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23 Tips for Turning Conflict into Peace

I hope your holidays are filled with love and laughter. I bless you with inner peace that glows from your heart.

Unfortunately, holidays are not merry and bright for everyone. I’ve written this article to help people who struggle at this time of the year. However, you can apply these skills 365 days a year.

• Have loved ones passed on? Has there been a divorce or a relationship break-up? Are you still grieving?

• Are there conflicts in your family? Do you try to put on a happy face, but inside you brace against the next insensitive comment?

• Do family members refuse to come together because there is too much pain?

• Is there sickness?

Many people experience one or more of these situations. I want to extend my compassion to those of you who suffer during the holidays. When everything is supposed to happy, we may experience even deeper pain because we are hurting.

Here are 23 suggestions to help you develop inner peace and manage conflict.

1. First, choose to develop inner peace. You don’t have to know how to do it or even be good at it. Just choose it. Ask God to help you. Make a commitment to develop personal mastery even if your mother criticizes you. As a metaphor, if you want to become a black belt karate master, you begin with a white belt. Over time and with lots of practice, you develop high level skills.

2. Notice when you first begin to get upset. Don’t wait for the pressure to build up. It will be more difficult to manage. Observe yourself. Does your voice get edgy? Do you want to fight back? Do you emotionally withdraw? Do you get heady instead of being heart-centered? Do you breathe shallowly? Do your muscles tighten up? That’s what happens when we feel threatened.

3. Take a time-out to center yourself. Soothe your nervous system. It needs help because it went into hyper-arousal when you felt threatened. Our natural reactions are fight, flight or freeze. You might want to excuse yourself and go to the bathroom for some privacy. Or, go for a walk. Take a few deep breaths. Inhale to the count of four. Hold your breath to the count of four, and exhale to the count of eight.

If you go for a walk, count 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 etc. with every step you take. Breathe into your heart center and imagine your favorite beautiful place in nature.

4. Focus your attention on the people who love you and support you. Breathe that love into your heart. Place an imaginary protective bubble around yourself that envelops you and all the people who support you.

5. Ask for spiritual guidance from God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit or however you conceptualize your spiritual support. Don’t just complain. Open your mind and listen to what God wants to communicate to you. Write it down if you can. It will sink in better. God will have a hard time getting through to you if you don’t ask for help. God gives you free will and waits to be invited into your heart and mind.

6. Have compassion for the part of you who struggles. If you try to be tough and stuff your emotions, you’re in effect telling a hurt part of yourself that it is unloved. I often think of this as my inner child. None of us like feeling unloved and neither do our inner family members.

Find the inner family member who feels hurt or angry or scared. Invite them to share their innermost feelings with you. You have a nurturing parent inside of you and the Holy Spirit who is compassionate. Listen to the pain of the inner child. Be empathetic. Ask your inner wise self and God for comfort. This process develops emotional and spiritual intimacy within your internal family. This will help you feel centered again.

You can experience inner peace no matter how others respond to you.

7. Remember, anger often covers up hurt, fear or a sense of rejection. If you lead with your anger or emotional distance, you’ll pull for defensiveness from others. If you lead with your softer feelings, you’ll pull for empathy. I know that’s challenging, but that’s what personal mastery looks like.

8. Take responsibility for your own emotional reactions. Don’t blame others. What arises from within you is the material from your own psyche. It’s your stuff. Own it.

I know it’s tempting to blame others and get angry with them when they don’t behave the way you want them to. You feel more powerful when you’re angry or stoic. But this is not the way to genuine empowerment, nor is it the way to inner peace. It perpetuates the cycle of suffering within yourself and your family.

9. You don’t have control over changing other’s reactions. Accept that. All you can do is take responsibility for returning yourself to inner peace.

10. When there’s a conflict, don’t get quiet or blow up. After you center yourself, apologize for anything you can take responsibility for.

11. Reach out to repair the relationship breach. Begin with a soft sincere voice and look directly into the other person’s eyes.

12. Tell your family member something positive … how much they mean to you … or give them a sincere compliment. Affirm them. That helps build an emotional attachment.

13. Tell them what is hurtful to you. Speak about your own emotions. Share the interpretations you made and check them out for accuracy. Don’t assume you are right. Get feedback and keep an open mind. Don’t analyze the other person and make them wrong. People tend to get defensive when you do that.

14. Invite them to share their feelings. Listen to understand.

15. Unless they have lots of training in communication skills, they may not take personal responsibility or listen well. Have compassion. They are doing the best they can. Listen for the heart of their pain.

