It’s normal for friends to experience conflict, disagreements, and maybe even fight sometimes. You can’t always agree on everything and sometimes this may result in behaviors that are unintentionally hurtful towards friends you care for deeply. Most times conflict with a friend or within your friend group is easily resolved and you can move forward without any major consequences to the friendship. But in some cases, the disagreement is not easily resolved and the conflict grows leading to resentment, anger, sadness, and other negative feelings, perhaps even the end of a friendship. If you find it hard to weather arguments with friends, you might want to take a closer look at how you can better handle conflict and improve your conflict resolution skills.
Learning to handle conflict with friends in a healthy way not only makes things better for you but it also communicates to your friend that you care for them and want you both to be happy. It can also create stronger friendships that can last a lifetime.
Change How You React to Conflict
Many of our reactions to conflicts with friends come from immediately latching onto initial thoughts and feelings that appear in the mind. You might feel angry and react without thinking, lashing out and making the conflict worse. You may even believe that your friends don’t care about you when in fact they do. Assumptions and emotional reasoning are easily made when negative emotions run high. However, by taking a step back and trying to be compassionate towards your friends and yourself, you can put yourself in a position to deal with conflict in a more productive way.
Mindfulness is one way to accomplish how you react to conflict. It allows you to notice your thoughts and accept your emotions, while also giving yourself time to process them and work towards either letting them pass or how to skillfully respond. Rather than reacting to conflict with emotion, consider how you want to resolve it from a wise mind-where emotion is informed by fact. Be willing to listen to your friend and understand their position. Conflict with friends can often escalate when people only see their side of the story, get stuck on insignificant details, or need to be “right.” Mindfulness gives you the necessary mind space to ask yourself whether you need to address the problem when you are feeling more calm or if you simply need to observe how you are feeling and to let it go.
Be Careful of Toxic Friendships
Although it’s generally a good idea to try and work through conflicts with friends, it may not always be in your best interest if the relationship causes more harm than good. If you are noticing unhealthy patterns within a friendship that is based more on conflict or you seem to be the one always apologizing or trying to find a solution, you may need to re-evaluate if it is a friendship worth keeping. It’s important to surround yourself with people who make a positive contribution to your life, and whose lives you can make better too. Toxic friendships are not worth keeping when there are people who can be a positive force in your life.