Monday, February 24, 2014

Resolving Disputes with Loved Ones

There are four major categories of emotions: sad, mad, glad, and scared. Any time we have a strong reaction, it will be based in one or more of these.

Tennis balls with happy and sad faces

It happens to even the most patient of us: A loved one, be it your partner, a child, or a friend, does something that irks you. Your hackles raise and you give them a piece of your mind. Unfortunately, instead of creating resolution you end up with an even bigger mess on your hands. Looking back you wonder, “How did I get here?” Here are some tips to reframe your conversation and improve your odds of smoothing things out.

Often in our rush to try to communicate our frustration we end up blaming the other person for the situation, which only results in defensiveness. Instead, try to take ownership of your emotions. There are four major categories of emotions: sad, mad, glad, and scared. Any time we have a strong reaction, good or bad, it will be based in one or more of these. When we identify and own our emotions it empowers us, and when we share our emotions, it allows others to engage their empathy, fostering connection rather than distancing themselves.

Now, this is not as easy as it may seem. All of us know how to start a sentence with “I feel like,” but most of us twist this into a form of accusation, amounting to little more than “I feel like you shouldn’t do that.” Don’t use the word “feel” as a way to try to give credence to your opinions. Stay grounded in your own experience rather than trying to control others people’s actions and you are much more likely to find a win-win resolution.

— By Maeghan Culver, naturopathic doctor and resident at Bastyr Center for Natural Health.

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