“I was pretty irritated, but it was gonna be a a whole thing if I brought it up, so I just swallowed it.”

Our lives are full of petty frustrations with other people, ranging from basically insignificant all the way up to serious conflicts.

How do you tend to respond to conflict? Many of the folks I work with, including my former self, tend to be conflict swallowers.

I swallowed my frustrations with people I cared about, all the way up to my divorce and a dissolution of a business partnership. Then, and only then did I realize that swallowing my irritations was choking me and those relationships.

Swallowing conflict leads to ongoing fatiguediminished energy, and lower self-esteem. I even had some physical throat issues when I used to swallow conflict, including losing my voice at times.

 

gif of a woman cough choking and touching her throatCredit: ThePastaQueen

We swallow conflict often thinking that it will bring peace…but it just brings the war inside of us.

After several of my relationships imploded, I got honest with myself that swallowing conflict didn’t save my marriage or my friendship. It just made me feel disempowered and small.

I dedicated the next years to getting REALLY GOOD at dealing with conflict in a healthy way. I learned that we have two choices when conflict arises — you can either bring it up with the other person, or battle with yourself.

 

image of titled "When conflict arises, which do you choose?" Showing two different images. The one on the left has two people facing one another talking calmly, text below reads 'bring it up'. The image on the right shows a person with an angry face pointing at their reflection and holding a hammer, text below reads 'battle yourself'

 

Of course it takes education and skill practice to get good at handling conflict with other people. If you are like me, though, you’re willing to work at a skill if it means you become more powerful, in a healthy way.

 

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