Jebediah Sawyer

How to Have Difficult Conversations When You Don’t Like Conflict by Joel Garfinkle

 

Be direct. Address uncomfortable situations head-on by getting right to the point. Have a frank, respectful discussion where both parties speak frankly about the details of an issue. Talking with people honestly and with respect creates mutually rewarding relationships, even when conversations are difficult.

There are situations, however, where cultural or personality differences should be considered. If your culture is conflict avoidant or doesn’t value directness, you can still engage in challenging conversations. In these cases, shift your approach from overly direct to a respectful, affirming back-and-forth conversation. For instance, if the person you are talking with seems to not be picking up on what you are saying, ask them to repeat their understanding of what you’ve shared. As they reflect back what they’ve heard, you can adjust your message to make sure the conflict is moving toward resolution. This communication style is open and less threatening. 

Don’t put it off. How often is your response to conflict something like, “I don’t want to talk about it” or “It’s not that big a deal” or “It’s not worth arguing about”? If you’re always promising yourself that you’ll “bring it up next time it happens,” well, now’s the time. Instead of putting off a conversation for some ideal future time, when it can be more easily dealt with, tackle it right away. Get your cards on the table so you can resolve the issue and move on.

It might seem risky to come right out and say something, but often that’s just what is needed. Give yourself or your counterpart a little bit of time to cool down, if necessary, and plan the general outline of what you want to convey and the outcome you desire. But then have the conversation, and make a plan to move on. After all the mental gymnastics of endlessly practicing conversations in your head, actually engaging in a two-way conversation can be inspiring, respectful, and productive.

Expect a positive outcome. You’ll struggle to follow this advice if you continue to go into a conflict telling yourself, “This is going to be a disaster.” Instead, tell yourself, “This will result in an improved relationship.”

Focus on the long-term gains that the conversation will create for the relationship. When your attention is focused on positive outcomes and benefits, it will shift your thinking process and inner dialogue to a more constructive place. As a result, you will grow more comfortable approaching the coworker who constantly criticizes and complains, or the subordinate who keeps underperforming.

Don’t ignore the tough situations you are aware of today. When the opportunity presents itself to provide unsolicited negative feedback to a difficult colleague or give a less-than-positive performance evaluation, summon the courage to address the conflict head-on.

A TED Talk we recommend – 3 ways to build a happy marriage and avoid divorce.

Choosing to marry and share your life with someone is one of the most important decisions you can make in life. But with divorce rates approaching fifty percent in some parts of the world, it’s clear we could use some help picking a partner. In an actionable, eye-opening talk, psychiatrist George Blair-West shares three keys to preventing divorce — and spotting potential problems while you’re still dating.

Grief and the Holidays, Dealing with the Pain by David Kessler

Grief & The Holidays, Dealing with the Pain – by David Kessler

“Holidays are time spent with loved ones” was imprinted on our psyche from a young age. Holidays mark the passage of time in our lives. They are part of the milestones we share with each other and they generally represent time spent with family. They bring meaning to certain days and we bring much meaning back to them. But since holidays are for being with those we love the most, how on earth can anyone be expected to cope with them when a loved one has died? For many people, this is the hardest part of grieving, when we miss our loved ones even more than usual. Holidays only magnify the loss. The sadness feels sadder and the loneliness goes deeper. The need for support may be the greatest during the holidays. Pretending you don’t hurt and or it is not a harder time of the year is just not the truth for you. You can and will get through the holidays. Rather than avoiding the feelings of grief, lean into them. It is not the grief you want to avoid, it is the pain. Grief is the way out of the pain. There are a number of ways to incorporate your loved one and your loss into the holidays.

Ways to externalize the loss – give it a time and a place

  • A prayer before the Holiday dinner, about your loved one.
  • Light a candle for your loved one.
  • Create an online tribute for them.
  • Share a favorite story about your loved one.
  • Have everyone tell a funny story about your loved one.
  • At your place of worship remember them in a prayer.

Ways to Cope

Have a Plan A/Plan B – Plan A is you go to the Thanksgiving, Christmas Day or Christmas Eve dinner with family and friends. If it doesn’t feel right, have your plan B ready. Plan B may be a movie you both liked or a photo album to look through or a special place you went to together. Many people find that when they have Plan B in place, just knowing it is there is enough.

Cancel the Holiday all together. Yes, you can cancel the Holiday. If you are going through the motions and feeling nothing, cancel them. Take a year off. They will come around again. For others, staying involved with the Holidays is a symbol of life continuing. Let the Holiday routine give you a framework during these tough times.

Try the Holidays in a new way. Grief has a unique way of giving us the permission to really evaluate what parts of the Holidays you enjoy and what parts you don’t. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to handle the Holiday

s in grief. You have to decide what is right for you and do it. You have every right to change your mind, even a few times. Friends and family members may not have a clue how to help you through the Holidays and you may not either.

It is very natural to feel you may never enjoy the Holidays again. They will certainly never be the same as they were. However, in time, most people are able to find meaning again in the traditions as a new form of the Holiday Spirit grows inside of them. Even without grief, our friends and relatives often think they know how our Holidays should look, what “the family” should and shouldn’t do.

