Resolving Interpersonal Conflicts Part 3 – Understanding Positive Emotions

In this last section, we will be talking about positive emotions. These are emotional experiences that we usually enjoy having or aim to be in. As the label implies, it’s easy for us to feel positive about these. But often, an over-abundance of positivity towards them must be tempered with a more balanced understanding. Otherwise, our desire for positivity can upset our ability to stay connected to the reality of our situation. In interpersonal conflict, this can result in things like: allowing others to walk all over us, clinginess, refusing to acknowledge another person’s reality, avoiding confrontation, and making excuses for a bad situation. These kinds of consequences highlight the importance of, again, treating all emotions with care and respect. If each emotion gets a chance to be heard and understood, then each can be part of the resolution.

(If you want to go back, here are the links to part 1 and part 2)

With that said, let’s get into it.


These feelings often point us towards a mutually beneficial result, both for one’s self and the other person. We can want what’s best for ourselves and someone else at the same time – they aren’t mutually exclusive. This love can sustain us and help us keep harmony while we work on more self-focused feelings, like anger.

Now, while it can feel righteous to be as loving as possible, there are definitely a few pitfalls here. Let’s go over them.

Fear and appeasement

First, it’s important to recognize that sometimes fear, in a conflict, can masquerade as love. Fear thinks that by avoiding a conflict, we’re bringing harmony to a relationship. Like was said in the fear section, this avoidance ultimately causes isolation. It breaks down the connection instead of bringing stability to it. This is because there is no authenticity in fear. Genuine connection must come from a fearless and authentic place, or else it will not stand the test of time. That is because we grow into our fearless selves. We shed falseness as we grow. And with that, we’ll also shed connections that were based in falsehood.


Second, attachment can also appear like love. It seeks control, instead of altruism. If another person’s autonomy threatens you, you’re likely in attachment, not love. People are outside of our control, and times of conflict can call our sense of control into question. It’s good to have your control checked, because by seeking control you can induce trauma and violate boundaries. The “accidental betrayals”, that control-seeking causes you to commit, can end relationships.

Instead, it’s important to approach a conflict in good faith, and with a sense of openness. That means you have to show a willingness to hear what the other person wants, and honor their autonomy. To connect with someone is to stand beside them freely, not to stand over them. Ultimately, you have to accept that the honorable outcome might not be the one you’re hoping for. Can you walk that road?

It’s important to acknowledge and understand their side, while acknowledging the way your side differs from theirs. You have to understand the whole story for what it is, rather than preferring your version of it. Only then can you be respectful towards the feelings of all involved, and thus move forward respectfully. To this end, allow your anger and negative emotions to hold your love accountable, and to make sure that you are being as loving towards yourself as you might want to be towards the other person.

Ultimately, love is not merely a dream of a no-conflict, harmonious state with those around us. It is action taken to sustain what is good and worthwhile. It is to have an investment in the benefit of all, and to put forward effort towards that end.

Love and Ego

Love, also, cannot be from ego. There is the temptation that by acting loving, we can gain special status and favors from others. After all, who would argue with a truly loving and giving person? Who would ask more of them, when they’re already so giving?

If we’re high and mighty in interpersonal conflicts, it can interrupt our ability to be truly there for people. We’ll ignore their needs in the conflict, and only tend to our own. Any claim that we’re not thinking of them is taken as a slight, an offense! Yet, the fruits of love, and the fruits of ego are both evident. Make sure you love in your actions, and not just for show. Don’t just convince yourself you’re loving. Otherwise you’ll sabotage relationships, all in the name of love.

The Delusion of Self-Sacrifice

When you’re trying to stay true to love, you can go too far and become self-sacrificing. A conflict is not always your fault, or yours to fix alone. Sometimes, you need to assert yourself. Moreover, you can’t stay true to love and not be caring towards yourself, too. You must listen to your feelings, take your hurt into consideration, and consider options that keep yourself in your priorities. Love is not to be lost in ideals, but to remain grounded enough to affect positive change.

Finding Your Authentic Love

Given all the pitfalls, how do you find the power of your own love? Ultimately, you need to connect with the feeling of being loving. One technique to try is to imagine what someone loving and trustworthy would advise you to do in the conflict. Would they say to give yourself some space and time away from the conflict? Would they tell you it’s important to assert yourself against behavior that denies love or creates harm? Consider their opinions. Just make sure you connect to that feeling.