16. Empathize and validate their feelings whenever you can. You don’t have to agree with them. Don’t argue about the facts and stay in your head. Express that you genuinely care about their pain.

17. After several interchanges, hopefully, your hearts will be more connected. Ask: “What can I do to support you right now?” Listen to understand.

18. Make a promise to help lessen their pain. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Do what you can.

19. Ask this question if you feel it is appropriate: “Would you like to know what you can do to support me right now?” Develop warmth and caring first.

20. Offer concrete specific suggestions. Focus on creating solutions rather than continuing to complain.

21. You may not do any of this perfectly. Do what you can. Start with one small step. Which suggestion do you want to start with? Practice that one thing.

22. Remind yourself of your goals. Put a post-it note on your bathroom mirror, your desk or your car dashboard. Set alarms on your smartphone. Choose a picture that symbolizes your goal and set it as wallpaper on your phone or computer. Make a sign and hang it on the door as you exit your house.

23. Be compassionate with yourself when you fail. Be compassionate with others. We all carry pain, and we don’t always know how to express it in the wisest way. Practice, practice, practice. That’s what it takes to move from a white belt to a black belt karate master.

Well, there you have it. I’ve given you two blueprints. One to manage your emotional reactivity and one to repair relationship breaches. I know it’s easier said than done. It takes practice just like anything else. The more you do it, the better you’ll get at it.

Blessings to you for inner peace, wisdom and love.

Warmly,
Benita A Esposito, MA, Licensed Professional Counselor 

Would you like to improve your conflict management skills and experience more inner peace? Video and audio conferences are available worldwide. In-person visits and intensive retreats take place in Georgia, USA. Ask for a complimentary 10-minute phone interview to see if we are a good fit. Complete the contact form on either of my websites:

www.SensitiveIntrovert.com

www.Flourishing-Lives.com

Watch these videos:
Click here to watch the video about my bestselling book: The Gifted Highly Sensitive Introvert, Wisdom for Emotional Healing and Expressing Your Radiant Authentic Self.

Click here to learn about research by Dr. John Gottman on what makes masters and disasters of marriage.
“Four Horsemen: Don’t Let Them Ruin Your Marriage.”

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Why We Think We Shouldn’t Be Needy

by Benita A. Esposito, MA, Licensed Professional Counselor

“In insecure relationships, we disguise our vulnerabilities so our partner never really sees us.” ―Sue Johnson, Love Sense: The Revolutionary New Science of Romantic Relationships

 

Do you judge yourself for being needy? Well, I did for the longest time. Read more

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Tired of Conflict?

Whether it’s with your spouse or your mother, if you don’t already experience an emotionally secure connection, even little conflicts can damage the relationship. Read more

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Deep Emotional Healing Retreat

This Semi-Private Retreat has a maximum of six people.

Unresolved emotional wounds decrease your self-esteem, self-confidence, and ability to create healthy personal and professional relationships. Even though you are successful on the outside, you may feel empty inside … a lack of wholeness … little inner peace.

You may have experienced emotional, physical or sexual abuse. You may have experienced the anguish that comes from having an emotionally distant parent.

You may yearn for intimacy, but be afraid of it at the same time. You may attract emotionally unavailable people. You may not know how to effectively communicate to resolve conflicts so that your personal and professional relationships flourish. Your intimate relationship may suffer because you cannot be as emotionally close or as sexually open as you would like.

The part of your brain that tries to protect you might have become stuck in survival mode: fight, flight or freeze. This can generate a number of symptoms including anxiety, depression, chronic worry, self-sabotage, pessimism, procrastination, OCD, substance abuse, and emotional eating.

LkChtg 7Apr12

Lake Chatuge. Photo by Benita Esposito

The Promise of the Retreat:  You’ll experience rigorous yet gentle leadership tailored to your unique learning style to ensure your success. You’ll receive insights so compelling that you will naturally flow into effective action instead of getting bogged down in self-defeating patterns. You’ll be in a safe place so you can allow Love to flood you, heal you and release wave after wave of creativity. Bask in the sweetness of spiritual intimacy, drawing ever closer to the Divine, the source of all healing. Your transformational journey will be accelerated in this beautiful Nature setting: the Blue Ridge Mountains overlooking Lake Chatuge.

When: View the retreat schedule for current dates.

Where: Young Harris, GA. Enjoy the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains overlooking Lake Chatuge.

Breathwork is the primary activity of the day. It helps you access memory, emotion and spirituality in a profound way.

Click on the following links to learn more about what happens in breathwork:

Breathwork Q&A.wisdom-of-crowds-control

Breathwork Testimonials: Relationships, self-esteem, physical healings, career success.

