthy way can only worsen the situation. Many ex alcoholics and addicts develop maladaptive strategies for handling conflict. Some of these will include defensiveness, blaming others, and denial. When they continue to use these strategies, conflicts only continue and worsen. New strategies must be learned.
- Being highly opinionated is also another cause of conflict. This causes a person to fail to see the value in or even acknowledge other people’s views. Having a black and white view of the world usually stems from not valuing themselves and having low self-esteem.
- Not knowing how to communicate is probably the most common cause of conflict. This is also very likely due to a sense of low self-esteem and simply not knowing the right skills for good communication.
Learning healthy strategies for preventing and dealing with conflict.
As mentioned earlier conflict is unavoidable, but that doesn’t mean that we are powerless over the situations that may cause them to arise. There are some things we can do to be proactive and try to prevent any unnecessary conflicts from starting. These strategies include:
- Communicating clearly by asking questions, asking for further clarification on issues that are confusing to you, and practicing assertiveness. When you make your own needs clear without stepping on the toes of others, you can save yourself from miscommunication and conflict further down the line.
- Taking the time to listen to others also prevents conflict. Often times a situation will quickly escalate out of control when someone simply feels they aren’t getting heard.
- Keep emotions at bay when communicating with others. Getting hysterical, angry, or defensive only worsens the situation. Take time to communicate your needs calmly and then be sure to listen to the other person’s side of the story. Sitting down and discussing the issue calmly will more good for the situation than overreacting.
- Examine expectations to see if they were unrealistic in the first place. This is the most common reason one’s expectations were unmet in the first place. Try to see your behavior and needs from the other person’s point of view to get a clearer picture of how reasonable or unreasonable they are in relation to the situation in general.
Photo Credit Jonathon Combe via Foter