Why You Avoid Conflicts (And What You Miss)

Conflicts are painful and scare. It is tempting to avoid them. On the other hand, if I consider conflicts as something that is fundamentally part of life and growth, then I will develop myself. I can be open and curious again. This involves researching three perspectives: my own, those of the other person, and the conditions that contribute to our conflict. You also find that interpersonal or internal conflicts are difficult to endure and try to avoid them if possible? Then welcome to the club. Would not it be nice to live in a world without these conflicts? It probably depends on how you look at a conflict.

How you look at a conflict:

Quick solutions to reduce pain and anxiety

If you are primarily aware of the pain and anxiety that a conflict causes in you, then it makes sense to seek a quick fix. So why not quickly agree with what you would actually reject; why not give in quickly so that everything is harmonious; or why not quickly prevail where you have more power; or ignore the one with whom you are experiencing a conflict?

Yes, such quick fixes have the distinct advantage of not having to endure the intense feelings and pain of a conflict at the moment. Instead, you bypass all the issues associated with the conflict; these issues are often hard to bear - feelings of addiction or lack of self-esteem may be affected; and not infrequently, conflicts go straight to the roots, their own identity, their own roles and expectations.

An example

I take an example from myself: how many internal and external conflicts I experienced alone, that I moved from Hamburg to Copenhagen a few years ago. All of these conflicts had to do with my identity, in this case my origin, my language, my culture, my job and my new role as father.

Find the solutions

During this time, I met several other foreigners who seemingly elegantly solved this problem: They told me that you had "sacrificed" or "abandoned" your culture, or that your future was "exclusively" in Denmark. Oh, how I wanted to be happy - and how reluctant I was to find the solutions they had come to expect.

Transformation instead of fast solutions

No, there were no quick fixes. Rather, I learned (once again) that conflicts can be viewed from two fundamentally different perspectives.

  • The conflict is a problem that I have to solve as quickly as possible in order to get away from the pain and the violent feelings. The conflict has little to do with me and my growth.
  • The conflict is intense and painful, and I take time to explore and get to know it, to become clearer and grow. I see the conflict as an opportunity to learn something new and go directly to it.

In Example 1, I probably perceive the conflict, in particular the pain or the violent feelings such as fear or anger. In Example 2, I perceive the conflict as something that makes me curious to know more.

The three perspectives to explore the conflict

This "more" I'm interested in ultimately consists of at least three perspectives.

The first view is my own, as I experience the conflict at the moment. What is important from my perspective? What are the reasons for this conflict? What is going on in me?

Second, I can look at the conflict from the perspective of the other person (s) - how does she experience this conflict? How does this person experience me in this conflict? It is also possible to ask how an outsider would describe the conflict.

Thirdly, it makes sense to take a somewhat broader perspective: Are there any other factors that play a role here? Do cultural differences matter? Is there an indirectly involved, other group or structures, eg the family or the workplace?

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Important in these questions is that it is not about truth or right. You can assume that there is always something to be completed and still more perspectives. It's about the process of describing and exploring that helps you find more than "quick fixes".

In the long term you will learn to understand conflicts as learning opportunities and actively seek them instead of avoiding them.

The Harder You Work, the Better Your Luck

The Harder You Work, the Better Your Luck

The intrinsic value of hard work is deeply rooted in human society.  If one works hard enough, success is not only possible but probable. It’s the rags to riches story, or the American Dream, which according to 40% of people in a recent PBS poll, is dead.  Compare that to the mere 36% that still believe hard work brings success and the 24% that claim they “aren’t sure”.  The new pervasive attitude replacing it appears to be that one’s station in life is just that: stationary.  Improvement in unlikely and success is less about effort and more about luck.

It is not uncommon to hear, “I’m so lucky I got the job!” but what does it really have to do with luck?   That rings just as true for the other, less favorable outcome: “What’s the use in applying for that job?  I won’t get it because I have terrible luck with interviews.”

