WAR: When Conflict Is Not Normal

Plot twist: WE ALL experience conflict!!!

Some with ourselves and some with others. We may have conflict with our CHILDREN, our SIBLINGS, our COWORKERS, our NEIGHBORS, our PARTNERS, ACQUAINTANCES, FRIENDS, FAMILY.  Even COMPLETE STRANGERS!
By definition, conflict is a ‘serious’ disagreement or argument; incompatibility.  This can be over beliefs, wishes, thoughts, needs, interests or ideas.
The state of WAR is conflict.
The state of decision making is conflict.
The state of being triggered is conflict.
When someone’s actions, methods, words, tones and behaviors upset you, there exists CONFLICT.
The PROBLEM with conflict is that it exists ONLY in ONE entity, until it is brought to the surface through some type of confrontation.
Confrontation is any argumentative or hostile meeting between two opposing entities. It is the STRATEGIZING of a BATTLE, sometimes in AMBUSH and against a completely unknowing or innocent party.
More often than not, we as humans mistake normal conflict with confrontation.
Have you ever witnessed a person absolutely LOSE THEIR SHIT over something another person did, a BLITZ of negative emotions, only to find out it WASN’T the other person who ‘did it’ or that the other group had no knowing or made a simple and non-terminal mistake?
This is the type of conflict I wish to highlight today.
Don’t get me wrong, when an individual KNOWINGLY, MALICIOUSLY and INTENTIONALLY BREAKS THE LAWS OF ENGAGEMEN, also know as the rules, I do bringing their caustic behavior to the surface is NECESSARY. However, the methods chosen must be thought through because the potential for collateral damage so common in battle is GREAT.
When one harshly confronts another, enforcing rules or laws that aren’t theirs to enforce or striking the gavel for punishment when no crime exists, we create a tsunami of negativity.
In most conflict, there are two appropriate  methods of dealing: communication, the best way to handle conflict, and silence.
Within communication, there are also two methods, one being aggressive, blaming and accusing while the other is genuinely the desire to DISCUSS that which is conflicted in pure interest of understanding:
Why it was conflicting for BOTH parties
The INTENTION of the act
How to fix it if necessary
The agreement to compromise (shake, kiss, hug, whatever it takes).
Unfortunately, this route of communication is often NOT taken upon first sign of conflict and even so, most of those who aggress a conflictual situation (ie…the self-righteous one) are often quick to judge, blame and extrapolate based on THEIR narrow perspective.
From here, you often see either a full out WAR (physical altercations, continuous screaming, slamming, aggression, hateful words, telling others to just shut up) or COMPLETE RETREAT!
When we retreat into silence, there are also two commons strems
of silence we tend to follow: time out type silence and stonewalling silence. Although silence MAY BE NECESSARY to regroup and calm down, it is more often used by the aggressor as a SUBCONSCIOUS means of punishment for the other party.  The latter form is called stonewalling.
Just as a full out war is not appropriate, emotional distance and silence is NOT THE BEST WAY TO RESOLVE conflict, which is achieved through CALM and KIND dialogue, not SHARP silence used to draw a line of ‘I am right, you are wrong and unless you agree with me, I’m walking out because I have nothing to say to you’ mindsets. In fact, the use of silence as a punitive measurement towards a person you are trying to MAKE/force to hear you is the second most destructive action towards all healthy interactions and relationships, the first one being criticism of another.
Aside from an agreement to hold silence between the parties, the use of silence leaves open the door of interpretation and unfortunately, the mind often looks towards the worst possible scenario. Not to mention, punitive silence, also known as stonewalling, facilitates and breeds further destructive behaviors such as resentment, lack of intimacy, fear of being ignored or cast out again, feelings of abandonment and emotional disconnect between the parties.
There exists such compelling evidence against silence and its negative impact and collateral damage, therefore it has been the target of major studies around the world!

“A meta-analysis conducted at the University of Texas that included the results of 74 studies involving 14,000 people, concluded that silence is usually very destructive in couple relationships and people interpret it as a lack of involvement of the other and an attempt to submit him emotionally”

“…a study conducted at the University of Leuven has found that silence does not help to eradicate or forget the problems, on the contrary, strengthens them. These psychologists have found that the best way to get rid of conflicts is to talk about them.”

