Whenever you’re in conflict with someone,

there is one factor that can make the difference between

damaging your relationship and deepening it.

That factor is attitude.

William James

I have recently returned from a family funeral. It is always good to see most of our relatives, but there are always those few who seem locked in some mysterious turmoil or battle, They are still fighting and stewing over something that happened 10, 20, 50+ years ago.

Conflict is never an easy thing to deal wit. But those old, deeply rooted conflicts that enter our lives can really affect you body, mind and spirit. When you allow a past conflict to stew and become a defining part of a relationship, it becomes very challenging to move forward. But it is not impossible. You just have to find the right conflict resolution approach.

Open heart and open mind

Many times a past conflict can be resolved by simply looking at it with a fresh, and a calmer perspective. When you begin to learn how to look at a past conflict without it raising your blood pressure or causing you to lose a night’s sleep, you will be much more likely to find an amicable resolution.

The first thing you must do is to look at the conflict as objectively as possible. You need to raise all of the issues on your mind, but you must always remember to be respectful. Actively listen to the other person, then ask that they also respect you by doing the same for you. Remember to focus steadfastly on the problem at hand, and not on the person or their personality. Personal attacks have never solved anything! If you find that you are having a difficult time communicating, engaging a third-party can help mediate the discussion so that all parties can be equally heard.

Mutual interests

Use your mutual interests and concerns as a beginning point. For example, if you were fighting with a sibling over a parent’s estate, perhaps what you both really want is to ensure that the estate was divided as fairly and as balanced as possible. Go forward from this point of mutual interest and understanding so that you start at a place where you both agree.


Brainstorm to come up with resolutions that everyone can agree on. Conflict usually occurs when one or both parties sense some inequality or inequities. So try getting together and brainstorm a few ideas that will help you resolve the conflict. You may find that you are actually building on each other’s ideas. This is a good thing! The goal is to come to a point of resolution that provides mutual gain.

Set standards

Start creating mutually-agreed upon standards of how things will be going forward, and then create all of your agreements based on these standards. This will help to ensure that you will not stumble offer the same obstacles in the future. By setting specific standards, everyone will be able to communicate in the most respectful and effective manner, and move forward.

Accept the things you cannot change

Everyone has heard the old adage that we should accept the things that we cannot change, but this is often much easier said than it is done. When it comes to past conflicts you must always seek to resolve them first. If you cannot resolves them then you cannot go forward. How do you accept those things?

Give up that which you cannot control

When you give up trying to control what is clearly uncontrollable, suddenly the stress of dealing with the conflict dissolves into vapor. You will feel like a mountain has been lifted off of your shoulders and you may find that you have a whole new outlook on life, the conflict, and the person or people involved with it.

Share what you are feeling

When you are feeling angry, hurt or upset, try sharing your feelings with a trusted friend or family member. It becomes much easier to move past conflicts when you have sounding boards at your disposal. You do not necessarily have to talk to someone who was involved in the conflict, but you do need to be able to share your feelings openly and honestly. By getting it out of your mind and off your chest, you will be able to find peace within your heart.

Look for the positives

There is always something positive that can come from every situation. Even the from the most bitter of conflicts. For example, if nothing else, you will learn the value and importance of communication, interpersonal relationships, or forgiveness, depending on the situation. When you can find something positive about a past situation you will find that coping with conflict is a bit easier.


When you can begin to focus on forgiveness, the pain associated with conflict will disappear. By forgiving, you release all parties, including yourself from the burden of staying locked in battle or imprisoned by hate. We all make mistakes from time to time. When you realize that we live in an imperfect world it will be much easier to let go of the hurt, the feelings and the anger associated with the conflict.

It is very easy to stew and brew over past hurts, slights and conflicts. But, you owe so much more to yourself than to stand still in time. Try and or all of these tips.

Figure out how to make it right or how to let go, and move on!


Photo Credit: Tambako the Jaguar via Compfight cc