Overall, love is an incredible power, coming from deep within you, that allows you to move towards conflict resolution. It inspires you to even want a resolution in the first place. It heals the world, takes a broken situation and mends it. But it must be real. It must come without attachment, fear, or ego, even as you acknowledge those forces too.

Detach from Outcomes

We might think, “oh, because we love this person, the situation must end up in a nice way.” But what is a “nice way”? This is an idea of a fixed reality. Thus to think this way is anxiety, and control – an attachment to the appearance of love. Take a dip into the energy of being loving, and check your ideas against it. Be willing to hear love out.

Our hoped-for ideas of an outcome may not happen, but that’s okay! Surrendering to love’s sense of how to handle things can guide us towards unexpected wonder. To love is to heal towards something more than what we know. Love’s healing is not merely a band-aid as a cut returns to normal skin. It is the sprouting of new flowers, and life that was never witnessed in long-dead places.

But all this comes back to the practical. What could really help out two people in conflict? That’s how you get to the beauty: by tending to the practical, raw, and real. You can’t wish a flower to grow. You must bring water, dirt, and seeds. And you must tend it diligently.


What is comfortable? Sometimes, it seems like inaction is comfortable. But if one is lying on a bed of nails, is it truly comfortable to remain there?

An interpersonal conflict can be very uncomfortable, and even ask us to do a lot of uncomfortable things. Our desire for comfort can then prompt us to avoid and prolong the conflict. “If we don’t bring up the conflict, we’ll be comfortable!”, “Eh, maybe this situation will fix itself”. These kinds of thoughts can often go by unnoticed. After all, being aware of them might lead to discomfort. Truthfully though, these kinds of excuses cause more harm than good. Bad situations need to get faced. To turn away limits our access to sensitivity, intuition, honesty with ourselves, integrity, and responsibility. We’re less at peace with ourselves, and ultimately disempowered.

Facing Discomfort through healthy comfort

To face discomfort, we can’t blindly run away from comfort, either. Taking on too much pain and suffering all at once is going to backfire. We need to take what’s healthy in comfort, release the rest, and move forward.

So what is the good in comfort? Comfort can teach us the valuable lesson of where we’d like to get to. Our comfort always has a destination in mind.

Example: Imagine comfort says: “eh, let’s just not do anything, this’ll go away on its own”. What’s the destination? In this case, it’s an unworried state. This means we probably have some pretty serious worries that need looking at. And by addressing those worries, either through plans or reassurance, you address the discomfort.

Real comfort values a life that we feel good existing in, and seeks to change circumstances. Do not take the powerless path by saying things will just come to you. If you really want things to improve, acknowledge it and do the work required to bring improvement. Ultimately, we’ll feel more satisfied with that than merely waiting for satisfying things to appear.

Remember: It is okay to seek comfort, but when we’re attached to it, we disempower ourselves. Attachment destabilizes us on the inside, and distorts our priorities. By observing and honoring all sides of an issue, we can find satisfaction with our choices. Such satisfaction is a deep part of stability.

Example: Trouble at work

Let’s say you’re having a disagreement with someone at work, around how a task should be done. You’ve talked about it a few times, but they seem pretty stubborn in how they want to do it.

You might make excuses: “oh, it’s fine, I’ll just let them do it their way”. But you still see the negative consequences of their actions. Maybe they create unnecessary work for others through their inefficiency.

You feel anger deep down, but you make excuses and brush it aside, returning to that comfortable place of inaction. Next, you start to feel animosity towards your co-worker. Others tell you about how this person’s behavior is affecting them, too. It’s making the work environment less comfortable overall. You tell yourself it’s “not that bad”, but things keep getting worse and worse from there.

Let’s say that, instead, you decide to take action, first by fully acknowledging your anger. You feel what they’re doing is wrong and you can see a better way for all involved. This is a starting point. From there, you might need to investigate what’s causing the situation to continue. Things like the co-worker’s motives, or perhaps your own communication hang-ups. By actively studying the situation, you’re moving out of avoidant comfort and into one of pro-active problem solving.


Remember, your comfort carries your sense of where you want to get to. If you feel uncomfortable, rather than running away, consider what you need to do. And yes, it’s hard to admit you’re not where you want to be. But the first step towards finding a better place is to first admit you need to. It can feel like a bitter pill to swallow, but it is an honest path that can give you contentment. Where there is no denial or self-deceit, there is greater freedom. You can choose to put aside your mere wishes, and work to live freely in the world as it is.