2 Client Stories about their Breathwork experiences in our Annual Florida Beach Retreat

Healing Abuse. In Susan’s Breathwork, God showed her where the abuse pattern started: at conception.

Healing Trauma of an abortion and open-heart surgery.

Healing an Eating Disorder. This client was not focusing on healing her eating disorder. It occurred as a side-benefit.

Reserve your seat now. This small intimate retreat consists of 6 people.  A minimum of 3 private sessions are required before attending this retreat. Participation is by invitation only. Complete the Contact Form for a complementary 10-minute interview.

NOTE: If you are allergic to cats, please let me know. I have one cat who will not be in our meeting space if it is a problem for you.

Cupids Falls, Young Harris, GA

Cupids Falls, Young Harris, GAReserve your seat now.

Retreat FAQs

TESTIMONIALS

“I had never really even entertained the idea of doing a retreat. Scared me to death. Once my spirit decided it was the place to be, then it was so powerful that I had to surrender. So far it’s been one life changing experience after another. Right now I am flying. Can you tell? I mean high! I feel like running up this path barefooted if I have to.” – V.S., Psychotherapist

Last night while soaking in the hot tub, I had a mental slideshow of past retreats and how transformative they’ve been for me.  For many years there’s been a deep ache inside of me because my father didn’t affirm me. This unresolved pain caused great difficulty with my romantic relationships. During the breathwork session at the last retreat, while I was in a dreamy state, I appeared as a radiant bride and my Dad finally gave me the adoration I have wanted all my life. Now six months later, I still feel the love that was planted in me during that retreat. What a priceless journey, worth more than gold!  – T.H, Realtor, Health Coach

“By working with Benita Esposito over the last eight years in one-on-one and in group settings, I have deeply explored the outer reaches of consciousness, and the inner depths of my body-mind-soul-emotions. Via strong empathetic connection with me, Benita has intuitively coached me through issues so I can create healthy personal and business relationships. I benefit most from group retreats where there is a mixture of people’s energies. The extended time to work on things is crucial to digging deep and making major changes, while the beautiful Nature settings give me the soothing arena I need to process the experiences. Jump at the chance to be involved in a retreat as often as possible. It is an honor and a privilege to have Benita as the co-creator of my true destiny and my journey towards my Authentic Self.”  ~ L.S., Software Engineer

Lodging:  click here for a list of hotels.

Facilitator: Benita A. Esposito, MA, Licensed Professional Counselor

To inquire about counseling services or intensive retreats, click the Contact Us form. Enter your question and comments. If that does not work, enter your contact information in the “comment box” on this site.

Refund Policy
*There will be no refunds within 30 days of the event. Cancellation must be writing. Fax to 706.896.0031 or email to Benita@EspositoInstitute.com.
* 31-45 days before the retreat, there will be a 50% refund, minus a $35 processing fee.
* 46 or more days before an event, there will be a full refund minus a $35 processing fee.

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12 Keys to Conflict Management

My first mentor told me, “Conflict is a necessary part of intimacy.” 

I didn’t want to hear that. I hated conflict, but his words rang true. I knew I wasn’t good at conflict management, and because of that, many of my relationships did not thrive. That was 30 years ago and since then, I have spent zillions of hours learning how to handle conflict productively. Read more

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How Husbands Help Their Wives Heal: Jenny’s Story

bhThe Rewards of Effective Conflict Management.

Jenny’s heart was racing. An MRI revealed no heart dysfunction, so her doctor diagnosed it as a panic attack. She wanted to discover the underlying cause so she could heal the condition without drugs. Read more

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Healing the Heart: Emily’s Story

square04Body-Mind-Spirit Healing

Research published by the American Medical Association indicates 90% of all disease is stress-related. The mind, body, emotions and spirit intricately affect each other. When we heal the emotional or spiritual root of dis-ease, pain and other physical symptoms can ease up, and sometimes they vanish completely. That is a really exciting part of my work!  I’ll show you what I mean in the following story. You’ll understand how psychotherapy can accelerate healing, and is an adjunct to traditional medicine.

Emily suffered from constant chest pain that was so severe she had difficulty breathing.
The pain persisted for weeks and was getting worse, even with prescribed medication. Her doctor suspected an emotional root to the pain, and referred Emily to me. Read more

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Healing the Heart: Emily’s Story

yellow daisyResearch published by the American Medical Association indicates 90% of all disease is stress-related.