Bad things happen. One doesn’t always get what they want, but the second failure is attributed to bad luck is the second someone becomes subject to a helpless mindset that leads to less hard worn the next time: “It didn’t work this time, so why should I break my back the next only for the same outcome?”  Expectations become psychological limits, and superstitions become self-fulfilling prophecies.  Samuel Beckett famously penned the words, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”  Imagine if he had believed in the power of luck over work, the quote would have read something more along the lines of, “Ever tried. Ever failed. Why try again?” Believe you won’t be successful because you are unlucky and, well, you probably won’t.

“Is the American Dream Dead or Alive?”  PBS.org. WGBH Educational Foundation. 2016.  Web. 26 July 2018.


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Undervaluing hard work in the role of personal and professional success is the single most self-sabotaging act. Believing in the value of hard work is motivation, if nothing else. Those who believe they have some control over their success are more likely to work toward it, to listen to advise from successful people, to seek mentorship, and to not blind themselves to opportunities right in front on them.

Alas, explaining things through luck is pervasive in modern society. It is easier to explain failure by avoiding personal fault and instead attributing it to some arbitrary, omnipotent roulette wheel. Somehow it stings less to know one didn’t get that dream job, not because they were an incompetent candidate, but because they did not display their middle initials or were born in the wrong month. Born in June or July? Don’t count on becoming a C.E.O. Both farcical sounding examples are real correlations expounded upon by recent research and subsequent articles on the relationship between luck and success. How I put the odds in my favor and went from losing to win, you should not play games without knowing this.

People attribute stunning athletic upsets to “lucky shots” paying no mind to the thousands of hours of practice those athletes have put in to that very shot throughout their careers.

In business, there are the “lucky ones”, referred to as such mostly by begrudging lesser entrepreneurs with no mind to the process leading to the profit. In reality, the “lucky ones” get lucky through knowing their worth, taking risks, and being unapologetically driven. For those unwilling to make the necessary sacrifices, then, that is all reduced to luck, a far easier and self-satisfying explanation that allows one to avoid admitting one’s own shortcomings.

Consider an example: Yvonne Chouinard, founder of Choudinard Equipment (the company that became Black Diamond) and later the wildly successful eco-friendly outdoor company Patagonia, started with nothing, and hand made his early products himself in a shed. Over decades, that backyard enterprise that targeted poor rock climbers turned into a monolithic corporation. Calling that luck is an insult to Mr. Chouinard.

Business magnate and investor Richard Branson states in the essay “Success From Hard Work Is Not Luck”, “Sadly the vast majority of people seem to view their chances of “getting lucky” in much the same vein as the likelihood of being struck by lightning, as if it is something over which they have zero control. Well, in my humble opinion they couldn’t be further from the truth – anyone who wants to make the effort to work on their luck can and will seriously improve it”[i].

[i] Branson, Richard.  The Virgin Way: Everything I Know About Leadership. New York: Portfolio/Penguin, 2014. Print.

How to do so? While good things do not just fall from the sky, one can increase their chances of being exposed to “lucky” happenings.  Creators can create more and get their work in more places.  Writers can submit as many book and article proposals as possible, despite 100:1 rejection ratios. Businessmen can get their hands in as many ventures as is financially wise.  The list goes on, but the point is that anyone can subject themselves to greater exposure in whatever their occupation is. The more exposure one receives, the more likely they are to stumble upon that highly coveted stroke of good fortune.

Another common attribution to success is the “right place, right time” explanation, but statistically, you can increase your odds of achieving a desirable end by putting yourself in that right place more frequently.  Staying alert and researching upcoming opportunities can be a great tool of prediction as well, and far more reliable than passively waiting for right time.

Imagine a scenario in which a person finds a $10 bill on the street; random things do happen independent to personal effort. Yet consider that one could search a large shopping mall parking lot, actively seeking out loose change, and probably acquire a greater sum than $10 in a couple hours of searching. The latter is more work, but in the end, yields more money on a more regular basis than waiting to randomly find cash. The key is repeatability and hard work is nothing if not habitual.

Even luck, it would seem, is a product of hard work, merely acting as the middleman between the self and success.  Just because an outcome seems unlikely or too good to be true, doesn’t mean it cannot be brought about through direct, intentional action.  Practice that unsinkable shot.  Apply for that prestigious job.  Put in the time and energy to manufacture good fortune, and when it comes, own the success.  Attribute it to nothing less than sheer effort.  It takes resilience, perseverance, optimism, even; all synonymous with hard work.