Do’s and Don’ts

  • Do be gentle with yourself and protect yourself.
  • Don’t do more than you want, and don’t do anything that does not serve your soul and your loss.
  • Do allow time for the feelings.
  • Don’t keep feelings bottled up. If you have 500 tears to cry don’t stop at 250.
  • Do allow others to help. We all need help at certain times in our lives.
  • Don’t ask if you can help or should help a friend in grief. Just help. Find ways; invite them to group events or just out for coffee.
  • Do, in grief, pay extra attention to the children. Children are too often the forgotten grievers.

Just Remember

Holidays are clearly some of the roughest terrain we navigate after a loss. The ways we handle them are as individual as we are. What is vitally important is that we be present for the loss in whatever form the holidays do or don’t take. These holidays are part of the journey to be felt fully. They are usually very sad, but sometimes we may catch ourselves doing okay, and we may even have a brief moment of laughter. You don’t have to be a victim of the pain or the past. When the past calls, let it go to voice mail…it has nothing to say. You don’t have to be haunted by the pain or the past. You can remember and honor the love. Whatever you experience, just remember that sadness is allowed because death, as they say, doesn’t take a holiday.

Even without grief, our friends and relatives often think they know how our holidays should look, what the family should and shouldn’t do. Now more than ever, be gentle with yourself. Don’t do more than you want, and don’t do anything that does not serve your soul and your loss.

For more resources on grief and grieving, visit https://grief.com/.

 

Are You Emotionally Abusive? By Steven Stosnsy, Ph.D.

Are you emotionally abusive? It can happen to anyone.

It can happen to anyone. That’s right; anyone can become emotionally abusive in an intimate relationship. The path to emotional abuse begins at the point where resentment starts to outweigh compassion.

Resentment is a predominant emotional state in our age of entitlement. Because we perceive ourselves to have more of a right to feel good than previous generations, it follows that those around us have an obligation to make us feel good.

Resentment is a misguided attempt to transfer pain to someone else, specifically the shame of failure to feel good, i.e., to create more value, meaning, and purpose in our lives. Blaming this core failure on someone else justifies a sense of self-righteousness, along with low-grade anger, which temporarily feel more powerful. But the temporary empowerment comes at the cost of making an enemy of the beloved.

One problem with resentment is that it builds under the radar – by the time you’re aware that you’re resentful it has reached an advanced stage. You don’t realize how much it has taken over your life until, through therapy or some life-changing event, you become more compassionate and look back on the years you have wasted being resentful. Eventually, with deep regret, you realize the pain you have suffered and the harm you have inflicted due to resentment.

Because resentment makes you feel like a victim – it feels like someone else is controlling your thoughts, feelings, and behavior – it comes with a built-in retaliation impulse. If you’re resentful, you are probably in some way emotionally abusive to the people you love. You have devalued, demeaned, sought to control or manipulate and deliberately hurt the feelings of loved ones. But you’ve been so focused on what you don’t like about their behavior that you haven’t noticed what you don’t like about your own. You probably have not grasped that resentment has made you into someone you are not.

Here’s how to tell if you are an emotionally abusive man or woman.

Man:

  • Does it feel like your wife or girlfriend pushes your buttons?
  • Does she have a way of putting you in a bad mood?
  • Are there times when you don’t want to speak to her or be around her?
  • Do you feel like you overlook a lot or swallow a lot, until you can’t stand it anymore?
  • Does she frequently “do things the wrong way?”
  • Can you be having a nice time and then out of nowhere she says or does something to set you off?
  • Are you sometimes on edge about having a bad or unpleasant evening?
  • Does it feel like you have to criticize her for not being more efficient, reliable, or a better person?
  • Does it feel like she makes you yell or shut down when you really don’t want to raise your voice or be in a bad mood at all?
  • Do you treat her in ways you couldn’t have imagined when you first started loving her?

If you answered yes to any of the above, here are some things that your wife or girlfriend probably says about you:

  • He’s so moody.
  • He doesn’t see or hear me.
  • I feel like I’m his possession.
  • I can’t be myself; I have to think, feel, and behave the way he wants.
  • Nothing I do is good enough.
  • I feel like I’m walking on eggshells.

Woman:

  • Do you sometimes make your man feel like a failure as a provider, partner, parent, or lover?
  • Do you feel like you have to tell him the same thing over and over and over?
  • Does he tell you that you sometimes yell and scream or lash out at him?
  • Do your girlfriends ever remark that you might treat him badly?
  • Do you automatically blame him when things go wrong?
  • Do you resort to name-calling, swearing at him, or putting him down?
  • Do you demean or belittle him in front of other people or your children?
  • Do you threaten to take his children away so he will never see them?
  • Are you often jealous and want to know where he is at all times?
  • Would your family and friends be surprised to know how you treat him behind closed doors?

If you answered yes to any of the above, here are some things that your husband or boyfriend probably says about you:

  • She’s a nag.
  • She’s so moody.
  • She’s so unpleasant to be around.
  • I just want her to leave me alone. 
  • Nothing I do is good enough.
  • I feel like I’m walking on eggshells.

In addition to the above, you can take this useful emotional abuse quiz.

The Way Out: Self-Compassion
Self-compassion begins with greater sensitivity to the resentment that causes emotional abuse. It is sympathy for the perceived hurt or loss of self-value that causes resentment. Most important, it includes motivation to heal and improve.

Since the experience of resentment rarely improves anything and never heals the hurt that caused it, most resentment – and all acts of abuse – are failures of self-compassion.