How an Introvert Handles Conflict

Nasher Sculpture Museum, Dallas, Texas

Conflict is inevitable even in healthy relationships. Embracing conflict in marriage is not always easy, especially for an introvert like me.

I hate confrontation and I would always prefer to say nothing than to converse about disagreements or hurt feelings.

Naturally, I am more of a thinker than a talker. However, as I have gotten older, I have realized that I cannot always operate this way. People will never know what you want them to know unless you tell them.

I’m not sure if I ever learned how to properly deal with conflict, which would help explain why I hate it, but I sure am learning now. Marriage is good at teaching it.

One of the many lessons that I’m learning is that there is a difference between visiting an island and being an island. Visiting an island means taking time out for yourself to clear your mind, reflect, or recharge. Being an island means isolating yourself, building walls, and keeping your guards up.

Sometimes, I am able to instantly face a disagreement, speak my mind, and talk it out with the other person. Other times, I simply shut down and don’t want to talk about anything at all. I become an island.

There were a couple of days last week which consisted of me being an island. I was upset about a conversation between my husband and me and we were trying to resolve the misunderstanding.

Instead of acknowledging that I needed time to calm down, think, and approach with a different perspective, I basically put up walls blocking the flow of communication.

Ultimately, I thought about what I was doing and the impact it could have on our marriage. I had to consciously make the decision to stop being the island.

A few ways to help change an isolated mindset to an open mindset:

1.State your emotions. It’s easier to deal with a feeling when you give it a name. Organize the thoughts within yourself. “I am upset because-,” “I am afraid of-,” “I am worried that-“. Conflict is handled better when the people are transparent and the issues are clear.

2.Think about gratefulness. When I think of the multiple reasons for why I am grateful, my mood starts to shift from negative to positive. You may start to feel like the conflict is not as big of a deal as you initially thought. Your mind may open to hear other points of view and to reach better conclusions.

3. Ginger your mind. Listen to uplifting music or watch a heartwarming movie. Feed your mind with positivity. Sad songs and movies may just feel right, but by deliberately choosing otherwise, you can give your mind a chance to breathe and reevaluate later.

If you’re in a relationship with someone prone to silence, try to remind them that you are there for them, have patience while they visit their island, encourage them to come back.

I think I’m gradually becoming better at dealing with conflict. Through marriage, I’m constantly reminded that I am not going through life alone. Another human being of his own free will has chosen to live life with me and it’s a blessing. We will have some conflict along the way, but it will not destroy us.

Have you ever seen Castaway? It didn’t seem like Tom Hanks had much fun on that island. Let’s not be that island.

How do you deal with conflict?

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