For more information on how to direct your hard work in a productive direction and make your own luck, download this free eBook and subscribe to this blog.

For more information on how to direct your hard work in a productive direction and make your own luck, download this free eBook

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[1] “Is the American Dream Dead or Alive?”  PBS.org. WGBH Educational Foundation. 2016.  Web. 26 …

Be Different Than You Are – Above The Pressure Of Expectation (With Exercises)

We all know the pressure of expectations. Starting with our family of origin, through the school, the workplace, in our private relationships, social media and up to the influences and impressions of the wider society - unpleasant pressure of expectation can occur everywhere.

The circle closes in the expectations that you have taken to this day and now put to yourself. For example, this might sound like this: I have to take a certain job. I have to start a family. I always have to be polite. I can not be selfish. I have to be successful. I can not care for myself. I'm not allowed to show how I really am. I always have to be in a good mood. I'd better pretend that nothing is wrong.

Align life to the expectations of others Such expectations are to unfold the effect in your life and show in your choices; how you are and what you want to do; they are part of how you see yourself, how you perceive your body, which people you turn to, what you think important, what plans you make or how you engage in relationships and conflicts.

Expectations that are simply taken over, that you have delegated to you and that you follow, have consequences. There is pressure; and even if you are able to meet expectations, there may be deep feelings behind not being satisfied, not being right, and having to be different than you actually are.

Expectations are hidden conditions

We usually leave that part of the expectation away. For example, the above sentences could be:

- I have to take a certain profession to find recognition.

- I have to start a family to be happy.

- I always have to be polite to be there.

- I can not be selfish to experience solidarity.

- I have to be successful in order to be valuable.

- I can not take care of myself so that nobody attacks me or punishes me with silence.

- I'm not allowed to show how I really am, so I'm not beaten.

- I always have to be in a good mood to be loved.

As you can see, expectations are actually hard if-then conditions. I have to fulfill an expectation to get a resource that should be freely available; Namely love, recognition, solidarity, importance or the inviolability of their own borders.

The principle of all expectations: Do not feel, do not test

The key to adjusting to expectations is the ability to not feel and not to test. So I always put the needs of other people above my own perceptions and notions that I can slowly and surely forget to name and express.

Often it is virtually forbidden in families or groups to feel and express what is important to oneself - keyword "do not be selfish", "you are so complicated", "now do not be so". In this way, we learn to orient ourselves to the expectations of others and forget to compare them with my own values ​​and desires. "Do not feel, do not test" becomes an only indirectly perceptible, universal rule of life that surrounds us like the air we breathe.

Longing and pressure are connected

This can be good for a long time. But as soon as you can no longer live up to expectations or no longer fulfill them, you will come under pressure. or rather, you become aware of the yearning for another life of pressure under which you live constantly.


In this transitional phase, most of the people who are under the pressure of expectation come to me. On the one hand pressure, suffering and inconsistent behavior are present, while at the same time new possibilities are noticeable as a longing for a better life, for more freedom of choice and good limits.

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Find Expectations And Conditions And Put Into Words

Pressure is often only diffusely perceptible, because he is so used to us. Therefore, a first step is to put the expectations or conditions behind them into words. Expectations in the form of rigid rules, commandments or prohibitions are best suited for this:

- I have to ...

- I should ...

- It is forbidden ...

- I can not ...

Take time to make a list of all the commandments and prohibitions that you expect from yourself. Make sure that commandments and prohibitions not only affect actions, but can also affect particular thoughts, feelings, etc.

If you like you can add an "Else" to each line. Think about what would happen or what you fear if you did not meet that expectation - and write it down to the expectation.

Exercise 2: Slowing down and anchoring

Going slow is an important skill, especially if you are trapped in suffering. Being trapped means that you are only superficially aware of your body and, without testing, you are taking over what is floating in your thoughts and feelings.

However, if you go slowly and take your time to become aware of your body and gain your attention, it is possible to become open and curious about what is happening in you.

Take the time to look at your list and experience your body at the same time. Here is your body and your breathing ... and there are expectations written down. Take time to just keep these expectations company. It can be helpful to put one or both hands on your body to help you really be present.