The mind, body, emotions and spirit intricately affect each other. When we heal the emotional or spiritual root of dis-ease, pain and other physical symptoms can ease up, and sometimes they vanish completely.  I’ll show you what I mean in the following story. You’ll understand how psychotherapy can accelerate healing, and is an adjunct to traditional medicine.

Emily suffered from constant chest pain that was so severe she had difficulty breathing. The pain persisted for weeks and was getting worse, even with prescribed medication. Her doctor suspected an emotional root to the pain, and referred Emily to me.

When I asked Emily to tell me about her life, she talked about the impact of the church on her childhood conditioning, and about the angst in her marriage.  She was raised in a strict Catholic family and attended Catholic schools.  Being a good girl had become her greatest concern because that’s how she received love from her family. She was sure something awful would happen if she did or said anything that opposed her mother, her father, God or her husband.  She stuffed many of her thoughts and feelings.

Emily was good at suppressing her real self, and after years of that, she felt like she was dying inside.  She wanted to cry and laugh. She wanted to share what she really thought, but she was afraid she would be rejected by those she loved most. She asked, “How can I possibly show up as my real self? I’m afraid my husband won’t love me any more.”

Emily’s emotional and spiritual heart ached from this internal conflict.  I suspected this was the root of her physical heart pain as well. When I shared this hypothesis with her, she began to consider that the pain in her chest was related to the way she suppressed her emotions. The only way she felt loved was by putting on the mask of the good girl, and that did not allow any authentic expression or any fulfilling connection with her husband. Thus began our journey to find productive ways for her to manage her conflicts.

In the beginning of our counseling, Emily could feel her emotions only a little. She was afraid of telling the whole truth and feeling the whole truth. When she resisted feeling her emotions, the chest pain grew stronger. As the counseling progressed, Emily gained the skills and courage to feel her emotions instead of hiding behind the mask of the good girl. She allowed herself to feel the longing to be her Authentic Self. She felt the pain of missing emotional intimacy with her husband. She realized that her lack of authentic communication prevented her from connecting with him in a deep way.  I helped her face her fear that he might leave if he really knew her. She was sure God and her parents wouldn’t love her if she didn’t match the standards of the church.  She confronted her childhood decision to not love herself just the way she was.

What gave Emily the courage to tell the truth and fully show up?  She committed fully to her healing process. She shifted her perspective of a condemning God to a compassionate, unconditionally loving God. She opened to receive this deep love, and strengthened her faith in a way that worked for her. She chose to stop judging herself harshly, and as we built a trusting relationship, she received the unconditional love that flowed through me as well. With deep breathing processes and other psychotherapy methods, Emily’s emotional and physical body began to relax and unwind. Every time we did the emotional healing processes, her pain totally subsided.

After a while, Emily mustered the courage to invite her husband to our counseling sessions.  Feeling stronger and safer now, she told him about the emotional and spiritual anguish that caused her physical pain. He wanted to learn about her journey. He examined his judgments of her, and realized that he judged himself harshly at times, too. He realized that he was afraid to feel his own emotions, just like Emily had been. He wanted to be fully present also, connect with his Authentic Self, and support Emily to heal.  He wanted to know and love Emily more completely than ever before.

It only took a few more sessions for them to fly on their own. I taught them communication skills and conflict management skills so they could share intimacy on every single level: emotional, mental, spiritual and physical.  With every meeting Emily felt safer to fully show up, especially now that her husband eagerly embraced the skills to cultivate a nurturing garden for her to grow, and for their marriage to flourish. Emily’s heart pain never returned.

“You would do well to spend quality time with those whose generosity of spirit waters your emotional garden. Remember that you deserve to receive this kind of nourishment.” ~unknown

(The client’s name was changed to protect her confidentiality.)
* * *

Copyright. The Esposito Institute, Inc.  2011
Original writing: 1991.

For permission to reprint, please use the “Contact Form” on this site.

Contact Author: Benita A. Esposito, MA, Licensed Professional Counselor

The Esposito Institute / Counseling and Life Coaching
2 Offices: Atlanta and Blairsville, GA
Psychotherapy Websites: www.Flourishing-Lives.com & www. EspositoInstitute.com
Life Coaching Blog: www.YourAuthenticLife.com

Specialties: Marriage counseling, individual psychotherapy. Divorce, emotional roots of disease, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, bipolar and success skills. Combining intuition and evidence-based practices, Benita gets to the bottom line quickly to help clients create flourishing personal and professional lives. Psychotherapy is available in Blairsville and Atlanta. Life coaching for high achievers is available worldwide via telephone and skype.

“When you have the courage to reveal who you are, wherever you are, that is true freedom.” ~Benita A. Esposito, MA

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