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Conflict Resolution Intro – Changing Them Starts With Changing Us

Nothing hurts worse than arguments with or between the people we love the most.  It doesn’t matter if it’s with a lover, best friend, parent, or child, words said in anger cut deeper than anything.  Sometimes tears themselves can be a insult to the depth of this pain, and before long we’re so caught up in hurt, anger, and drama that we have no idea how to stop the madness.  Underneath our growing frustration, rage, confusion, and pain, we’re terrified.  These are the people who mean more to us than anything in the world.  How can I stop them?  What would other people think if they knew how ugly this gets sometimes?  What if it doesn’t stop…or gets worse?  What if I lose the person I love and end up…alone?!

Isn’t this why we try to avoid conflict?  Maybe if I don’t say anything, we won’t have another blowup.  That’s it.  I’ll be the peacekeeper and just bite my tongue about how I feel.  If I don’t set them off, it’ll stop.  If anybody else around here wants to start fighting, I’ll just stay quiet so it doesn’t get worse, and when it’s over, I’ll be the sounding board for them and make sure they know I love them.  Anything to keep from fueling things!  After a while, we realize things aren’t getting any better.  It’s like responding to a serious injury by draping a tissue over it;  all wounds, physical and emotional, only get worse until they are properly treated.

I dated this guy for several years on and off again throughout my early 20s.  What had begun as a fun relationship was deteriorating with too many arguments and round-the-clock partying.  One day after an ugly argument about how beer was not a breakfast food (trust me, it wasn’t funny), a coworker noticed I was upset and pulled me aside.  She invited me to join her after work, assuring me it would help.  When asked later to introduce myself to the small group and tell them about my relationship, I replied, “I’m Sheryl and I’m here to figure out how to make my boyfriend stop…”

Surprisingly interrupted by empathetic laughter, I sensed I was in the right place and that I wasn’t alone.  The first news wasn’t so hopeful:  the only ones we can change are ourselves.  I wasn’t the one with the temper or a drinking problem!  Nonetheless, the next thing I heard began the steady, healing transformation of my life:  when WE change, EVERYTHING changes!

Imagine a couple dancing on the floor and one stops.  Can the other dance?  What happens next?  They sit a while?  They leave?  How long before…they TALK?  Questions begin.  What happened?  Why did you stop?  What’s the matter?

If any of your personal relationships are in turmoil right now, try something.  The next time conflict arises, or you avoid it, try watching yourself as a fascinated stranger might from nearby.  Observe yourself in the situation and then take a behind-the-scenes look at your own private thoughts and feelings.  Just watch without judgment.  What do you want to say but choose not to?  What do say but wish you didn’t?  When that scene passes, go someplace quiet and privately write about what you saw and felt.

In the weeks ahead, I will post blogs and videos to share communication tips for managing conflict in an effort to help you find peace within yourself and your home.  If you are in any physical danger or someone in your home is physically abusive, please find the nearest Women’s Center or Women’s Shelter (see  My tips are not intended as counseling or a replacement for counseling.  Please consider supplementing this with peer support at 12-step meetings and/or professional counseling.

Yours in this Journey,

Sheryl Sitts

Founder & CIO (Chief Inspirational Officer)

Journey of Possibilities

Sheryl’s Blog


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