One of the feelings we can have towards the person with whom we have a conflict is admiration. We might think the world of them. We could probably think of a million reasons why this person isn’t wrong, why they’re so good, and even perfect. They couldn’t be in the wrong! No no, it has to be us.

While admiration is good at inspiring us to acknowledge another’s viewpoint, it can also cause us to downplay our own. When we only take the blame, admit defeat, and conform, we put ourselves in a disempowered position. It’s important to balance the value we attribute to the other and to ourselves. Otherwise, we’re not going to adequately recognize what we need in a conflict.

And even perfect people can’t mind-read. We need to communicate for another person to know about us. In conflict, things like our feelings, interests, sensitivities, troubles, and boundaries can all be important to share. You need to be willing to participate too. And anyone can make a relationship mistake, because no one is always going to know everything about themselves and you.

Conflicts happen, and that’s okay. What matters is figuring out what you need, where you can communicate, and how you can make things better. To rely too much on the other person’s (perceived) perfection is to also give away your own power. You need self-respect, too. You need to have a sense of your own personal power and responsibility.


One of the aspects of working on a conflict is our outlook towards the future. Are we looking forward to the direction we’re headed? This kind of excited optimism can spur us towards taking action on a resolution, with positive goals in mind.

Remember though, you want to be wary of when that hopefulness leads to powerlessness. If we’re only hopeful that the other person will take action for us, then we’re abandoning our power. We’ll be anxiously waiting, wondering when we can be saved, rather than putting in the work ourselves.

If you’re caught in that kind of disempowered hope, think about the kinds of things you’re hoping for. What can you do to find those outcomes yourself? If it’s impossible on the surface to do anything, look deeper. Why do you want what you do? What underlying needs do you have? How else can you find them? There are always deeper needs that you can achieve yourself.

And even when working on the conflict itself, you can utilize your hope. You can ask: What hopeful outcomes could my conscious choice create in this conflict? What’s keeping me from being optimistic here? Is there anything I could understand better in this conflict in order to find a better outcome overall? What are my options? Optimism is persistent, so you can use it to brainstorm!

Optimism’s Fear of Negative Emotions

Try not to let a desire for hopefulness turn you away from your negative emotions. All emotions need to be part of the discussion, because the solution is often found through your negative emotions. They’re the ones crying out for something to change. They’re the ones showing you the situation isn’t right.

If you can find hope in tending to and healing the darkness, you can find lasting, truthful answers. You don’t have to cling to the light. You can work with the dark. This article, indeed, is largely about helping you find hope in conflicts that seem without answer. You have to find these answers inside yourself, and what feels wrong can often lead you towards what feels correct.


These negative and positive emotions are just some that can come up in a relation to a conflict. And as you can see, “positive” and “negative” are largely labels. Each emotion can be positive or negative depending on the context and how one responds to that emotion.

Looking for takeaways, here’s what you want to look for when working with your emotions:

  • Empowering answers to the issues you face
  • Wisdom and guidance in your negative emotions
  • Sustained support from your positive emotions
  • Understanding for yourself and others

Taking Action

Once you’ve really felt out an issue, it’s time to make a plan. What set of actions do you feel good about as a way of addressing the issue in front of you? If you’re having trouble with this, ask yourself: what are some reactive, unproductive things I could try? What doesn’t work about these ideas? Use this negative example to feel out the positive space, and to construct what would work.

You want to give yourself a chance to reflect and feel things out honestly. Often, the best place of action might be something we’re avoiding, but know we need to do. And to leave things unresolved is to cause harm in the conflict, often to ourselves.

So what are you going to do? Divide it into steps if you need to, and plan a time. Maybe it’s communicating a few key points about how you feel to someone, and suggesting a solution. Maybe it’s asking to hear their side of the story, then asking for time to reflect further.

Whatever you decide, make sure it feels right, and that it’s something you’re optimistic about as well. Then, go and try it. Maybe it doesn’t work out on a first try, but chances are it will move the conflict forward. You’ll have learned something about yourself and the other person. You can always return, reconsider your feelings, and make a new plan. It doesn’t have to be a big dramatic event. You can put in effort to make sure both you and the other person feel safe and secure. If you do the work of feeling it out, you’ll be able to affect positive outcomes more consistently.

Finding Growth Through Conflict Resolution

I hope this helps you with your interpersonal conflicts. Just remember: your solutions don’t have to be perfect, but they can still honor what you care about. As much as it can hurt to go through a conflict with someone, it can teach you many things. You can find greater compassion, patience, and understanding. And it can teach you how to finding harmony, both with other people, and within yourself.

