Conflict situations often arouse anxiety in many people. Therefore, you tend to be silent or give in to others. In the long run, this behavior damages general well-being.
Is it difficult for you to complain when someone has been unfair to you? Is it impossible for you to say “no” for fear of what they think of you? If you answered yes to these questions, you are probably afraid of conflict.
People with this characteristic tend to experience a lot of anguish in conflict situations, therefore, they try to avoid them at all costs. However, the perpetuation of this behavior ends up compromising physical and mental health. If you want to know more details and how to overcome it, we invite you to continue reading.
What is the fear of conflict?
The fear of conflict consists of the experience of discomfort, anxiety or horror at the possibility of questioning or contradicting others. People with this problem tend to be silent or give in before expressing their opinion.
In general, they are people who fear losing the affection of others, being rejected, falling badly or being violated. Consequently, when they do not feel comfortable or do not agree with those around them, they are unable to express any ideas that contradict them.
This attitude is characteristic of people who are not very assertive. Not knowing how to adequately express their discomfort, they prefer to flee.
In the short term, this way of reacting can appear effective. However, conflict avoidance does not create peace of mind. The discomfort remains and builds up to cause more severe problems.
What are your causes?
Fear of conflict is usually cultivated in childhood, a stage in which the first emotional ties are developed. It is important to bear in mind that the circumstances that allow the unfolding of this problem vary from person to person. Triggers are multiple and are made up of personality traits, heredity, life experiences, parenting styles, and socialization.
However, it is possible to identify some causal patterns. For example, people who attend therapy with this problem tend to have received an affection that is highly conditioned to compliance with the norms and expectations of their parents. That is, when they were children they learned that if they fulfilled what was expected of them, then they would receive love.
In this way, to be rewarded, these children try to be good, fulfilling norms and expectations that the adults close to them have. But the most serious thing is that, in parallel, they develop anguish at the possibility of being bad. They will believe that they will be rejected if they do not achieve what is expected of them.
Another scenario that fear of conflict can cultivate is when parenting takes place in a conflictive family environment. That is, when family members argue constantly and in the presence of the little one.
How does the fear of conflict affect us?
The fear of conflict makes us avoid them at all costs. Avoidance can work for a while, but the discomfort, frustration and anger that this generates stays with us. These repressed feelings turn into tensions.
Imagine a balloon that is filled with air. This one has a limit. When it accumulates excess air it bursts. That’s how we are when we shut up and give in.
That said, it is common for release to occur through somatization. In this case, the body will be in charge of expressing those emotions that were not verbalized. Therefore, recurring health problems will occur, such as the following:
Gastritis and ulcers.
On the other hand, we can also respond with violent outbursts of anger, especially with those closest to us. In this case, it is to be expected that we will lose control and aggressively lash out at others.
This second scenario usually generates a lot of guilt. In addition, it can reinforce the belief that others will abandon us if we express what we feel or think. A vicious circle of complacency is created.
Finally, the act of being silent and constantly giving in to the needs of others distances us from ourselves and hinders the ability to identify our feelings and needs. We can even be very dependent on the criteria of the other.
That is, we will want to be what others expect us to be. The consequences of this attitude are the following:
Difficulty making decisions.
How to face this fear
Many people who are afraid of conflict are aware that keeping quiet and giving in is not okay. And they know it because it causes them a deep discomfort. However, it is impossible for them to complain or express any ideas.
As we have already said, it is usually a problem that is acquired in childhood, therefore, it tends to be a complicated process to reverse. It will be necessary to dismantle the web of beliefs and emotions that were forming around the conflict.
This is not achieved overnight. Many of these beliefs even move in an unconscious register and require the person to be aware of them in order to work on them.
Additionally, other issues such as low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression may need to be addressed. Therefore, the best way to overcome this fear is by attending psychotherapy. The professional will offer the necessary tools.
Conflict as an opportunity to progress
A good way to deal with the fear of conflict is by assuming it is necessary. Well, they represent an opportunity to end situations that cannot be perpetuated.
In addition, they give space for dialogue, consensus, negotiation and the integration of different points of view. This is what makes the progress of humanity possible. If the conflict did not exist, then there would be no reforms to improve social, work, family and relationship conditions.