How Can I Cope With Conflict in Recovery?

How Can I Cope With Conflict in Recovery?

As humans, we are social creatures. This includes living and working with other people. Conflict is common between individuals and can range from mild to severe. Good communication and managing conflict are important coping skills in recovery. They are vital social and interpersonal skills that help you to manage stress, participate in your community, and develop healthy relationships.

In treatment, you participate in many types of therapy and groups. These will teach you how to communicate with others and manage many different types of relationships. As you enter recovery and leave treatment, you will continue developing your social skills. This includes incorporating methods of coping with conflict into your daily life.

A conflict is a disagreement. It highlights an incompatibility or difference of ideas. A simple conflict may be deciding what to have for dinner, while a more complex disagreement may be a discussion about where you want to live or how to best raise children. Regardless of the conflict, coping skills are integral in having successful relationships in recovery.

Coping With Conflict

When disagreements arise, it is normal to want to avoid them. However, you can learn how to manage these differences in a way that allows all parties to communicate, be heard, and find a compromise. These are integral social skills. At Enlightened Solutions, we believe in teaching these skills in our programs to help clients successfully cope with conflict and build relationships in recovery.

The Importance of Listening

You are only one part of a relationship or one person in a group. Learning to listen to others is an essential coping skill when managing a disagreement. When you listen to another person, you allow them to share their point of view. If you or another person is not allowed to share, negative feelings can grow and escalate into full-blown hostility.

Listening to another person's point of view does not mean you need to agree with it. Remember, active listening is a skill. Try focusing on what they are saying. This will help you to understand their perspective on the situation. The more you practice actively listening to others, the better you will get at it. Group therapy or peer groups are great places to practice this skill. Once you get the hang of it, it can be easier to listen to those you disagree with in your life.

Keeping a Level Head

Conflicts tend to bring up feelings of frustration and anger. Keeping a level head while you disagree is incredibly helpful. One tactic is to breathe. Breathing helps to calm your system and keeps you from jumping in before the other person has finished speaking or saying something you wish you hadn't.

Remember that it takes time to learn how to remain calm. This is especially true if you are discussing a topic that is very important to you. Taking time away from the conversation to calm down is always an option.

The Skill of Sharing

Part of being in a relationship and resolving conflicts is sharing your point of view. Being aware of what you think and being able to open up to others can feel intimidating. However, if you do not share your needs and perspective, it puts a barrier between you and other people. This inhibits the relationship from developing further. In treatment at Enlightenment Solutions, our clients learn to communicate with their mental health care providers, peers, and family members.

Learning to Compromise

The aim of coping with conflict is to work through problems with others with whom you have meaningful relationships. While it may not be necessary to compromise with a stranger, someone you may never see again, it is essential to do so with loved ones, family members, coworkers, and anyone you care about.

Learning to compromise takes time and requires listening, keeping a level head, and sharing. This is the action of working with another person or other people to find a solution that all can agree on. While this is not always possible, it can and does happen in many situations.

The Value of Improved Coping Skills for Conflict

Improving your coping skills to manage conflict is incredibly important. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), conflict is common in families where addiction is present. Therefore, in recovery from addiction to drugs or alcohol, you are likely to be required to manage different situations where others may disagree with you.

The value of these coping skills is that it helps you to be in honest relationships with others. These relationships provide support when needed. As humans, we are bound to disagree at some point. When you can cope with these disagreements and work through them, your relationships will expand and strengthen rather than disappear.

Conflicts are a normal part of human relationships. You will come across conflict in many individual relationships and groups. Coping with conflict, however, is very important in one's recovery. The skills needed to do so will help you find connections with others and build a community of support. At Enlightened Solutions, we help our clients develop the skills they need for successful relationships. Clients learn to actively listen to others, share their feelings and opinions, and keep a level head while communicating about their issues. If you or a loved one is interested in learning more about our treatment programs, please reach out to us at (833) 801-LIVE today to speak with one of our caring staff members. 


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9 Tips for Resolving Conflict in Addiction Recovery

For most people, interpersonal conflict is the most significant source of stress, with the other contender being financial stress. Conflict can arise in any relationship for many different reasons. It can occur because of differing expectations, conflicting goals, or simple misunderstandings. Whatever the cause, conflict is often distressing and adds to your problems. People typically cite stress as their primary trigger for cravings. The better you can resolve disputes, the less stress you will have in your life and, we hope, fewer cravings. However, most of us are never taught how to resolve conflict. Some conflicts will require mediation or family therapy to resolve, but most can be managed on your own if you keep the following tips in mind.

