Reconciliation or Alienation: How Conflict is Handled Speaks Volumes
Every person alive has offended and upset the people they love most. We all do it. Just because someone has upset you or offended you does not make them a toxic person or a narcissist. Do not place this judgment here! You need to go a few further steps.
When a loved one offends you or upsets you, you need to voice your feelings to them and see what happens from there. This is where the true value of a relationship lies. What happens when you try to talk with them about it?
- Do they try to understand you?
- Are they patient and open as you try to voice your feelings?
- Do they feel bad for making you hurt?
- Do they apologize and empathize?
- Do they try to explain themselves a little?
- Do they explain what they actually meant in an apologetic way, sorry for the misunderstanding?
- Do you feel heard, understood, and loved?
- Do you feel reconciled and safer to voice your feelings next time too?
- Did this situation give you more trust with this person?
- Do they blame it all on you?
- Do they attack you again?
- Do they talk with strong defensiveness and anger?
- Do they apologize with excuses and blame?
- Do you feel worse and wish you had never spoken up?
- Do you feel unheard and judged?
- Do you feel distant and alone?
- Do you feel less trust in this person?
- Do you think to yourself, “I’ll never bring that up again?”
It is normal to defend yourself when you have hurt someone you love. Often when we hurt someone’s feelings, we don’t mean to. Misunderstandings definitely happen. It is okay for someone to explain their side of the situation. But how you do this is crucial.
You can defend yourself with grace and humbleness or you can do so with arrogance and anger. One way says, “I am truly sorry. I didn’t mean to do that, and I want to work this out.” The other way says, “This is all your fault. How dare you accuse me! Don’t ever do that again!”
Don’t be quick to label everyone who offends you as a narcissist. This is not the criteria! In fact, this puts you more in a position of being a narcissist than anyone else, as you are requiring everyone to walk on eggshells around you.
Look more at how conflict gets handled once it has happened. Does “fight or flight” kick in for anyone or does genuine conversation happen? Do you both feel heard and emotionally safe? Do you trust this person more or less now? Does the conflict drive you further apart or does the reconciliation bring you closer together? This is where the real “meat” of a relationship happens.