This exercise is about being completely with you. The clearer you can be with you, the more open and unconditional you can see what's going on in you (or around you). In such a moment you emerge from what limits your vision.

Exercise 3: To perceive expectation pressure and to learn to use it

If I break a rule, I get the feeling, for example, that I'm taking something out of my hands. Maybe there's a threat in the room that something bad will happen to me; or I'm in danger of not belonging or being punished. This creates shame and guilt, and other feelings can arise, such as envy or anger at others who do not abide by my rules - and thus hold the mirror up to me.

Active expectations are therefore recognized by the fact that you feel bad. Generally it means "Be different than you are"; and this pressure does not feel good - and is usable in two ways.

How can I use this for myself? Expectations are filled with the rules, ideals, (unfulfilled) desires, ideas, values ​​or needs of others - including the pressure to adapt and embrace them. That this does not feel good makes sense. If I can feel the pressure as an unpleasant feeling, then I can understand the feeling in the first step. I can see, "Attention! Something in me puts pressure. That does not feel good. Something is wrong here ".

At the same time, you can deduce what you need instead. You can actively invite this in a second step, for example by saying, "I take the time to realize what it would take instead." Or as a sentence supplement: "Instead of pressure it needs ..." or "At the core and without pressure, I wish me …"

Be curious about what appears here as the equivalent of pressure, eg connection, recognition, collection. As soon as I understand that the pressure is about connection and a sense of belonging, for example, I can start to relax. The more I understand what it is all about, the easier it is to be left to the pressure of expectation - while at the same time following the positive and constructive aspects that are contained within it.

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How To Disable Avoidance

Our neurosis- repetitive and sterile ways of relating to others and the world is not caused as much by the suffering generated by what happened as by the ways we find to defend ourselves from it. The “cure” is less about learning techniques of unlearning and deactivating our usual mechanisms of avoidance.

In addition to generating a neurotic behavior, the avoidance behavior produces an effect that makes it sustain over time while maintaining fear intact.

By not facing the situation that causes uncertainty, we never prove that we are capable of going through it. Consequently, his perspective becomes increasingly frightening.

Like those comic monsters that feed on the fear of their victims, so the feared situation grows and becomes more powerful every time we avoid it.

To prevent this mechanism from continuing to advance and affect more areas of our lives, it is essential to recognize it and begin to undo the road traveled. To do this, when we feel stuck, we could return to that old Fritz question: “What am I avoiding?”.

Surely the answer will come to us easily because the fears are always there beating.

Once identified what we avoid, it will be a matter of heading there. Fear must function as an indicator that, instead of dissuading us, guides us.

It is about daring to face what we fear: to run the risk of losing something, to sustain a confrontation, to endure a rejection.

As the strategic therapist Giorgio Nardone said, “if you see yourself in the need to avoid something, avoid avoiding.” If we manage to do it, our profit will be double:

We will abandon a neurotic behavior that generates discomfort and stagnates us.

We will learn what we need to cope with the different manifestations of the same conflict on all occasions when it comes to us in the future.

How To Face A Duel

Let’s see, for example, how to go through a duel or a loss:

If we lose a loved one, we will feel hurt. We are likely to want to fall back on ourselves, distance ourselves a little from the world around us, and be in touch with that genuine pain.

If we believe that this pain will destroy us -because, for example, this happened to our mother- or if we believe that we must be strong -because our father taught it to use, then we will not allow ourselves to feel the sadness. We will interrupt the healthy, though painful, a process of mourning.

If, on the other hand, we have been able to go through the duel, we will discover that we can contact other things and other people and find satisfaction there.

But if in that we see a sign of lack of love towards the being that we have lost, it is possible that at that moment we interrupt that process of reopening the world. We will remain locked, doing what we have lost an altar; and of our life, a consecration.

Healthy pain or neurotic pain

It is not possible to establish general rules to know, in each situation, what our organism needs as a whole. That is why our conscience is often confused. It is about being attentive to the real needs that arise at every moment so as not to get in the way.

