10 Ways To Be Real In Spite Of Conflict


Most of us really don’t know how to be our real selves through conflict. Some will avoid it, panic at the thought of it, run from it, or pretend it doesn’t exits. Others may thrive on it, confront it, and live by winning it. Here are things that are absolutely necessary for conflict recovery and being real in relationships.

  1. Realize that resolving conflict is healthy and necessary for growth.
  2. Be curious about differences rather than demand, judge, or criticize differences.
  3. Ask permission of the other to respectfully address the conflict.
  4. When you feel reactions of anger or defensiveness, take 4 deep breaths and wait 90 seconds before responding.
  1. Use “I” statements rather than “you” statements.
  2. Increase your feeling vocabulary and know the difference between thoughts and feelings.
  3. Give your partner opportunity to express his or her point of view that’s  different than yours.
  1. Respectfully repeat back what you heard the other to say to let him or her know you listened.
  2. Respect the dignity, worth, and well-being of the other regardless of the conflict.
  3. Avoid focusing on what you don’t want, and politely request what you do want or need.

For the next 10 posts, I’ll focus on the “how to” of each of the 10 ways to be real in spite of conflict.

Five Lessons from a Five Year Old

The sun was shining and the rain drizzled. Five-year old Ella said, “Let’s look for a rainbow, Mimi. I’ve never seen a real one. I’ve seen them in picture books but I’ve never seen a real one. But it’s raining now and the sun is shining. Let’s look for one.”

Paying careful attention to my driving, I heard a squeal, “There it is! There’s the rainbow! A real rainbow!” Sure enough I glanced to the left and a huge bright distinct rainbow arched the entire city! There was a lesser bright rainbow above it – a double rainbow! And it stayed around several minutes afterwards – A reminder of God’s love to a little girl and her grandmother.

She saw that the weather conditions were just right. She thought about it. She verbalized it. She was looking for it. She found it. She was intentional. Here are five lessons from a five-year-old girl about receiving God’s gifts.

  1. Become familiar with God’s gifts through reading the Bible
  2. Think about it.
  3. Talk about it.
  4. Be intentional about looking for it.
  5. Be ready to find it.

AIR – Awareness, Intentionality, Risk

Other than occasional moments of forgetting to breathe, most of us don’t even think about it. We’re able to take in a deep breath of air. . . . we can breathe in openness. . . we can breathe in courage . . . we can breathe in the air around us.

Breathing in air is so natural for most of us, isn’t it?

. . .unless we’re a newborn baby emerging from our mother’s womb gasping for our first.

. . . unless we’re on our deathbed, gasping for our last.

Everything in between birth and death is our substance for life: AIR.

Air is one of the four classical elements of Greek philosophy, along with fire, water, and earth.

As necessary as it is for life, most of us take air for granted. We can’t live without this gaseous material of nitrogen and oxygen that makes up our world’s cozy blanket. The protective layer of atmosphere around the earth is our natural sunscreen.

I enjoy walking barefoot in my front yard first thing in the morning. It’s part of my daily ritual of hot coffee and prayerful meditation. Nature sounds are distinct and vibrant. I sometimes watch birds circling the sky. Squirrels leap from tree to tree. I usually don’t think about the air that makes their flights easy.

When I board a plane, I don’t think about the physics of air travel. On vacation, I enjoy watching sailboats gliding across the water guided by skilled sailors and propelled by air current. One of my favorite hobbies is paddling a peaceful river in our red seventeen-foot canoe and feeling the air guiding us along.

I think of air both in physical ways and as terms of language.

I don’t understand the science of using airwaves for telecommunications even though I use my cell phone and internet service every day. Behind the scenes of television or radio newsrooms, someone might say, “you’re on the air.”

As a little girl, I helped my mom hang laundry out to air dry on the clothes lines. I later understood the phrase “don’t air your dirty laundry.”

Every Spring when we no longer need our central heat and air, we open the windows of our home. We air out the rooms to bring in fresh breeze.

I like to watch people when I’m in a crowded mall or outdoor festival. Posture alone gives clues to whether a person has an air of superiority or an air of confidence.

Awareness, Intentionality, Risk

Air is our substance for life. It’s vital for our survival, well-being, and growth. So is AIR: Awareness, Intentionality, and Risk. All of these points are mandatory for well-being and growth, just as the air we breathe is crucial for our survival.

