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How Does Future-You Handle Conflict?

future you negative emotions personal growth shame Nov 11, 2023
Rock statues in conflict

Most of us would love to live in a world without conflict.

And by that, I don’t just mean large-scale global conflicts (although also, yes), but smaller conflicts with the other humans we interact with. When we think ahead to our future, to what we want for ourself, conflict, disagreements, disappointments, etc usually have been edited out of our minds as we paint the picture of how things will be.

Especially if you have perfectionist or people-pleasing habits; conflicts are avoided at all costs.

But conflict is inevitable. We will disagree with others, and they will disagree with us. Boundaries will be violated. People may say hurtful or insensitive thing, have opposing views, etc.

And so this month as we consider what we want for Future-You, I’m inviting you to imagine this part too. 

How does Future-You handle conflict?

In this instance, it may make sense to start with what we don’t want. For example, if your current reaction to conflict is to always withdraw, give in, etc, and this is resulting in frustration and resentment and being overly responsible for the feelings and actions of others, you may know that you don’t want to continue doing things this way.

If you typically respond by getting angry, saying things that you don’t intend to say, sulking, taking things personally (we’re all friends here, I do both of these things, we’re all a work in progress), you likely know that you also don’t want to keep doing that.

So what do we want?

To remain calm?

To pause before we speak?

To let the other person know that we are upset and we are going to take a break and get back to them?

You’ve likely seen some people navigate conflict in a way that you admire, but possibly feels inaccessible to you, but really this is possible for you too. We can reverse engineer it, once we can see it. 

To handle conflict with grace, to take the actions that we’d like to take, we probably need to be calm. Because our feelings drive our actions (just think for a moment what your actions are when you are calm vs when you are angry), if we can get to calm, we’ll be in better shape to handle the conflict how we would like too.

If we’d like to remain calm, what would we need to do? We’d probably need to recognize in the moment that we are upset, and choose to pause in that feeling. Perhaps we’d take a breath. Perhaps we would lean into self-compassion and say to ourselves “it’s ok to be upset, others would be upset here too,” before we respond.

If we’ve seen others handle conflict with grace, remaining calm, chances are high that they have learned (likely through trial and error) how to tune into their emotional selves and self-soothe before responding; they’ve learned how to not just react. These are skills, and probably skills that we’d like Future-You to have. 

We don’t have to judge ourselves if we’ve arrived at this stage in our life without these skills. Few of us received an education in navigating difficult emotions; at best, you might have been told to “just not get upset,” and more than likely you’ve been taught to bottle things up, shove them down, etc.

Learning to tune in, and offer yourself compassion is learnable, and it’s part of how you can choose to handle conflict. It will take intention, and practice, and it won’t go smoothly from here on. But if you ever had to memorize the Kreb’s Cycle or an ACLS algorithm, I promise you that you are more than capable of doing this too.


Hi There!

I'm Megan. I'm a Physician and a Life Coach and a Mom. I created this blog to help other Physicians and Physician-Moms learn more about why they feel exhausted, burned-out and overwhelmed, and how to start to make changes. I hope that you enjoy what you read, and that it helps you along your journey. And hey, if you want to talk about coaching with me, I'm here for that too! I offer a free 1:1 call to see if we are a good fit. Click the button below to register today.

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