To do this, in order not to divert or stop the natural process that leads to the satisfaction of each need and, therefore, to a state of equilibrium, it is necessary to pay attention to what we fear would happen if we surrender to our feelings.

What appears as fearsome on the horizon, and which we usually avoid, is usually one of these four things:

A loss – as in the first example.

A confrontation,

A rejection

The revelation of an unpleasant truth for us – for example, when the supposedly unpleasant truth is revealed that we can love others beyond the lost person.

When, as unpleasant, we avoid these experiences, what we do is change healthy pain for neurotic suffering.

The terrible difference between the two is that healthy pain is nutritious, it teaches us something; when passing through it, when crossing it, it evolves towards another sensation and, finally, it leaves us, having grown up with it.

Neurotic suffering, on the other hand, can be eternal: it is repetitive and, therefore, it does not teach us anything, it leads us to behave in the same way over and over again; we do not cross it but we stagnate in it.

We could compare healthy pain with a gear inside machinery that, when turning, consumes energy to produce a job; the neurotic suffering, on the other hand, would be a loose gear that turns in false, useless.

For that reason, sometimes, the therapy process is painful, because it does not pursue happiness -or at least not at the beginning- but rather leads us to experience the painful experiences that we have been avoiding and that contain the learning that that same avoidance – we have skipped.

Sigmund Freud himself, at the beginning of psychotherapy, said how great the gain was if, as therapists, we managed to “change the neurotic suffering by common and ordinary suffering”.

Avoid Avoiding! How To face our Fears And Conflicts

Avoiding those situations that we fear can bring us short-term relief. But, in the long run, it is a mechanism that encloses us in a repetitive cycle with no exit. The problem will become greater and will gradually limit our vital possibilities.

Our mind is self-regulating

Fritz Perls, a creator of Gestalt therapy, argued that in this therapeutic model there are only three really important questions:

The first is “what are you doing?” , Which tries to lead the person to experience the here and now.

With the second question, “How are you doing?” , It is intended that the one to whom it is directed deepens in the realization.

The third and final question is “what are you avoiding?”.

With this, we can get an idea of ​​the importance of the concept of avoidance in Gestalt therapy.

From its beginnings, the creators of this therapy emphasized the idea of homeostasis; that is, the capacity of our organism -and our psyche- to self-regulate itself before the changes in the environment in order to maintain a state of internal equilibrium.

If we let our organism “flow”, then, of course, we would find balance again.

We should allow our body to seek the appropriate way to react to a certain event to cry, to get angry, to laugh, to get closer, to move away-without interrupting or repressing it or questioning it.

Complications appear when our conscience intrudes and interrupts this process. We are constantly interrupting ourselves, Perls said. And why do we do it? we interrupt ourselves because, for various reasons, there is something we want to avoid from that natural flow of experience.

Our past experiences, our mandates or the vanity of maintaining our self-image tell us that something unpleasant or dangerous will happen if we let the natural process run its course.

To avoid this dreaded consequence, we interrupt the process of homeostasis and force ourselves to move in a certain direction or to remain immobile.

Without knowing it, by interrupting this process we have unbalanced ourselves. We have become neurotic.

5 Ways To Avoid Conflicts In Your Work

About 10 hours is what Mexicans work in a single day , a situation that is not only stressful, but creates problems in your work. A good way to deal with stress and increase productivity is to foster an atmosphere of peace and happiness .

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) points out that Mexico has the longest working hours, with respect to the countries that comprise it. That is why it is urgent to know the best methods to avoid conflicts at work.

Put them into practice!

On the occasion of the International Day for nonviolence and peace, which is celebrated this January 30, learn to resolve conflicts in your work, where you spend much of your time.

  1. Do a self-analysis

 María Luz García, director of ADAMS Training , says that before criticizing a classmate, you should examine yourself. Do you do the same? Can you do something to remedy it?

  1. Avoid distrust

Relax and avoid seeing undue “intentions” in the behavior of the partners. Do not act before thinking it over. Try to be cordial and apologize when you affect third parties.

  1. Forget the assumptions

Be proactive and if you want something, ask for it directly. If you’re not comfortable with something, express it. Never give something for granted, because maybe it does not mean the same thing to others.