“Stonewalling, according to the research of Gottman and others, as well as the experience of most couples’ counselors, is far more likely to be a male thing.”

Those who specialize in relationship growth, health and longevity agree that when the stonewalling method of silence is used to punish another party, a perception begins to take place that the stonewaller is becoming more and more emotionally distant, or disconnected from them. No matter how much they try to get the stonewalling party use healthy discussion as a means of conflict resolution, the efforts prove futile and they are left sleeping in isolation, walked out on, standing in silence time and time again. Sometimes, these bouts of silence last for several hours and sometimes, they last an entire day or even more!

Another issue with punitive silence is that those who suffer the silence feel increasingly frustrated by the lack of response and involvement of the other, so the relationship will become more and more tense and there will be more conflicts.

The one being stonewalled begins to feel confused, frustrated, and even guilty. It is also likely that they will feel alone and misunderstood. Obviously, these feelings do not contribute to improving relationships and resolve conflicts, on the contrary, create a wider gap.

To further understand STONEWALLING, one must look at some very common lead-ins present during a conversation with a stonewaller:

Just shut up

Get away from me

End of conversation

Go do whatever you want

I’m not listening to you anymore

These statements are very different than someone who is genuinely setting a boundary during a discussion where one party is yelling, over-talking and unyielding (refuses to listen, digging heels in, hard headed ways).

When a person is being yelled at by another party, the absolute BEST resolve is to speak firmly and say ‘I am not going to listen to you if you are screaming at me; if you want me to listen, stop yelling or I will leave the room’. If they don’t stop, walk away.

Men, or those with a lot of masculine energy, are significantly more likely to enact yelling, control and punitive silence when it comes to conflict.  They are also more likely to ambush when they are confronting. Men are often hedged by gender roles as being the ‘strong, silent man’ and this is frequently and erroneously perpetuated by others as MEN being MEN.  Enablers and the ignorant will blame one’s ‘heritage’ or bloodline, whatever excuse others will use to make it OK.

Men are also less likely to realise they are stonewalling!

 

Punitive stonewalling has two two main types: a defensive and an aggressive.

 “Aggressive vs. Defensive Stonewalls”

In aggressive stonewalling, the stonewaller knows that the silence, cold shoulder, and emotional isolation hurts his partner. He stonewalls to gain leverage or power. This is a common tactic in battering relationships, in which the more powerful partner systematically controls or dominates the less powerful one.

In defensive stonewalling, conflict seems overwhelming to the stonewallers. It seems that their only choice is to shut it out (stonewall) or crush it with aggression. So shutting it out seems the better of the two. Of course, treatment teaches them that there are other choices, such as emotion regulation, engagement, and connection”

In light of the REALITY that we all experience conflict regularly, and this is normal, I feel it important to understand for ALL humans that the only way to manage a conflict, whether inside our minds or with another person, is to speak with kindness of the tongue and a genuine desire to resolve it, known as compassion.

The closer the relationship experiencing the conflict, the greater the need of loving compassion immediately at the source of conflict.

Harsh, critical, accusing ambush style ‘gotcha’ methods are counter productive to healthy relationships. People make genuine and honest mistakes in their lives and do not deserve to be treated as if they have intentionally, maliciously or willfully brought forth conflict.

Even if we must walk away, whether permanently or temporarily, because the situation cannot be handled through appropriate communications or a healthy time-out, always remember:

“conflict that is resolved closest to its root is one more destructive weed pulled from our beautiful garden of relationships”

 

Published by NikkiAlbertVasquez

Our passion is men's, women's and couple's wellness, from being strong and independent to conquering the roadblocks that hinder valuable goals. We are here for those who are READY for CHANGE, who are WILLING to make CHANGE and who are seeking support and guidance on their journey. As a couple, we have quickly grown into a powerful team, the Viking and the Apache, helping men and women discover their own strengths, heal themselves and bring light (knowledge) into the world. It is our mission to help others reclaim their power, integrity and truth so they can heal the world!

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