I was speaking to my therapist about conflict resolution today. I have a hard time expressing myself when I have a contrarian opinion with people who are close to me. My biggest fear about sharing my true feelings with my friends when I have a wildly differing opinion is that I will be ostracised. That they will stop liking me or have a lower opinion of me.
My therapist said something really interesting. She told me that the usual vein of thinking is that whenever there’s conflict, we think that everything is downhill from there. That’s actually not true. Conflict is just another point of discussion. While yes, there’s always a possibility that it may all go downhill, that’s just one of the possibilities. There are other options/possibilities too.
To practice the process of conflict resolution, we did a couple of role plays where I expressed myself as authentically as possible. She advised me to not only share my disagreements but also to share my agreements during the conversation because that would provide a more genuine picture of the totality of what I’m feeling. The important thing is that my authenticity shines through.
She told me that this is an opportunity to break my cycle of feeling like I can’t speak my mind for the fear of losing relationships. This is an opportunity to reduce defensiveness. To know that holding space for each other to have disagreements is an important aspect of a healthy relationship.
She also asked me to give myself some time to rest and have downtime. ‘Watch Gilmore Girls’, she said. 😉