I once asked a friend of mine for help. I felt completely irritated, rejected and infuriated by a man who I had been dating but had decided to end things by ignoring me. I wondered whether he had been injured or worse but I think he just hoped that I would move on and forget about him. That way, no uncomfortable conversation about things ending would have to take place. I was over it after a week but one of the pieces of advice I received that didn’t help was, “don’t dwell on it”.
I knew this was probably the right advice but I spent a lot of time wondering whether to text, what might be his motivations, was it something I had said or done and what could have occurred in this grown man’s life to make him communicate (or not) so childishly?
All I wanted to do was dwell in over-analysis ! This advice grated on me so much that I have compiled a list of pointless things we say which should be discarded.
The real reason we say these things is to avoid facing something which is uncomfortable. Instead, I advocate getting to grips with your emotions and accepting that conflict is part of life. You can and will, learn from it and grow.
“Don’t dwell on it”
Emotions need to be felt, experienced, acknowledged and given a voice. It may take hours, days or months. When we don’t do this, conflict may follow because emotions fester. Once you have accepted how you feel and allowed them to be there, they will subside into a state of mind that allows you to think clearly.
This is an active process. Acceptance is not something passive that just happens, you have to go through the emotional disruption and its discomfort to get to a place of peace.
“Just move on”
If only it were that easy. If only I could just switch on a button so that I could accept the break-up of a relationship, ill treatment, misunderstanding or loss. That’s just not how we work. Maybe there are times when we can move on but in general, we need to take steps before we can. That could include taking some time out and thinking things through or it could mean, having a conversation with somebody to resolve matters. The point is that you need to deal constructively with your emotions, figure out what you want to do about the conflict and then you can move on.
Conflict is not usually black and white. It’s complex and messy because it involves our emotions, our memories of what happened and our perceptions of somebody’s behaviour. We usually get to conflict after a period of miscommunication or a lack of communication which leads to us creating stories about the other person.
It really doesn’t help to hear that you are right. A person may agree with your view of the conflict or see it from your perspective but there is always another side to any story.
If you continue to believe you’re right and the other person is wrong, you’ll end up stuck in your position. It makes resolution more difficult as your belief that you are right might turn into a need to win.
Sometimes it’s best to ignore conflict but only after you have considered your conflict considerations and come to the conclusion that nothing positive or worthwhile can come out of confrontation. However, it’s not an approach that you should always adopt. Conflict avoidance can make things worse as the other person may feel offended, ignored and unimportant because of your silence. The other person’s perceptions could construe the conflict in a number of ways. The silent treatment is childish, and you need to think carefully before you adopt it.
Can you think of any other useless conflict advice? Let me know by leaving a comment below!