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The Privilege of Resolving Relationship Conflict

By Dr. Margaret Paul
August 21, 2023

Are you always the one who reaches out to resolve a conflict? Do you feel resentful about this? There is another way of seeing this!

win-win conflict resolutionIn a phone session I had with Shelly and Stan, a couple who have been together for six years, they described to me a conflict they had the day before. Stan had become irritated with Shelly and She had responded to his irritation by withdrawing. This was a typical dynamic between them, and the distance would often continue for days until they finally talked about it or until the charged energy dissipated. Neither was happy with the distance, yet generally both waited for the other to reach out.

In this particular conflict, Shelly decided that she didn't want days of distance, so she went to Stan and apologized for her end of the conflict and told him that she wanted to feel close to him rather than be distant. Stan softened and they were able to quickly move through the conflict.

However, when Shelly told me about this, she complained that she was usually the one who reached out and that it "wasn't fair." She didn't like it that Stan often waited and stewed for days.

"Shelly," I asked, "How did you feel when you were able to reach out and heal the distance between you?"

"I felt good. I felt relieved."

"Stan, how did you feel waiting and pouting?" I asked.

"I felt awful."

Reframing Your Understanding of Reaching Out

"Shelly, maybe you can reframe your concept of reaching out. I believe that reaching out is a privilege. When I reach out, I move myself out of feeling like a victim and into my power. I like who I am when I reach out, and I don't like myself at all if I stew and fume and blame and wait for the other person to apologize. Even if I believe that the other person is totally at fault, waiting for them to reach out feels awful. If the other person has really behaved badly, somewhere within they are not feeling good about it, even if they are still angry with me. When I move into compassion for the wounded part of them rather than staying stuck in my own righteousness, I feel peaceful within rather than in turmoil.

"So, instead of keep score regarding who reaches out, why not jump at the opportunity to move into your own personal power by being the one to reach out? Why not be in gratitude that you have the privilege of practicing being a loving and compassionate person?"

"Wow!" responded Shelly. "I never thought of it that way! I like that! I always do feel great when I let go of blame and open my heart. Seeing this as I 'get' to be the one to reach out rather than I 'have' to be the one to reach out makes all the difference!"

How Waiting for the Other Person Makes you Feel

"How are you feeling about this Stan?" I asked.

"Well, I can see that I often feel like a victim, and it feels terrible. I get so stuck in being angry and waiting for Shelly to fix it. I waste days feeling badly. What a waste! And even when she does finally reach out or we just reconnect because time has passed, I'm still stuck with some bad feelings. I can see that I'm choosing to be a victim rather than move into my power. Somehow, I thought that I’m being powerful by being angry and waiting and I just end up feeling terrible."

We are not in power when we are angry and blaming.

We are in power when we are behaving in a way that we value. The more responsibility we take for the conflict and for the resolution, the better we feel. There is a Hawaiian Huna prayer, called Ho'oponopono, that is about taking full 100% responsibility for everything through all time:

"Divine creator, father, mother, son as one. If I, my family, relatives, and ancestors have offended you, your family, relatives and ancestors in thoughts, words, deeds, and actions from the beginning of our creation to the present, we ask your forgiveness. Let this cleanse, purify, release, cut all the negative memories, blocks, energies and vibrations and transmute these unwanted energies to pure light. And it is done."

I have found that when I take full 100% responsibility for any conflict, regardless of who started it or who I believe is at fault, I feel wonderful. If I wait for the other person, I feel terrible. Which do you want?

I invite you to heal your relationships with my 30-Day online video relationship course: Wildly, Deeply, Joyously in Love.


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Truth, love, peace and joy are all words that describe - and are synonymous with - God. To be in love, peace and joy, we need to be in truth - accepting the reality of who we really are and what we can or can't control. Today, focus on opening to learning about Truth.


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Truth, love, peace and joy are all words that describe - and are synonymous with - God. To be in love, peace and joy, we need to be in truth - accepting the reality of who we really are and what we can or can't control. Today, focus on opening to learning about Truth.



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