Written by: Cole Cown LPC
I sat blankly staring at my computer screen as my mouse cursor blinked over and over. It was as if the cursor was taunting me. Writer's block had struck again.
I got up and shuffled to the Hope for Families kitchen to lament to my co-workers about struggling to come up with a new blog idea.
After a few minutes of chatting, they suggested for me to write about being stuck, as it is such a common problem for so many of us. Being stuck, along with procrastination, is a symptom of a bigger issue: conflict mismanagement.
In this context, conflict is way more than a simple argument. Rather, it can be thought of anything that disturbs one´s comfort. There is contention between what's going on externally compared to what's going on internally.
Mismanaging conflict can show up in every arena of life, from relationships to careers to personal health. As I was struggling to write my blog, I was experiencing a conflict between what I needed to do externally (write the blog) versus what I wanted to do internally (watch Westworld, eat some pizza, read a book, etc, etc.).
People typically handle conflict in one of three ways. We can use any one of these three, depending on the circumstances. However, we tend to use one method more than the others.
See which one you believe shows up the most in your life and check out the quick suggestion on how to reframe it psychologically.
1. Hostile Tendency
You tackle the conflict head-on, 900 miles an hour. Adjectives describing this approach may include active, aggressive, direct, or persuasive. This style can get quick results however it can also leave a hurricane-size trail of resentment and bitterness in its´ wake.
In relationship conflicts, it can fuel passiveness and apathy in opposite person.
Quick tip:Tap into whatever Zen-like mindset you have for a moment and consider this: maybe the solution isn't always ready to be found. To use a metaphor of Campbell´s, sometimes we have different areas of life that are growing at different rates, similar to a farmer's field of crops.
Sometimes the corn is ready for harvest, but the okra hasn't even begun to show signs of growing. Sometimes we can get so focused on one area of life that needs growing that we miss all the progress that is occurring in other areas and, thus, miss out on satisfaction and peace.
2. Conflict Avoidant Tendency
Very often, the person engaged in this tendency appears content on the exterior, but they are dealing with tension internally. Adjectives describing this type are chill, sleepy, go-with-the-flow, and easy.
We can vary in how well we can hide and push down that tension as some people don't even appear to be tense at all!
The tension is managed through procrastination, apathy, or being agreeable. However, the pressure can build and build until a breakdown happens. A small example of this was me struggling to write the blog as I had procrastinated and over-thought the process until it was crunch time.
Sometimes a little pressure is good for performance, but consistently doing this over and over can lead to a problem of self-forgetting. Self-forgetting or ¨sloth¨ is when you forgot your way in life. You go from conflict to conflict, putting out the fires, but along the way you forgot who you are and what really matters to you.
A simple routine of remembrance is a great way to avoid ¨sloth monsters¨.
The routine should start small and preferably early in the day. The goal is to make movement towards your values and goals. It can be a simple as taking time to meditate, work-out, or making a nice breakfast for yourself. The routine should help you have a consistent start to the day and help you remember you matter, which is the first step to taking on conflicts in a healthier manner.
The last tendency is the goal we´re all working towards: true assertiveness. My next post will dive into this topic in more detail. Please let us know if you have further questions about finding ways to lower hostility or conflict avoidance.
Keep it real, people.