There is nothing so complicated as relationships. And how could they not be? We are all so different, with varying degrees of likes and dislikes, passions, skills, abilities, needs, and opinions. We have different chemistries, biologies, experiences. Even words mean something different to each person. Interactions are complicated. How could there not be conflict? Because we are biological beings, the first things that happen in conflict are physical changes. Fight or flight. Thinking stops. Walls go up around our hearts. We are unable to see past our own pain (and needs and wants). The irony of this is, the person we are in conflict with is likely experiencing the exact same thing. “What people find most signify about conflict is not that it frustrates their satisfaction of some right, interest, or pursuit, no matter how important, but that it leads and even forces them to behave toward themselves and others in ways that they find uncomfortable and even repellent. More specifically, it alienates them from their sense of their own strength and their sense of connection to others, thereby disrupting and undermining their interaction between them as human beings (Bush & Folger, 2004).” We feel weak and self-absorbed.
It is for all of this, because we are all suffering during these experiences, that the best response possible is kindness toward others. We can strive to act with compassionate strength; staying true to ourselves, our values, our beliefs, while trying to be open and curious in understanding those who differ from us. The struggle to act with strength and connection in the face of differences with others is a life-long opportunity for moral growth. It supports our effort not to act out of our less human traits of weakness and self-centeredness. Find the connection and you will be able to find solutions.