Image: Conflict/Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

Coping with conflict among friends and family

Arguing with a loved one is something that we are all familiar with, but this doesn’t make it any less painful to experience. For something that happens so frequently, when we share our conflict with others, the response is often along the lines of – “don’t worry, you’ll make up soon”.

We might know that deep down one of us will rationalise each other’s qualms and sort it out in a few days, but what do we do when it feels impossible to see the light at the end of the tunnel in an argument?

Arguing is healthy if it happens in moderation. It is a signal to your partner, friend or family member that you care enough about your relationship with them to express your thoughts and concerns. It is also an indicator that you want to resolve an issue to allow your relationship to grow and progress.

Dealing with conflict at university in particular can be unbearable and exhausting

If they engage in the argument, it is a signal to you therefore that they care too, and if that is the only thing you can hold onto in the conflict then you absolutely should. Nonetheless, conflict is certainly not black and white, and knowing that you care about each other is not always enough to deal with it.

Dealing with conflict at university in particular can be unbearable and exhausting. During my time as a student, I have tried to find methods to cope with conflict in ways that minimise the impact on my wellbeing.

Something I have found at university when engaged in conflict is that it is important to have space as intense arguments will not be fixed within an hour. There are things that need to be unpacked and discussed in order to understand the root causes, and this cannot be done without stepping back to take time apart. Time apart not only allows you to realise how much you actually value the person as absence makes the heart grow fonder but also gives you time to yourself that you may not have even realised you needed.

Conflict is a two-way street that deserves the observation of both perspectives

When it comes to conflict with friends, I believe it saves an awful lot of trouble down the line if you keep the conflict as private as possible. It is tempting to go and talk about it with other people, but I recommend doing this in a constructive way. It is unproductive to talk to people who only want to hear drama, so make sure you discuss conflict with people who are able to see the situation objectively. Conflict is a two-way street that deserves the observation of both perspectives.

Conflict, I’ll admit, makes me feel like I am in utter crisis. My friends, partner and my family are the cornerstones of my life and without them, I feel lost. Crisis, however, does not always have to be negative. Utilise the time and space you now have to look after yourself.

The only person responsible for your reaction to conflict is yourself

Nothing is static and things will change, including your emotional state. Telling yourself it will be okay is one of the kindest things you can do, and this can help prevent overthinking. I like to do art, write or read when I feel stressed. Distractions like this help to improve your mood. This combined with time and space allow you to revisit the conflict and address it calmly.

Try not to allow the conflict to take over your life. Carry on as normal and by sticking to your daily routine and plans, you are not allowing conflict to infiltrate your life.

Most importantly, remember that you are in control. It can be hard to hear, but the only person responsible for your reaction to conflict is yourself. You’re allowed to feel every emotion in response, but it is useful to remember that there is life outside of conflict.

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