 

Acknowledge There’s a Problem

Some people don’t mind conflict, and others even thrive on it. However, most people don’t like it and would rather avoid it, even to their detriment. They might go so far as to pretend there’s no problem at all. However, pretending doesn’t make the problem go away. Just as someone with agoraphobia severely limits themselves by not leaving the house, you severely limit yourself by avoiding conflict at all costs. The first thing, then, is to acknowledge there’s a problem and objectively consider if you would be better off trying to resolve it.

 

Don’t Discuss it While Angry

While anger can be motivating in certain circumstances, it tends to intensify conflict rather than resolve it. If a dispute arises, give yourself time to cool down before you discuss it. Anything you say while angry may only make matters worse. You never forfeit your right to tell someone off, and you can always do it tomorrow after you’ve thought it over. If you don’t have that kind of time, at least pause and take a few deep breaths. Remind yourself that you don’t want to say or do anything you can’t take back. When you’re feeling calmer, you can begin discussing the issue.

 

Remember What’s Important

When trying to resolve a conflict, keep the big picture in mind. Often, we are penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to arguments. We get fixated on some small benefit or even just being right, and we lose something of greater value. For example, family members often alienate each other over politics when neither side gains anything from being correct but loses everything over continued conflict. 

 

Listen

The first significant step toward actually resolving any sort of conflict is to be willing to listen. It can be challenging to put aside your own desires and opinions for a few minutes and listen to what the other person has to say, but it’s essential. Listening is a skill in itself, but it starts with giving your full attention. When they’re finished talking, reflect back what you just heard. Use phrases like, “So what it sounds like you’re telling me is--” and try to characterize their statements as accurately as possible. This, in itself, is a powerful way to resolve conflict because you will often discover that you’re not actually dealing with conflict but a misunderstanding. If there is a legitimate conflict, at least you will be starting with an accurate understanding of each other’s position.

 

Avoid Placing Blame

Most conflict doesn’t arise from any sort of malicious motive. You may have heard the expression, “Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity.” Perhaps stupidity is often too strong a word for ordinary conflicts, and “misunderstanding” would be more appropriate. Furthermore, disputes often arise because two people just want mutually exclusive things. There isn’t a bad guy as the needs and wants of neither is more legitimate than the other. It’s important to acknowledge that what the other person wants is reasonable and not make matters harder by attributing to them either malice or stupidity.

 

Identify the Underlying Issues

The next step is to identify the underlying issues when you’re able to approach the conflict with a reasonably calm and fair mind. We often think we know what an argument is about, even though it’s about something else entirely or perhaps even several different things. For example, say a married couple is arguing because the wife asks the husband to pick up the kids at school, and he says he can’t. The underlying issue for her might be that she believes he expects her to do everything and doesn’t respect her time. The underlying problem for him might be that he’s made a prior commitment and doesn’t want to fail in his obligation. When you’ve identified what the real underlying problems are, you can begin to work on solutions.

 

Find Areas of Agreement

For more intense arguments, it’s good to start by looking for agreement, however small. You both want the kids to get picked up from school. You both want the other to feel appreciated, and so on. This partly goes back to remembering what’s important. In many relationships, you want to remember that you’re really on the same side and dealing with an issue of how to cooperate. It’s much easier to solve problems as teammates rather than as adversaries.

 

Come Up With Solutions

When you understand the underlying problems as well as the areas you both agree about, you can start working toward a solution. In the example above, perhaps there’s some way the husband can meet his obligation and pick up the kids. Maybe the wife can pick up the kids, and he can take something else off her plate. Often, the willingness to compromise is just as important as any particular solution you come up with.

 

Be Willing to Forgive

Finally, be willing to forgive the other person following the conflict. Don’t agree to a solution, then go around feeling resentful for the next six months because you didn’t get your way. Being willing to forgive is better for your mental and physical health, and it’s better for your relationship. 

 

At Enlightened Solutions, we understand that recovery from addiction is about far more than quitting drugs and alcohol--it’s about living a happier, more fulfilling life. Being better able to communicate and resolve conflict improves your relationships and makes you happier. That’s why we put special emphasis on family and relationships. To learn more about our approach to addiction treatment, call us today at 833-801-5483