Think of Awareness, Intentionality, and Risk as basic for movement through life, just as birds and planes travel from one place to another. Think of AIR as fundamental for dialogue just as landlines, cell phones, radios, and satellites are needed for communication. Think of AIR as the means of opening the windows of the soul to allow the fresh breeze of the Holy Spirit to flow through.

Questions to Ponder . . .

How has this post increased your awareness?

What are examples of well-being and growth in your life?

Can you identify Awareness, Intentionality, and Risk with those examples?


How is our marriage really doing?

Have you taken pride in managing your money well, then later found out a check bounced? Have you balanced the checkbook and then discovered you were spending more on eating out than you realized?

Have you believed you were eating well, then were surprised the scales registered 10 pounds more than expected? Have you written down everything you ate and saw you were taking in many more calories than you were actually burning?

Many couples enter counseling with a lot of uncertainty.  One is usually dragged in by the other. One says, “We need help.” The other says, “We’re doing fine. . . We can work this out on our own. . .We’re not as bad off as you think.” It makes sense that couples who detect problems in their relationship, on average, wait an additional six years before they get help.

TigerPhotoIt’s very common for one spouse to minimize and the other maximize. I call it the “Turtle/Tiger” syndrome. Turtles typically hide in their shells and avoid conflict or accuse their partners of blowing things out of proportion. Tigers, on the other hand, roar and persist until they are heard. Many times they DO see things worse than they are. Turtles tend to see things “not as bad” as they really are.  TurtlePhoto

The Partnership Pattern chart is a great way to balance the check book of your relationship. No need to write down what you eat here. All you have to do is observe, experience, and check off measurable items that are going on now in your relationship.

Ideally, it’s great for both Tigers AND Turtles to participate. But if the Turtle in your life is still hiding, you Tigers will have a great outlet for grounding in reality. The idea is to check off what you experienced most in the relationship that day. Do it every day for one month and get a clear picture of what you need, whether it’s an enrichment weekend or crisis intervention. Know where your relationship stands.  Sign up for your free Partnership Pattern chart.

In upcoming blogs, I’ll give you ideas for developing healthy relationship patterns.

Stress Relief: the 7-minute rule

Do you normally come home from work after a stressful day expecting to relax, but then walk in and the house is a wreck?

  • Do you identify with piled up bills, blaring TV or electronic games, clutter, and whiney children?
  • Do you wonder what your spouse has done all day and you ask?
  • You have to be firm to be heard so you begin to order your children and spouse to immediately snap out of their illusion and straighten up.

Resistance hits like a sudden thunderstorm with flashes of lightning and a heavy downpour of rain. Tension builds until it’s no longer tolerable and everyone retreats to his or her best method of defense.

Do you find yourself with an “I-work-so-hard-all-day-and-no-one-cares” attitude?

If you identify, you may not realize how you may be setting the stage to get what you’ve got. You may be shooting yourself in the foot without realizing it.

Here is one of the most effective ways to change this cycle of craziness and tension.

It’s a technique that, with consistent use, can potentially transform stressful situations into a relaxing peacefulness and connection.

It’s called the Seven-minute Rule for Stress Relief. Here’s how it works.

  • Consider seven minutes before or after any and every transition as sacred space where there’s no confrontation, criticism, stern looks, demands, sarcasm, cynicism or any other negative interaction.
  • Instead, be purposeful about loving and respectful interactions with your loved ones regardless of the environment.
  • Let your children know you are glad to be with them just as they are. You choose to love unconditionally in that seven-minute sacred space.

Here’s an example.

You can set the timer on your smart phone for seven minutes after pulling up in the driveway.

You may want to put a reminder on your dashboard with a 3” x 5” card that reads “7-minute rule”.

You’ll take a deep breath and breathe in an attitude of loving connection and thankfulness. As you exhale, you’ll breathe out any expectations and stress from work. You may want to take about three or four deep breaths to give you the attitude you need for the seven minutes.

As you enter your home and leave your stress behind through the deep breathing, you’ll look into the eyes of your children and spouse and be interested in their world.

It’s as if you’ll be walking onto “holy ground” in those seven minutes. Use it to connect, appreciate, and see the world through the eyes of your loved ones.

Think of any transition, whether it’s:

  • seven minutes before bed
  • seven minutes when you wake up
  • seven minutes before leaving the home
  • seven minutes after you arrive at your destination
  • seven minutes before sitting down for a meal
  • seven minutes after finishing your meal

Any transition is seven minutes of sacred and holy space.

Try it out for a week, (7 days) and see how it works for you. I challenge you to try it for 21 days as that’s the habit-forming magic number. I’d love to hear your comments.