  1. Cooperates

Do not see your colleagues as a competition, but as allies. Remember that they are a team and everyone’s effort generates job growth. Respect the activities of others and focus on yours.

  1. Share

Try to share your emotions, the good news, the worries and the victories. The more you do it, the better you will communicate and get to know your coworkers.

Envy or work jealousy can bring out the worst in ourselves, so have a positive mind. “To educate in equality and respect is to educate against violence”. Benjamin Franklin

So We Must Always Face Conflicts?

Not necessarily. Facing conflicts does not mean making a whole conflict.

In fact, the idea is to prevent them, but not avoid them when they are already presented. What difference there is?

Prevent a conflict

When you drive, you avoid hitting other cars.

Cause a conflict

Deliberately crash your car with another.

Avoid a conflict

When you crash your car with another car, you face the problem in the best possible way. What would not help is to run between the cars leaving your car?

If possible, solve the problem and the issue is not so important, avoid it permanently or temporarily.For example; enter into conflict to determine if the movie you just saw is good or not maybe not worth it, because they will not determine if you are good and in the end, it will probably not make a significant difference in their lives.Sometimes it helps to avoid it temporarily so that things “cool down”, but if the problem is recurrent or serious it must be resumed. In couples, using the “we have to talk” formula even for things as simple as using the “wrong” glass to drink milk is counterproductive.

John Gottman says that couples who last a long time and are happy to have these attitudes in relation to conflicts:

  • They know that making a drama for whatever it makes no sense.
  • They recognize that seeking to change aspects of their partner’s personality will bring more frustrations than satisfaction and they will not create conflict over this.
  • When they come into conflict, they first seek to let it go and if not then they seek to resolve it.
  • They recognize that avoiding conflicts brings benefits.
  • Avoiding conflicts do not involve for them giving up relevant needs, it does not damage their identity and they do not see it as losing.

 What to do?

  • If you are with someone like that and is a significant person for you.
  • Make disagreements or conflicts something natural, that seeks resolution and puts less drama on the issue.
  • Avoid basking when you are right and make a tragedy when you are not.
  • If you are a conflict avoider and that brings you problems with yourself or with others.
  • Recognize that facing conflicts may not be pleasant and that is normal.
  • Identify if the matter can be resolved or you have to learn to live with it.
  • Keep the attention more on the resolution of the issue and less on the emotions, which are inevitable.

Is It Wrong To Avoid Conflicts?

  • No, in fact, it would be ideal to prevent them.
  • The problem is not the avoidance of a conflict; what makes it negative is:
  • The reason why you want to avoid.
  • Fear or anxiety are the worst reasons.
  • The cost of avoiding it
  • You never charge what you lend, live with someone you are no longer comfortable with, work in places you no longer want, find it hard to say no, tolerate abuses “voluntarily”, conformism projects or weakness of character and they grab you as a pig.
  • You let things stagnate for years.
  • You channel feelings that occur through the isolation or consumption of substances.

What have you come to tolerate to avoid a conflict?

The real importance of the subject.

A Greek tragedy about the half-open refrigerator is perhaps somewhat exaggerated.

If it solves the problem or not, avoid it.

If you throw it under the rug and the problem comes up again and again then avoiding is not the best strategy.

 What are you afraid of conflict avoiders?

To the reaction of the other.

Punishment or disappointment.

In couples, an overly demanding person can shoot in the other avoidance behaviors and a vicious circle forms.

To emotions derived from conflicts.

  • Before the conflict there are two perspectives:
  • Orientation towards feelings.
  • Hypersensitive people to whom the emotional impact of themselves or of others is a priority over logic or facts.
  • Orientation towards thoughts.
  • People who recognize the emotional cost of a decision, procure the one that causes the least possible impact, but the greatest benefit achievable for the system (relationship or person).

To have their image and identity damaged.

  • They do not want to be the bad guys in the story.
  • This is derived from distorted self-esteem.
  •  To his incompetence to resolve conflicts.
  • Derived from authoritarian parents, who always believed they were right, they were distributors of blame, who demanded blind obedience and devotion, did not listen to arguments or problems with the handling of emotions.

There are those who work with conflicts but emotional situations cannot handle them.