Conflict: Why Do You Argue, Why Do You Fight in Conflict?By Dr. Margaret Paul
January 05, 2009
If you often argue and fight when you have a conflict, this article can help you become aware of why and what you can do about it.
Think about the last time you had a conflict with someone and you argued - with your partner, your friend, your parent, your child or someone else in your life.
What did you argue about, and why did you spend your energy arguing or fighting?
Reasons for Arguing and Fighting
Here are some of the reasons you might argue and fight in conflict situations:
- You believe that you can get the other person to see things your way - that if you say the right thing, be very convincing, be very logical and rational, be right, be parental, talk very loudly, yell, threaten, blame, attack, call names or even hit - you can have control over getting the other person to think, feel, and behave the way you want. You believe that not only can you win, but you can somehow have control over the other's thoughts and feelings.
The problem is that, while you might be able to get control over another's behavior, you cannot control their thoughts and feelings. No matter how right you are, another’s thoughts and feelings are not yours to control.
- Dumping anger on another person may be a way of not dealing with your own feelings. Perhaps you are projecting your own self-abandonment onto the other person, i.e. you are not listening to or hearing yourself, so you attack the other person for not listening to you or hearing you. Or you are judging yourself, so you attack the other person for judging you. If you are judging yourself or not listening to yourself and not taking responsibility for your own feelings, then you may be blaming the other person for the guilt, shame and aloneness you feel within.
- Perhaps you are terrified that if you are open with the other person, especially your partner, your partner will see things about you that he or she doesn't like. You might be using fighting as a way to avoid true intimacy, while at the same time creating a connection through the fighting. The connection you feel through fighting might feel safer to you than creating true intimacy.
- Perhaps you are afraid that if you get really close to someone, you will lose yourself or be taken advantage of. If this is the case, fighting might be a way to feel safe from engulfment. Once again, you can feel some connection through the fighting without actually having to feel close enough to lose yourself to the other person.
- Perhaps arguing and fighting is the only way you know to assuage your fears of rejection. Fighting might give you a sense of control over not losing the other person.
- Perhaps you feel frustrated and helpless in a job situation, or a situation with someone else, and fighting with the person you are fighting with is a way to release the frustration and gain back a feeling of control.
Anger and arguing can be an addictive way of avoiding your feelings of aloneness, loneliness, grief or heartache. All addictive behavior covers up painful feelings, and anger and arguing are no exceptions.
The Way Out of Arguing
Until you want responsibility for your own feelings - your feelings of anger, frustration, guilt, shame, anxiety, depression, fear, hurt, loneliness, aloneness, heartbreak, helplessness over others and outcomes, and so on - you may continue to use arguing and fighting as ways to avoid this responsibility. Until you are ready to lovingly attend to your own feelings with a deep and compassionate desire to learn about your own thoughts, beliefs and behavior that create many of your feelings, and are willing to take loving action for yourself in the face of another's unloving behavior, you may be stuck trying to control others into making you feel better. And until you fully accept your lack of control over others’ thoughts and feelings, you might continue to attempt to have control through arguing and fighting.
You will find that you stop arguing and fighting when you learn to take responsibility for all your own feelings through the practice of Inner Bonding.
Heal your relationship with Dr. Margaret’s 30-Day online video relationship course: Wildly, Deeply, Joyously in Love.
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The paradox of our wounded self is that it wants to feel safe so it tries in so many ways to control that which it cannot control, which leads to feeling anxious and unsafe. Surrendering to what is and opening to spiritual guidance creates the peace that will never come from trying to control.
By Dr. Margaret Paul