Take care.

Click here to go back to Part 1 or Click here for Part 2

Understanding Negative Emotions During Conflict (Resolving Interpersonal Conflict Part 2)

This article looks at the value and danger of various negative emotions when it comes to resolving interpersonal conflict. This follows Part 1.

Each emotion has its own considerations and pitfalls. Negative emotions in particular are easily misunderstood. One’s first impulse can be to push them away, whether through denial or self-shaming. But negative feelings show us something is wrong, and can provide the motive towards resolving it. When tempered, understood, and balanced out, they are an essential part of finding resolutions.


Anger is one of the most common emotions in an interpersonal conflict. Whether it’s as rage, resentment, or annoyance, anger pushes back against some aspect of your reality. While it can seem unproductive, anger can also serve as fuel for resolution. We get angry because we want the situation to change!

So do not dismiss your anger. It has its own logic, validity, and purpose.

Anger can feel alarming. And while it can be short-sighted, it can also be fuel to point us towards a positive, fair, peaceful outcome.

Anger doesn’t have all the answers, though. It often presents us with easy answers, but these solutions are often blind to their true effect. They need to be balanced. Otherwise, you might end up causing harm to others. And that includes emotional harm.

Anger’s demands often amount to shortcuts. That does not mean that the anger loses its value. It just means you need a more comprehensive understanding of the situation.

Understanding Your Anger

Ask yourself: “What can I do to best support anger’s priorities while not causing harm?”

If you don’t know anger’s priorities, ask your anger what it wants. More often than not, it’ll tell you! Does it want them to shut up? Does it want them to apologize?

Whatever your anger wants, consider what positive feelings would come from getting what it wants. Often, anger just wants to feel okay. It wants harmony, or peace. For instance if it demands respect, think of what comes after the respect is achieved. Perhaps, relaxation?

You might not know a healthy way to support that underlying positive need right now. That’s okay. The first step is knowing that need. Next, ask your anger, “why do you need that?” Listen to what it has to say. There might be a story there. Maybe it’s been without peace, respect, or relaxation for a long time.

Next, ask your anger, “how can I give you your need?” Brainstorm with it. Maybe you need some time to yourself to rest and recover from a stressful situation. Maybe you need to talk it out with this person, but you’re afraid to. Whatever you come up with, make sure it’s in cooperation with your anger, not in opposition to it. You may butt heads, but there’s no need to lock it into a stalemate.

The Trap of Blame

There will be a temptation to blame the other person, to see an answer only in them taking action. Your anger might demand this. But that puts your power in the hands of another person. It leaves resolution, essentially, up to miraculous good will. It also introduces chaos, with which you’re probably already familiar! No one else ought to be solely responsible for your well-being. By continuing to blame, you keep unjust situations alive of your own will. It is for your own sake that you need to take responsibility. You need to look for what you can do to help yourself.

You may want to shout, “It’s their fault!”. But you must also be ready to ask, “Now, what can I do?”

Finding Balance when Angry

It’s also important to consider that sometimes anger can become so fierce that it blinds you to everything else. To see better in these moments, you may need to physically move to a new location. Consider basic needs. Do you need water, sleep, food? Since anger is often focused on what you can’t have, it’s important to consider what you can have. Breath, body, voice, time, food, positive relationships, or even just a walk to another room. By focusing on what you can have, you can take your power back without struggle and strife.


Each of us has our own set of behavioral standards. When we see others breaking with those standards, we can let it fuel our resentment. This in turn can keep us in a powerless place in a conflict.

When we’re self-righteous and focused on the other person, it’s easy to stay stuck. One way to move forward is to consider what our moral standard says about ourselves. What does it show us that we want in this conflict?

As hard as it is to accept, sometimes what someone likes or chooses is right for them. What matters to us is how we are affected by their choices. We might not want to be around their behavior. Or maybe something they’re doing is interfering with our lives. Judgment is essentially a symptom of poor boundaries. Thus, this emotion can help you see where you need to work on those boundaries.

Balancing Out Judgment with Understanding

Of course, judgment is not enough for defining boundaries. It advocates pushing people away, even those you might care about. You need understanding to balance it out.

Conflict between two people is a complicated situation. It involves the emotions, perceptions, and realities of two separate worlds. To properly navigate complex situations, you need information. Judgment can form a wall that blocks out the other person’s side of things. That information could make a key difference in how you would want to respond.

