You know what needs to be said and done... but it is neither said nor done. You are in the 'conflict avoidance' zone.
Nobody wants to fight with their kids or spouse. A little peace and quiet seems like a good thing, a desirable state of affairs. Who doesn't want a hassle-free morning, an argument-free vacation, a quiet dinner, or a compliant child? We all do; however, avoiding our inner wisdom and going for harmony often leads to bigger conflicts and problems later on. Gratification in the short term can derail our long-term vision and results. Let's get to the heart of the matter, so we can change it.
This phenomenon of avoiding conflict is definitely in my top five list of what not to do. I see it as a volunteer, as a coach, in the business world, and in my own life. I am no stranger to conflict avoidance. As a child, I got the message not to share my (differing) opinions and my feelings. Of course, I took this message into adulthood, marriage and parenting. It did not serve me well, and it takes a conscious effort to overcome it, and speak my mind in ways that can be heard.
We are master problem-solvers. Like all good problem-solvers, though, we must first identify the obstacles that hold us back. Why do more people than not avoid conflict? Why do you do what has the potential to backfire on you, your children and your relationships?
As always, fear is the biggest motivator. More specifically, it's fear of speaking the truth as you understand it. What are the outcomes you're trying to avoid?
* being rejected
* feeling unloved or unwanted
* making a mistake or being wrong (in other words, not being perfect)
* not getting your way
* others being angry at you
* your children saying they hate you and giving you the silent treatment
* jeopardizing a friendship
* having to act on that truth, and feeling unable to follow through
That's just a sampling. Hopefully, it will start you thinking about why you spend time in the 'conflict avoidance zone.' Once you figure it out, here are some tips for stepping out and living in a more honest way.
1) STOP. You know when you're going there. You can feel it in your breathing or in the flutter or tightness that settles somewhere in your body. When you become aware of it, stop what you're doing, stop what you're saying. Remember to breathe.
2) LISTEN to yourself, to the inner voice of wisdom that is bubbling up to be heard. It knows what needs to be done.
3) UNDERSTAND the real message. It's the voice of truth, not of avoidance and conciliation. The truth may be difficult to say and to hear, but ultimately it does set you free. It will clear the way for understanding, connection, and the next right step. When you avoid it, you create separation…which is the opposite of what you want, to feel connected.
4) SHARE your truth. If you continue to run from it, it will smother you and your relationships. The key is in how you express it. There are ways to say what you mean with love, respect and integrity, and without judgment and anger.
Reflection/Action: 1) What is an issue that you shy away from discussing, and what is the fear? 2) How does avoiding this issue affect you and your family later on? 3) What are your children learning about how to resolve differences when you react this way? 4) Consider discussing the issue of ‘conflict avoidance’ with family members. 5) Script out what you’d like to say so you can remain calm and stay on topic.
Fern Weis is a certified life coach who learned that caring and good intentions are not enough in parenting. In fact, they are often the problem! Fern supports parents of teens and young adults who are going through difficult situations, including addiction recovery. She helps parents release guilt, end enabling and confidently prepare their children to thrive through life's challenges. Her articles are featured in Thrive Global, Medium, Motherly, The Teen Mentor, and Bergen County Moms. Learn more about coaching and classes at www.fernweis.com. And then download your free guide, "Five Powerful Steps to Get Your Teen to Talk." For information on Family Recovery programs, visit www.familyrecoverypartners.com