Coping with Conflict

Conflict within a partnership is unique to each couple, the interplay between the individuals involved, and their dynamic. In the midst of conflict you may feel:

Shut Down

Or maybe something completely different. Whatever your experience, it can be difficult to cultivate healthy communication when caught in the strong feelings that accompany conflict. To return to the place of thoughtfulness, compassion and calm, that's important for successful communication about a topic of conflict, it's helpful to spend a set amount of time apart before returning to a contentious topic with a partner.

Moving Meditation:

One way to make use of this time apart is to do movement meditation, because being in an agitated state can make it difficult to be still. It's not important to do both meditations, just find one that appeals to.

Find a quiet place where you can take a number of steps in a straight line without obstruction. For this meditation, you'll bring curious attention to an activity you do every day: walking.

  1. Slowly follow the process of taking a step, noticing the sensations you feel in your body:
    • Lift one foot and move it forward
    • Place that same foot on the floor starting with your heel
    • Shift your body weight onto the forward foot
    • Lift your back foot and move it past your forward foot
    • Place that foot on the floor starting with your heel
  2. Continue to slowly and mindfully take steps forward in this manner. When you reach the end of the space available, turn around and repeat the process in the other direction.
  3. When your mind drifts to thoughts of the conflict, gently return your focus to the practice of walking.

Giving yourself space from the thoughts and feelings associated with conflict in this way allows you to look at the feelings more objectively and disconnects you from the current of strong emotions that can cloud your wiser mind.

Find a quiet place with a flat surface to stand on. This very simple yoga practice will take you through four poses you can do to keep your body active and, through focusing on the movements of your body, help quiet your mind. When your mind drifts to thoughts of the conflict, return your focus to the sensations in your body that accompany each pose.

Mountain Pose
mountain pose

With your feet hips width apart, spread your toes out and stand evenly. Bring your hips into a neutral position. Stand tall, elongate your spine, and imagine your body as a straight line from the top of your head down through your feet. Release your shoulders down your back, with your arms at your sides and turn your palms facing forward.

As you stand in this pose, focus your mind on the small adjustments your body continually makes to hold you in this pose. Notice the strength of the floor under your feet and feel it supporting you. Notice how your palms help open your chest and your heart.

Downward Dog
downward dog pose

Start out on your hands and knees. Tuck your toes under you and lift your hips into the air. Then, shift your hips back to straighten out your arms and upper body. Without locking your knees, try to straighten your legs and get the heels of your feet as close to the floor as possible. Depending on your height, you may need to step your legs back to create a full triangle shape with your body and the floor.

Focus your mind on all of the parts of your body that are active in this pose, your hamstrings, shoulders, calves, and spine. Notice the warmth that stretching in this way brings to those parts of the body. Notice how the inversion of your head below your heart allows blood to flow to your brain.

Warrior II
proud warrior pose

Step your legs apart a wide distance. Turn one foot so that it is in line with your body and leave the other foot parallel to your body, then bend your knee over your turned foot. Make sure that your bent knee is in line with your ankle. You should be able to see your toes on the inside of you knee. Lift your arms parallel to the floor, release your shoulders down your back, and turn your head to look past your fingertips.

Focus on your mind on the power of your gaze. Notice the concentration and energy this pose requires to maintain and feel your body strengthening as you practice it. Notice the parts of your body you feel being stretched and opened by the pose.

Child's Pose
child's pose

Begin on your hands and knees. Bring your hips down onto your feet, spread your knees slightly apart, and bend forward as you extend your arms in front of you, resting your head on the floor. Extend into your fingertips.

Focus your mind on the sense of balance this pose brings to your body. Notice each breath as it enters and leaves your body, and with each exhalation relax a little more deeply into the pose.

Other meditations that may help with feelings of conflict:

1 Check out the Jealousy and Difficult Feelings page to explore another way to handle the difficult emotions that accompany conflict.
2 Try out the Metamours and Breakups page to cultivate positive feelings for yourself and your partner.