For example, let’s say that your friend who you regularly talk to has been silent with you for a week. You think “why would they do that? that’s rude.” You might want to tell them they should let you know when they’re going to be away for a while. That would “reinforce your boundary”, after all.

But what if you learned they actually had a sudden family emergency? Knowing this, you’d likely want to reply in empathy, and not demand as much. The issue would resolve and life would go on peacefully.

This is why you need not only understanding, but the humility to admit what you don’t know. Remain curious! There’s much to learn, and people’s realities might surprise you. At the very least, it helps you to make informed decisions.

How to Use Judgment for Good

That said, don’t shy away from the positive aspect of self-righteousness, either. We need to take its input on-board so we can discover our own boundaries.

Let’s go back to the previous example. Let’s say you ask your friend why they went silent, and they seem rather lazy and non-committal about it. Perhaps to them, remaining quiet was no big deal. Whether it’s right or not, the question still is: what do you want to do about it? They are revealing something about themselves that you need to adapt to.

Occasions like this might require you to dig deep. Maybe you have issues with abandonment. Maybe on some level you got attached to talking regularly, and you need to find a way to let go. Perhaps your inner child is hurt. Perhaps you just need space from the other person to figure out your own feelings. Find what you need, and act. But first, make sure you understand.

Fear of Vulnerability

There’s another aspect to judgment that can involve the fear of being vulnerable to others. Think about it: what happens when we think we’re morally superior to someone we feel vulnerable to? Doesn’t it give us a… minor boost in power? To feel superior pushes back against a sense of lost power. But this does not resolve a situation in a positive way. That’s why it’s more important to understand the situation, the feelings involved, and our boundaries. Superiority is a lesser win. We want pro-active, attentive action that understands and acts towards the well-being of all involved. Only then will moving forward feel truly right.


The message our sadness speaks is often one of change. It’s longing for something different. Awareness of sadness can lead us to an aspect of the situation that’s broken and needs fixing. Sadness is persistent, so finding a satisfactory direction is important.

While sadness does want things to be different, it has a sense of powerlessness towards actually attaining that outcome. It is a condition of many “if only”’s. “If only this person would be fair with me”, “if only they would acknowledge my feelings”, “if only I could find a solution that would make everything just go back to normal”. These sentiments can feel hopeless and useless for finding a resolution, but that’s not entirely true. Each “if only” highlights what you find important to preserve in the situation.

For instance, if your sadness says “if only they’d be fair with me”, this highlights two things. First, that you feel you’re being treated unfairly. Second, that whatever needs to change in the situation must uphold fairness, primarily towards yourself.

Alternatively, in the case of “if only things would go back to normal”, you likely feel chaos in the situation. What you really want here, is peace.

Find What Works

Thus, your sadness points towards something to uphold. But your sadness may cling onto one, singular way to uphold it. And that way is likely out of your control, gone, or lost. So, tough as it is, you need to look for other options. Ways to uphold what sadness values, but that can work.

What if you’re having trouble finding what works? Let’s say you know you value fairness, but can’t see how to get it. Consider these steps, replacing “fair” with whatever your value is:

  1. You can ask, “What is fair to me in this situation?”. List out your answers.
  2. Next consider, “Why can’t I have fairness?” You want to understand the obstacles in your way.
  3. Let’s say your answer is “because they won’t give it to me”, though. That doesn’t give you any options for moving forward. To get that, you want to ask, again, “Why?”. Keep asking questions, and flesh out your understanding of the situation.
  4. Eventually, you’ll see a way forward. Maybe it takes understanding the other person’s motivation. Why? Because knowing their motive can help you understand how to dialogue with them in a way that makes progress. Or, maybe your sadness just needs that understanding before it can let go and move on.

As much as sadness wants to lament the situation as it understands it, you need a way forward. Cultivate a greater understanding, and find a new way.

You want to also see how current choices may contribute to the situation. This is not to blame yourself or fuel self-punishment. Rather, it’s important to identify areas for change that you can proactively control. Our choices are under our control: whatever you choose, you can choose differently. This power to change choices is especially true when you’re aware of those choices.

