As I have been talking about, your early experiences shaped your experience and views of conflict. Remember you were little and your parents were big. Maybe there was yelling, hurt and anger. Maybe even abusive behavior. So here are three common reasons you may struggle to approach conflict in healthy ways.
- You felt the fear and swallowed it usually. Rarely if ever do parents recognize just how scary and awful it is for kids when they are fighting. And of course, you may have created avoidant tendencies to cope with it, such as “I want to stay as far away from THAT as I can!” Yet not working through those feelings of fear and powerlessness left a mark.
- If you witnessed unhealthy conflict and/or abusive behavior. The worst case is if you were on the receiving end of that stuff of course. It will take you longer and lots of good therapeutic work to not be devastated by the triggers of someone upset with you. But even witnessing such things can damage kids. They learn only how to deal with conflict in unhealthy ways when they’re angry such as name calling, threatening to hurt someone or leave, or defensiveness and manipulation. Each one just mentioned is emotionally immature and deemed abusive in their own way. And don’t tell anyone, but using these tactics almost NEVER resolves the conflict because they are the antithesis of vulnerability and solution focusing.
- You didn’t observe any conflict resolution growing up. Because they couldn’t talk about it! Oh it WAS mentioned, just usually via snark and passive-aggressive ways but not dealt with directly with emotional honesty. You learned to sweep issues under the rug, internalize them perhaps which can develop into anxiety, depression and a host of physical illnesses. Relationships became really unsafe. And then of course you put others in your life later who also struggle with conflict…and on it goes.
So, as you can see, there are good reasons you may hate conflict. I don’t think any one of us (loves) it, but if you have deep anxiety and avoidance of it, it means you need some healing around it. And as you become more assertive, conflict will become more manageable and healthy.