How to Deal with Conflict in Your Family

How to Deal with Conflict in Your Family

Conflict is often difficult to handle, but it can be even more so with family. Familial conflict often runs deep and feelings around the conflict can be complicated. Conflict with people you love, or you feel that you are supposed to love, is often different from having a disagreement with a coworker or even an acquaintance or friend. The emotions involved can be more intense and any hurt that’s experienced can be significant and lasting.

Family conflicts can arise for many reasons and at different times. They can often surround big life events, such as weddings and other family gatherings when everyone is getting together. Whether you are directly involved in the conflict or not, you can often feel forced to take sides. With feelings of anger, resentment, guilt, disappointment, and others flying around, there can be so much focus on who is right and who is wrong, that no one stops to try and find a resolution to the conflict. Additionally, the same conflicts can come up again and again in a family when very little to nothing is done to address the issues.

Resolve Family Conflict in a Positive Way

Conflict in your family is distressing and can affect both your mental health and theirs. Learning how to manage conflict in a more positive, healthy, and proactive way makes it easier to deal with and can prevent feelings of anxiety and depression from developing as a result. Some of the things that you can do to skillfully approach family conflict is to look for a number of ways to resolve the problem, break patterns and address your emotions in an effective way.

Mindful conflict resolution is one option for changing how you deal with conflict with your family members. Mindfulness focuses on the present moment, encouraging you to acknowledge and accept your feelings without reacting to them right away. It involves holding back judgment, both for yourself and others, and allowing things to take place without trying to control the situation. This can help you to be more open to other people and their perspectives, listen better, and brainstorm any possible solutions.

Make Conscious Choices

Using mindfulness during times of conflict can help you to change the direction of a disagreement or argument. When there is a conflict, you can recognize that you have a choice at various points. You can choose to take a breath and spend some time acknowledging and accepting your feelings, as well as the feelings of others, before you react. You can always choose to take responsibility for how you are feeling and decide how to communicate that to a family member without making them feel defensive.  For example, if someone says something that is irritating, it is easy to lash out at them and believe that they deserved it. But you could also choose to acknowledge that whatever the person did, they may or may not intend to irritate you and the feeling itself is yours. You can respond in a different and calmer way by saying, “I feel irritated when you…and I would like for us to figure out a way to change this situation so I don’t continue to feel this way.”

Taking a mindful and wise mind approach to dealing with family conflict decreases the likelihood of the same issues from arising over and over. Working together to find solutions also increases the likelihood of experiencing more peaceful and meaningful family relationships. 

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