The Dead-end of Self-pity

Self-pity is another thing that keeps sadness in place. When we act like we’re pitiful and powerless, we get this false promise of being saved by external forces. We believe the other could “take pity” on us, and thus give us what we want. But part of resolving a conflict is making sure both sides get what they want. Think long-term. If someone gave you something out of pity, does this make for a satisfactory relationship dynamic? By conceding to you, they are sacrificing their authenticity. They can’t work with you, and whatever “win” you get in that situation is a false one. It only serves you to be pitiful, and not well. You want to honor both individuals, otherwise you’re going down the road of isolation. Self-pity limits connection, and is essentially a dead-end when it comes to relationship conflicts.

Ask yourself: where do I feel I am pitiful? And then, what can I do to feel less pitiful? Asking these types of questions can help get you out of stagnation. You want to take responsibility for your feelings and hidden motivations. You want to step towards your power, moving forward, and finding resolution. Pity just keeps you stuck.

Overall, you want to make sure the values from your sadness take you somewhere. Keep those treasures, but find a way to move on. If you want joy in your life, you need to uphold the values you can be truly sad about missing. Sadness can lead us to new heights of happiness – we just need to learn how.


Fear locks us in. It binds our choices so we’re not able to externalize ourselves, connect, or be free. In a relationship conflict, fear often inspires us to shrink away from connection. This is because to fear it can seem like connection comes with pain, suffering, and threatened safety. These beliefs are often due to past relationship traumas, but they can also be learned. Regardless of source, fear tells us we are under attack.

There are many kinds of relationship threats. Maybe the other person is aggressive, or perhaps we’re just afraid to tell someone how we feel. The very idea of actions that interest us can feel scary. When this stops us from taking action, though, it can destroy relationships.

You need to treat fear carefully. But not with more fear! When we’re fearful, often what’s surfacing are the most visceral demands for safety inside ourselves. Imagine a fearful child. To calm them, you don’t demand courage from them or frighten them further. You reassure them, you gently teach them the nature of what they’re afraid of, and how they can be safe. It is like building a safe nest around a vulnerable egg. Bring your fear back to calm by keeping it warm, and showing it that things are safe.

Approaching your Fear

With fear, you need to acknowledge the dangers your fear keenly wants to avoid. Often in interpersonal conflict, this involves an escalation of conflict. We aren’t all experts in how to handle a volatile situation. We’re not always going to know how to avoid a blow-up from the other person. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to get better at it. And the best way to do that is to first work with your fear directly. Gently calm yourself down, make sure you aren’t going to get triggered as easily, before approaching the other.

Ask your fear: “what danger are you sensing?” Let’s say it’s that by speaking up, you’ll escalate the situation. You’ll want to figure out how you can say what you need to, then, but without causing said escalation. Maybe when you talk to the other person, you acknowledge their wants and needs first. That way, they feel heard, and are less likely to rage.

What does your fear think about your ideas? Let your fear protest to this process. Let it be a dialogue. You want both your fear and you to feel good about the decision you make. Maybe you’ll need to make plans for if things do go wrong. Maybe your plan truly is too dangerous, and you need your fear’s help to make changes.

It may seem a little odd to externalize your fear like this. But it’s important because you don’t want to confuse your fear with you. You have in you the will to move forward, and you need that voice to be strong and distinct. And you also have a desire for safety, which can help you feel stable down your chosen path.

A No-Avoidance Mindset

Remember too that ignoring or denying the conflict is one way fear tries to get away with resolving it. This leads to isolation, bitterness, and a dissatisfaction with the outcome. For instance if someone is abusing their power over you, it might be incredibly scary to stand up to them. But think about if you take no action. You’re ignoring the conflict, and you’re still getting abused! Do not let fear isolate you and perpetuate a situation that you know needs to change.


When we’re in a conflict with someone, quite often we get confused on some level. While our own behavior may make sense to us, someone else’s might not. This confusion can cause a lot of distress while looking for a way to respond a situation full of unknowns.

In your individual situation, what questions do you need answered? Consider them one at a time – try not to overwhelm yourself. You can even write a list of your questions, and look at the most important ones first.

How do you find good answers to these questions? The way be diverse, but as a general rule you want to feel out your answers. Your feelings can tell you the truth of the situation, or even piece it together by tracing around its edges.

Feeling Out The Truth

Let’s take an example. Say someone who’s normally pretty friendly to you was, one day, quite rude. They answered your question in a snappy way, and didn’t talk to you for the rest of the day. You might wonder, “What did I do wrong?”, and shrink away from the person, avoiding interaction.

