Overcoming the Fear of Conflict and Vulnerability in Relationships
5 Steps to Become a Bad Ass at Vulnerability
By Corinne Farago
Learning to Communicate in the Midst of Conflict
Every relationship involves some level of conflict. It’s natural for two individuals to have differing perspectives and disagree on occasion.
The key to healthy conflict isn’t armoring yourself for a battle, it’s placing your armor down and getting vulnerable.
That may sound very counter intuitive, but it’s the quickest and most direct route out of the confrontation.
Vulnerability is the path that leads you out of the battleground. When we bypass conflict by getting vulnerable with our partner, we’re creating trust that not every disagreement is going to inflict wounds that need healing.
We start to see disagreements as opportunities to test out a new way of managing conflict, and returning quickly back to connection.
If you ask anyone who practices vulnerability in their relationships, they’ll tell you, being vulnerable isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of strength. It takes courage to be honest about our needs, fears, and desires in the midst of conflict. When we’re afraid of being vulnerable we’re afraid of being seen as weak and then rejected and judged for it.
Rather than taking the risk of being vulnerable, we build walls to keep out the very people we want to feel close to. So how do we overcome our fear of vulnerability in the midst of conflict?
These moments of disagreements can lead us to the most rewarding and connecting breakthroughs if we approach them with an open mind and heart. It’s often through these disagreements that we can reach a deeper understanding with our partner. Learning to communicate in the midst of tension, teaches us how to ask the right questions and learn about what’s important to our partner.
Taking the Risk of Being Vulnerable
I recently worked with a couple who had grown apart over the years, and both felt frustrated and resentful. The husband was especially hesitant to speak up about his feelings, believing that he would be judged or rejected by his wife. It became clear that they had never had a conversation about their fears of conflict or vulnerability. He began to realize how important it was for him to be honest with his wife and to express himself openly, even if they disagreed.
What he learned was that his fear of conflict and vulnerability was keeping them from having a truly intimate relationship. By taking the risk of being vulnerable and honest with his partner, he was able to connect in a deeper, more meaningful way.
They began to approach disagreements with new tools and a new perspective. He took it upon himself to say what he was afraid of expressing, and she learned to hear him, in a way that made him feel safe enough to do that.
They learned that every conflict was an opportunity that can lead to growth.
By both acknowledging their fears of being hurt, they were able to overcome their defensive battles, and build trust that their shared goal was connection, more than being right.
It takes courage and commitment to embrace vulnerability in the midst of conflict, but the rewards are so worth it.
Below are some practical suggestions to keep in mind the next time you’re donning your armor and preparing for battle.
Practical Suggestions for Embracing Vulnerability During Conflict
1. Communicate openly and honestly with your partner, and listen to them without interrupting. Try to be mindful of the other person’s feelings while expressing yourself clearly and without judgment of your partner.
2. Remind yourself, that more than likely, at least 10% of what your partner is saying is true. Acknowledge that 10%. That’s the first step in becoming vulnerable, and deescalating the energy.
3. Avoid ramping up the emotions by blaming and finger pointing. Take a time out if needed, and reconvene when you are both calmer. Most of the long-lasting damage is done when emotions are running high and words are used as weapons.
4. Learn to manage stress. Use deep breaths to calm your nervous system. Practice mindfulness, by quieting your mind and interrupting your defensive mental chatter.
5. Get humble. It takes two to tango. Consider how you contributed to turning a disagreement into a battle, and then have the courage to own your sh#t.
Your Vulnerability is the Key to Finding the Intimacy You Seek
You’ll know when you are a bad ass in vulnerability when the fear of conflict is replaced with confidence that you can navigate your way back to connection pretty quickly.
You’ll get hip to your defensive strategies and be able to drop them more easily.
Your partner will notice a shift in unhealthy patterns of communication and start to respond differently because of it.
You’ll discover that your vulnerability is the key to finding the intimacy you seek.
If you’re looking for help navigating difficult conversations and learning how to embrace vulnerability during conflict, Click here to schedule a Discovery Call and find out how we can work together.
Get the support you need to turn fear into strength and create a lasting relationship based on respect and understanding. This is your first step towards creating a healthier, happier relationship!
Stay well and love deeply,
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