There are several reasons learning to resolve interpersonal conflict is a valuable skill for addiction recovery. First, interpersonal conflict is the primary source of stress for most people, whether it’s your boss criticizing your work, your girlfriend accusing you of cheating, or another of the infinite varieties of misunderstandings that make everyone involved unhappy. Most people identify stress as their number one trigger of cravings, so anything you can do to reduce stress from interpersonal conflict will likely reduce your cravings as well.
Second, social connection is an essential asset for a strong recovery. It’s good to have sober friends and supportive family members on your side when you’re trying to stay sober. However, addiction can be brutal on relationships. Knowing how to resolve conflicts and rebuild trust is essential for creating a strong support network. However, resolving conflict constructively isn’t always easy, so here are a few tips.
One reason conflict is hard to resolve constructively is that your emotions get in the way. It’s easy to get angry or defensive but when that happens, you become more focused on being right than solving the problem. Take a little time to cool off before discussing the problem. If you have to calm down quickly, take some slow, deep breaths with a long exhale. That will help you relax so you can think more clearly.
State the problem as you see it.
When you feel like you are ready to discuss the problem calmly, state the problem as clearly as possible and have some idea of what outcome you want. Try to be realistic about the outcome. You may crave vindication or giving the other person a piece of your mind but if you think it through, you will probably realize those aren’t really helpful. Instead, imagine an outcome you can be satisfied with. When talking to the other person, state the issue as succinctly as possible. You’ll probably find you disagree on some basic premises of the conflict, which leads to the next point.
Listen to what the other person has to say.
When two people have an argument about something, they typically interpret the situation in different ways and they may even disagree about the facts. Most of the time, these fundamental disagreements never come to light because neither party is willing to listen to the other. To untangle the knot, really listen and try to understand the other person’s perspective. You may find the argument disappears once you resolve some basic discrepancies.
Confine your discussion to the problem at hand.
Finally, when discussing a problem, try to stay focused. That means, don’t bring up past things the person has done and always refrain from making personal attacks. Stay focused on the facts at issue, your respective interpretations, and possible solutions. Personal attacks and bringing up old arguments will only make the problems worse.
Good relationships can mean the difference between a successful recovery and a cycle of recovery and relapse but relationships can be hard. They require good communication skills, self-awareness, and emotional regulation. These are all things that can be improved with practice and therapy. At Tree House Recovery of Orange County, California, our holistic treatment program helps men find connection and build strong lives free from addiction. Call us today at 855-202-2138 to learn more.