Recovery is a lifelong journey that takes dedication and commitment. Unbeknown to many, it isn’t as simple as not using drugs or alcohol. For the best chance of recovery from addiction, you need to work on all aspects of your life. Only by doing this can you avoid behaviors, emotions, and actions that contributed to your addiction in the first place.
It might sound strange, but knowing how to resolve interpersonal and intrapersonal conflict is an essential part of recovery. Why? Because conflict can cause a significant amount of stress and emotional turmoil in our daily lives. For many people, stress is also a trigger for relapsing.
Some examples of conflict include:
Sometimes conflict and stress cannot be avoided. To give you the best chance of maintaining your recovery, you will likely learn coping mechanisms to help you navigate any hurdles you face throughout addiction treatment.
However, some conflicts and stress can be avoided. For example, you can teach yourself how to navigate situations without becoming emotionally worked up about them. Dealing with conflict can be done pragmatically, stress-free, and step-by-step.
Irrespective of whether you are weeks, months, or years into your recovery journey, healthy conflict resolution is possible. Below, we share some tips to assist you.
In recovery, there are only two ways to avoid conflict; by being a people pleaser, or shutting people out when the possibility of conflict arises, also known as stonewalling.
Though you may think avoiding conflict is in your best interest, doing so is not constructive. If you give up your personal boundaries to avoid conflict and please someone, you will feel resentful. Likewise, shutting someone out to avoid conflict will lead to future problems and needlessly damage a perfectly salvageable relationship.
While it can be difficult, it is important to accept and resolve any conflict that you come up against.
It can be hard to listen to conflict, especially from a loved one or friend. However, it is essential that you understand their perspective, thoughts, and concerns. By getting everything out in the open, you might even realize that the conflict was misplaced or misunderstood in the first place.
Focus on what is being said rather than what you want to hear, and engage in active listening. Maintain eye contact, stay focused, and don’t formulate an opinion or answer while they are speaking.
Following the conversation, summarize what has been said to you so that the other person knows you have listened and you know you have understood. Apologize if necessary, but don’t apologize just to minimize conflict and people-please.
When conflict arises, it is easy to jump to conclusions and become defensive. As this can cause relationships to break down, try to take the conflict on board objectively, and don’t let your emotions get the better of you.
If you need to take time to cool down, don’t be afraid to say so. This can help you reflect on what has been said so far, and it can also assist you in accepting the other person’s perspective. When you are ready, you can share your thoughts. Remember to think about how you want your perspective to be received and act accordingly towards the other person.
Unpicking conflict can feel like a personal attack, and things can soon get ugly, especially if you let yourself get defensive.
If the situation becomes unpleasant, try to take a step back and take deep breaths if you feel overwhelmed. Don’t assign blame, bring up past mistakes, generalize, name call, or take shots at the other person’s character. Instead, respect boundaries and remember this is not an argument to win, but a conflict to resolve.
As you begin to resolve any conflict, talk over the options with your loved one or friend and see if you can find a solution that leaves you both happy. There is a compromise somewhere if you look hard enough.
Conflict is sometimes inescapable in daily life. Likewise, it is impossible to avoid all sources of stress. As you navigate life in recovery, you need to understand that avoiding relapse is about holding yourself accountable - only you can ensure your own relapse prevention.
The people in your life will play an important role in your recovery. Working on your communication and interpersonal skills to rebuild your life after addiction is vital. As part of your addiction treatment, treatment programs such as group therapy will help you gain healthy conflict resolution skills in recovery.
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