But let’s say you feel things out. You may get a dialogue like this: “Well, I don’t think I did anything wrong. Really, I’m only confused about their behavior. I want them to treat me nicely, but I know I don’t control them. Their motive is unknown to me, so maybe there’s something out of the ordinary going on with them. Usually they like treating others in a friendly way, so maybe they also feel bad about what they did. I know it might be they’re getting sensitive after going through an unknown issue in their lives. I can ask them about it, gently, to find out more. Maybe I’ll ask if they’re doing okay, and say what I notice in their behavior. If I show concern, it isn’t confrontational.”

Eventually, you arrive at a feeling of satisfaction. You’re set to ask questions in a way that feels right, and you’re not making assumptions.

This is what I mean by answering your own questions. A question is only the tip of the iceberg, and it’s up to you to explore the rest. Curiosity and openness are your allies. We are confused by the things we do not understand, and we do not understand because we cannot see. So, go looking.

Confusion, then, is extremely valuable in the sense that it provides motivation to look for greater understanding – to learn. In an interpersonal conflict, confusion is showing you that by learning, you might find your resolution.


That wraps up the discussion of the negative emotions during times of interpersonal conflict. Next, we’ll be talking about the positive emotions, and what you need to consider.

Click here for Part 3

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Resolving Interpersonal Conflicts through Emotional Awareness – Part 1

Our conflicts with other people can stir up all sorts of emotions. Resolving these interpersonal conflicts requires that we navigate our own emotional turmoil. In these types of complex situations, our emotional responses can be mixed. We can feel anger mixed with caution, resentment mixed with regret, impatience mixed with understanding. So how do we work with our emotions, and move towards what’ll help us resolve a conflict?

Look at Yourself First

Conflict is one of those situations where you can feel compelled to look at the other person first. After all, they’re the one “causing the problems”! But it’s not as simple as figuring out who’s at fault. In the life’s complexities, settling a conflict to deep satisfaction is more nuanced than labeling who is guilty or innocent. Our rage, our self-righteousness, and even our sadness, may not be settled by such a simple outcome.

In order to address how we feel in a conflict, we must address our feelings. A conflict with another can cause turmoil within, and it is indeed this turmoil that pushes us towards resolution. Ultimately, we want to feel better.

A situation where we’re in conflict with someone else, though, can evoke a lot of complicated responses. There are unknowns in the other person’s motives. They might trigger our sensitivities and bring up strong feelings. The choices we consider, to find resolution, might fill us with fear, and we might be unable to act. On top of it, we might love the other person and that itself might cause us doubt ourselves.

This type of complex situation requires a nuanced approach. And yes, we could talk to or confront the other person right away. But even then, the outcome depends a lot upon the approach. Good approaches must be crafted within, and they must resonate with our selves. Through careful listening to our feelings and working with them, we can make powerful, effective choices in these kinds of situations.

Our Emotional Reality

Each emotion can push us to act. Yet, if we act too soon, the results can feel terrible. If we act in anger, we might end up saying things we regret. If we act in fear, we might let others step over our boundaries.

Now, positive emotions can also be harmful to react to. If we only act from compassionate desire to understand, we may neglect our own interests and prolong the conflict. If we only act from hopefulness, we might dismiss the other’s concerns and actually escalate things.

Only when we consider all our emotions and their interests can we find a balanced solution. We want to find a way to engage that is healthy and giving, yet also assertive, courageous, and communicative. The starting point is our own emotional awareness.

Example of why you need to look within to resolve interpersonal conflicts. Complex, conflicting emotions arise that need to be worked within.
Conflicts with other people aren’t always straightforward, and often this is because of our own emotionally complex responses. But by working with our emotions, we can learn and grow in our capacity to engage with others in a healthy way!

Consider Your Own Conflict

Think of a situation in your life where you have a conflict with another individual. Maybe they get on your nerves, or maybe there’s a more overt conflict between you both.

What is the first feeling that comes up? Hold it in your awareness while you feel it intensely, taking no action.

Then, consider a second feeling, and a third and so on, feeling each.

It might help to write down your feelings, maybe elaborate as to why you feel those things. How are those feelings in conflict with each other?

Finding Balance

One of the main difficulties of resolving interpersonal conflicts is when we get stuck in one particular feeling or another. A singular perspective like this, blown out of proportion, can obstruct your ability to find true resolution. We can get stuck, feel powerless, and imagine that the resolution is only in someone else’s hands. When we do that, we can feel self-righteous and justified in our blame. But it’s important to recognize that, through blame, we are actually putting ourselves in a disempowered position. Self-righteousness is not empowerment – it’s an indication of the exact opposite.

