Is inner conflict holding you hostage? Often when we are in conflict it’s hard to make a decision without feeling you are settling in some way. Inner conflict often makes us doubt ourselves and makes us feel sluggish. It occurs when our emotions, thoughts and personal values are out of alignment. Or, looking at it another way, when our head, heart and spirituality are misaligned.
Sometimes we choose to behave in a different way to our natural ability in order to succeed and over time we become misaligned. A client recently remarked how he thought he had learned to become an introvert because of his career. However, as he was maturing, he felt he identified more with being extrovert. Needless to say this awareness led colleagues to become concerned about his welfare as he had started to demonstrate more extroverted behaviours in the office. To them he was ‘acting out of character’. Interesting choice of words!
There are many different types of inner conflict. You may feel you were destined for greater things but the job security you have keeps you playing small. You may know you need to end a relationship, but you keep talking yourself out of it. You may know you need to start saving but you love the thrill of online shopping. Whatever the inner conflict is, it could be holding you back from a happy, healthy life.
1. Identify and confront inner conflicts
It’s hard to address an inner conflict if you aren’t fully aware of it. However, identifying and being aware of inner conflict can be challenging. If it was easy, you would have already identified and dealt with it. Often, it’s easier to stay unaware because then there is no need for confrontation, let alone a decision which could be uncomfortable.
The problem is, when you ignore your inner conflicts, they simply grow and get worse over time. To start identifying your inner conflicts, write down what you want and the things that are holding you back. Then, dig a little deeper, and try and understand where it comes from. What’s the inner conflict? For example, is it coming from a place of fear or comfort? Often, we fall into ruts or routines because it is our mind’s way of protecting us.
2.Balance your rationale and emotions with values
To address inner conflict, you need to be able to review and hold your rational thoughts and emotions side by side, so that both sides can inform your decision. If you tend to focus more on your emotional needs and desires, your decisions will be based on how you feel and a desire to feel better. Similarly, if you focus more on your rational thoughts, with pros and cons, you’re likely to make a decision you have no buy-in to. In these situations, I guide clients back to first principles, their personal values. Generally, we are guided by 3 key values; and I encourage clients to familiarize themselves with what they are. Being Familiar with your personal values provides grounding to decisions when the next step is murky and filled with fear. To make the best choice for yourself, learn how to balance reason and emotions with your personal values.
3. Avoid making rash decisions
When you are going through an emotional time, be sure not to make any rash decisions. How will you know if they’re rash? You may want to enlist the support of someone who knows you well or a professional so they can sense check or provide a process, so you do consider the issue fully. Before making a decision it is key you consider what is best for you, without forgetting the impact your decision will have on others.
It’s easy to make rash decisions when you are dealing with inner conflict. It helps the uncomfortable or highly charged feelings dissipate. However, staying calm and thinking things through methodically is going to lead to a better decision.
4. Consider what you really want
What is it you really want? Often our inner conflict comes from not expressing our needs and desires, leaving us to create situations we’d rather not be in. If you are trying to please everyone else, you are only going to end up feeling miserable and short-changed. So, if you feel like you aren’t being true to yourself, take a step back. Think about what you truly want, how you want to feel, be experienced and have. Then let others know. Once you have clarity, you can focus your energy on that.
5. Delight in the moments
Finally, being mindful is a great way to address inner conflict. It enables you to listen to your body wisdom and helps to untangle your tangled thoughts. Mindfulness provides the environment for the inputs (emotions, thoughts & personal values) to come forward in a gentle way. Providing clarity on the issues and potential solutions to them. It may take a while to get used to being in the moment and listening to yourself, but you’ll find it easier the more you practice.
These are some of the best ways to address inner conflict when you notice they exist. If you want to live an authentic life where you can focus your energy towards more rewarding activities, I encourage you to recognize and deal with the inner conflicts as and when they arise.
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