Journaling can be a powerful tool to resolve conflicts amicably. Spending some time journaling before confronting someone over an issue that is bothering you can help you be more objective and clear about the relationship and help you to manage your expectations of others in a way that creates less drama and hurt and is more likely to enable a satisfying resolution.
If you are having a conflict in a relationship, writing down your thoughts, feelings and emotions about the issue can give you a chance to calm down and be more objective about the situation. Conflicts are not best resolved when you are feeling anger, rage, hurt or disappointment. Release the tough feelings onto paper first. You’ll then be able to see the situation more clearly, without the maelstrom of strong emotions clouding your thinking. Ask yourself why you are feeling the way you are. Ask what has hurt and angered you so deeply. This leads on to stage two, clarityClarity
Once the heat of the emotions are calmed down a little you can look at the situation more clearly. You may realise that you are reacting to a situation because it has hit a nerve or unsettled you because of past experiences. Try to look at the situation you are in clearly and without muddying it with emotions about past experiences or fears that you hold inside. These emotions may need to be dealt with separately. Ask yourself if there is a bigger issue wrapped up in your distress. For example is your fear of rejection triggering your emotionally reaction to someone cancelling on you at the last minute. Once you are clear about the specific issue, you can move on to looking at your expectations of the relationship.
No one can make you happy all the time. No one is perfect and everyone fails to live up to our expectations occasionally. We all have different ideas about how others should behave based on our experiences, upbringing and dispositions, but it is not always possible for life and other people to meet those expectations. This could be because the relationship is not working in someway – or it could be because our expectations are too high. Perfectionists in particular tend to have very high expectations of themselves and others and can feel desperately hurt when those expectations are not met. But we may need to take a step back and ask if our expectations are reasonable and realistic. Of course, if a person has been cruel or unkind then we have a right to expect better of them, but many relationship issues are about small things that become bigger because of our expectations of others. For example a person who has grown up in a house where voices were never raised might have an expectation of not being shouted at, but if the other person in the relationship is from a family where issues were aired loudly and freely, there will be a conflict of expectations.
Once you have assessed the situation and your feelings about it you are closer to finding a solution. From this point of clarity it is easier to see whether the situation can in fact just be let go, or, if a resolution is required, it will now be easier to see how that solution can be achieved amicably and so that all people in the situation can be satisfied. If you are hurt because someone else is always late for example, you can decide whether to just accept that as an aspect of their personality or whether, for you, this is a major issue that you need to discuss with them.
Before discussing the issue with the person involved it is helpful to write down a list of the good things about that person, what you value about them and what they bring to your life. When we are upset our minds can get stuck in a positions of negativity and focus solely on the problems in our lives rather than the positive aspects. When you have reached the point of a more balanced opinion about the other person you are in a better position to have a discussion with them and will be more open to listening to their views. This means a you have a better chance of coming to a resolution where all persons involved feel heard and understood and the needs of everyone can be met.
I know this sounds like a lot of work – but the reward of healthy, joyful relationships is well worth the effort.