The dis-empowering nature of single-mindedness is why it’s important to cultivate an attitude of being mindful of the complex nature of our feelings. When we look for resources inside our feelings, we open up pathways that, otherwise, we might not have seen.

Getting Stuck

But let’s say you bring all your feelings to the surface, feel them, and look at why you feel those ways – what if it still seems unworkable? All these considerations might sometimes leave you feeling like you’re no closer to any new choices, and you might end up feeling rotten and like you can’t do anything about the situation.

In Parts 2 and 3, we’ll look at working with a variety of common feelings that can come up when you’re resolving your interpersonal conflicts, and how you can transform those feelings into empowering choices.

Click here for Part 2 – Understanding the Negative Emotions

Click here for Part 3 – Understanding the Positive Emotions

Note from Oliver: Hi everyone! It’s been a while – I’ve been experiencing life in many ways, and haven’t felt inclined towards writing articles for some time. However! I feel like I want to get back into it, and to take inspiration from others! If there’s any topics you’d like me to cover, please leave a comment with the idea! I want to make sure that the things I bring up are relevant to everyone.

The Ways of Living with Openness and Calmness (Abstract Speed Paint Video)

The following video is a project that I made over the past week, that combines art, music, and a talk on the place of calmness and openness within one’s life. Some of my piano music is set against timelapse video of me working on an art piece called “The Jagged Love of Imagination”. On top of that is my narration, which delves into how openness allows us to receive, dance, and flow with life, while calm can enable our ability to perceive the truth with greater patience and clarity, as well as how both relate to the ego. Enjoy!

Learning Spirituality From Your Own Inner World

I recently had an article published on Sivana East, a spirituality blog. The article is an examination of the topic of spirituality, and how one can develop a personal spirituality through nurturing a relationship with one’s inner world.

So go check it out! It’s at

Take care –

Introducing Coaching for The World Within

I’m pleased to announce that I am now offering personal coaching for those of you wanting to dive deeper into your own inner worlds. With coaching, you’ll be able to work with me 1-on-1, and get first-hand practice and guidance with the techniques, methods, and knowledge that can empower you in how you handle your inner life.

More info here:

All of us can have issues that plague us, and questions that linger at the backs of our minds. By employing techniques of self-awareness and expression, you can gain the edge you need to understand and transform on the deepest levels of yourself, as you grapple with questions of purpose, identity, wants vs needs, longing, direction in life, and more.

Things like inner peace, playfulness, bliss, and wonder do not have to linger on in absence from life, nor do they have to be gained through repression. There are real answers within yourself, and it’s my hope that with coaching, just like with this website, I can help you find them. And more than just answers, I hope I can help you find new places, new horizons in your life – places of possibility and abundance that you never thought you could go.

I have 8 years of practice working with my own inner world and through all manner of issues that have come up in my emotional life in that time. And I’m excited to share all I’ve learned in a more direct way with whoever is interested.

If you have any questions, please feel free to send them to me via the contact form on the coaching page linked above.

All the best,

Letting Go and Sincere Living

Letting go is an art form. It requires releasing your attachments, and thus, what you want. You have to open yourself up, be vulnerable, patient, and quiet inside. With letting go, you can’t have what you want, but you can have much, much more.

The Toxic Nature of Wanting

When we obsess over goals and wants, we can become blind to the internal conditions we’re in and that we’re trying to avoid them. By letting go, we let in the moment and all the feelings that are a part of it.

When you want something, it isn’t present, and this identified lack becomes a focus and a driving motivation for all action to obtain said desire. Even if you are an ethical person, you still look for a way to meet all your standards for ethics while still obtaining your desire.

Yet, all the while, as you travel to your destination, there is a sense of lack, a sense of things not being right. Maybe when you hit progress goals, then you get a little boost of happiness, but it can easily subside into more dissatisfaction. You want things to be better. There’s still more lack.

So why is this toxic? Because it avoids the present. If you notice how you are in the present, you can see the manic states, the lack of peace, the impatience, the annoyance, the pride, and even the spitefulness towards perceived obstacles in your way. You become embittered and embattled, stressed and straining. You end up hanging your hopes on progress towards a non-present goal, and all this takes up your time as again and again you pursue it. You can even end up basing your worth on how close you are to a goal. This is a toxic place to live in, and no matter how much you pace yourself, at the very least, attachment to a goal leads you out of the present moment, and things are going to fall through the cracks.

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