One thing I avoid more than this virus? Conflict.
In my last newsletter, I talked about how I’m going to write a bit about conflict because it’s the one place I can stand to improve upon, and hopefully improve the world a little bit more. Especially when it comes to speaking out against any injustice I see happening.
So let me tell you a little bit about what conflict means to me and how I’ve always approached it.
Maybe it’s my INFJ, HSP personality, but I’ll literally do whatever it takes to keep the peace. In fact, I hate conflict so much that I tend to apologize even when I know I’m right just so it goes away. Sheesh, what a terrible lesson to teach my kid!
But I’ve recently become more aware of the fact that it doesn’t go away.
The conflict continues deep within me.
My internal dialogue gets so revved up that I can’t stop overthinking the situation. I replay the discussion over and over and over in my head, with logical and reasonable comebacks. I end up hating myself for not having the courage to say those things at the right time.
It’s been like this my whole life.
I’ve NEVER had an argument with a friend. Sure, I’ve put friends on my shit list for a few weeks until I processed a situation, but they were never aware of that. For as long as I know, I’ve avoided every possible conflict, at my own expense.
The only exception is the family and partners. Those poor people have seen the worst of me! But with anyone else, especially strangers, I back off the moment I feel the tension in the air. But recently, I’ve come across this quote that hit me straight in the face:
“If you avoid conflict to keep the peace, you start a war inside yourself.”
And I was like, WHOA. Why didn’t I see this sooner?! I thought I was the queen of self-awareness.
I don’t have to go far in my recent history to acknowledge that this is exactly what’s been happening.
Case in point.
Last Saturday, I was at my son’s sports class sitting on the sideline because only one parent is allowed to participate due to social distancing rules. No problem. I’m 38 weeks pregnant anyway, so the last thing I want to do is hop and skip in a circle.
Here I was enjoying myself, watching my 3-year-old do the exact opposite of whatever the instructor said he should do when I decided to film him. I’ve been taking short videos of him in every class so I didn’t think twice about it.
Except for this time, the teacher came by and asked me to stop taking videos. Because some parents are uncomfortable with it.
Uh oh, CONFLICT.
I immediately froze as my fear of authority took over (even though the teacher was 15 years younger than me), and I said “oh of course, sorry about that!“.
As she walked away, I felt the rage bubble up.
WHO is this parent that’s complaining? And what RIGHT do they have over MY right to tape MY son? After all, it’s a public space (park), and just like any other public space, we run the risk of being in other people’s videos and pictures. Don’t go outside if you don’t want that! Ugh, I was cursing so much under my breath.
What angered me the most was the fact that I complied with someone else’s wishes (over mine) in order to not cause a commotion. Even though technically I was within my own rights. Here I was, AGAIN, bending down, saying sorry, just to keep the peace.
So now, after talking it over with myself for a whole day (and my husband backing me up of course), I’m going to continue making videos of my son and if I’m being approached again, I’m going to say exactly what I think.
This is one of those situations I can address properly the second time around, which is great because the war inside me will subside. Instead of being afraid that I’ll be the “annoying” or “difficult” parent, I’ll make sure they know (respectfully) that I’m within my rights.
The problem is that in most situations, we only get one shot to say what we want or what we think.
That’s when it gets more difficult because we have to override our fear of conflict, social anxiety, and authority, while at the same time be quick enough to have the proper words in place in order to not escalate the situation.
That’s the challenge.
I don’t know about you, but if I do have the courage to say something, it always comes out super aggressive and mean. It makes the whole situation even more uncomfortable.
For us, the challenge isn’t necessarily to stand our ground but to do so with the right tone, words, and stance in place. As introverts, we tend to take our time to formulate our thoughts. And in such cases, there’s not enough time to do so!
So what CAN we do to face conflict the proper way, instead of saying sorry and letting it simmer inside?
Let’s talk about that in the next newsletter!
(Any recent experiences with conflict where you backed away even though you shouldn’t have?)