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Ten Myths Dispelled About Conflict

By Rev. Gregory Toole

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The word conflict for most people gets their heart beating faster. The fight or flight impulse begins to kick in, and we get ready to run or move into defense. Each of us has our own strategies for dealing with conflict, some conscious and others unconscious, habitual patterns. Conflict and its role in our lives are not very well understood.

Here, I dispel some common myths about conflict:

  1. Myth: Conflict means something has gone

          Truth: Conflict means change is being called for. What might have worked before no longer works?

  1. Myth: Conflict is something to

          Truth: Conflict is a great opportunity for our own growth and the growth of our relationships.

  1. Myth: The answer to conflict is to figure out who is right and who is

           Truth: The answer to conflict is to understand ourselves and others better so that we can benefit the most from the situation at hand.

  1. Myth: The solution to the conflict is

          Truth: Compromise has positive aspects, but ultimately is a lose-lose model.

  1. Myth: The most important thing with conflict is to resolve it.

          Truth: The most important thing with conflict is to learn from it and to grow ourselves and the relationship as a result.

  1. Myth: The absence of conflict is the sign of a good

          Truth: Navigating conflict in a healthy way is the sign of a good relationship.

  1. Myth: Nice people don’t have

          Truth: The best of us experience conflict.

  1. Myth: It’s best to resolve conflict

          Truth: It’s best to take the time to make sure we fully understand how the conflict is calling each person to change and grow.

  1. Myth: The bigger person is the one who doesn’t engage in

          Truth: The bigger person is the one who takes responsibility for their part in the conflict.

  1. Myth: Conflict is difficult because no one wants to lose.

           Truth: Conflict is difficult when no one wants to change.

Ultimately, conflict is an opportunity to pause and reexamine our values and the values of others, and how those values are being honored or not honored. It is a chance to see where we are and where others are that is causing a disruption in the flow of our relationships. If we approach conflict with love, openness, and creativity, no one must lose, but everyone likely needs to change and grow.

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