To be a fearless fighter, you must be a fair fighter.
The more fear rears its ugly head, the dirtier the fight becomes. The most common use of fear in fighting is feeling you must win. The need to be "in control" and "on top" of a situation stems from the fear of failure, and when "winning" rather than resolving is your goal, you will resort to any means necessary to dominate your partner.
This fear of failure and the need for domination in relationships is part of your personal style of conflict resolution, which is heavily influenced by what you experienced and witnessed growing up.
All of us have a downloaded blueprint in our subconscious mind of "how it really is." I use the term "blueprint" because your belief system is like the architectural blueprint for a house that someone else designed. In all aspects of your life, romantic relationships included, how you were raised, the lessons you were taught, and your home environment all formed that blueprint. However, just as with any architectural blueprint, you can change your mind's framework if the one you have is not producing the results you seek. If you want to move from fear-filled conflict to fearless fighting, the first step is to understand your current blueprint and what you can do to change it.
Taking a Love Assessment
Below is a list of questions to illuminate your relationship-fighting patterns, self-regard, and limiting beliefs about romantic conflict. It is only possible to change the blueprint once you realize what the current one looks like.
• What was your family culture about love and conflict?
• Did your parents fight?
• Who had the "power" in their relationship?
• How were conflicts handled in your family?
• How did your parents regard each other?
• Was there verbal and/or physical abuse in your home?
• Was there verbal and/or physical affection in your home?
• How many people in your family have good marriages or partnerships?
• Was marriage or romance held in high esteem in your childhood home?
• Were people free to express their feelings?
Really take time and space to go back to the way it was. By accessing the real memories, the blueprint you have been rocking will come into sharp focus. Once you have a clearer vision of your limiting beliefs, you can start to draw up your own "fearless resolution blueprint."
Creating a Vibration of Love
Journal about the kind of fearless fighter you would like to be. Would you like to have the skills to resolve conflicts with courage and honesty? If you are currently in a relationship and unsatisfied with the way you fight, include in your journal entry how you would like to problem solve with your spouse. (Note: Not how your partner needs to change his or her style of conflict resolution, but how you want to feel while handling discord.) Take time to read what you wrote and feel the feelings of having these experiences.
In order to create a better way of communicating while in conflict, you MUST be able to visualize and feel the experience. Since we are all made up of energy, when you can feel the way you would like it to be, your energetic vibration is raised. This higher vibration will draw like energy to you. The opposite is also true: If you stay in a place of anger and blaming, that vibration will keep the cycle going. Decide what you want to create and then make decisions in line with that goal.
It is important to realize that fear-filled fighting can cause irreversible damage to the foundation of a romantic relationship. When couples fight dirty, it erodes trust and feelings of good faith. This type of engagement stifles growth and expansion.
The good news is, anyone can learn the art of fearless fighting! Once you are clear on your current blueprint and how you want the new conflict resolution model to look, you will need to bring in some new tools to build your "fearless fighting" foundation:
1. No Name-Calling.
It will not resolve anything and is the opposite of loving. Avoiding and defending against hurtful speech is key. Aside from name-calling, this rule includes swearing, hurtful sarcasm, raising your voice, and other forms of verbal hostility or intimidation. Create a code word or phrase with your partner that you can use to indicate one of you has stepped over the line. If your partner continues despite your warning, it may be time to walk away and cool off.
2. No Blaming.
You can avoid blaming by using "I" speech. When we use "you" speech or blaming speech, such as "you did this" or "you do that," the other person naturally feels accused and becomes defensive. This can lead to escalation. Instead, talk about your own feelings: "I feel hurt when you talk that way to me." You are the expert on you, so stick to sharing what you experienced rather than telling the other what he or she did.
3. Only Stick to the Issues at Hand.
Do not mentally go back in time and bring up everything that has pissed you off since Reagan was in office! Argue about only one issue at a time. Do not start new topics until the first one is fully discussed. No "kitchen sinking" -- which is what it's called when you store up a number of hurts and bring them all up in one totally confusing fight. If you find yourself saying, "And another thing..." take a breath and stop talking.
4. Give Each Other Space to Talk.
Don't be quick to cut off the other person with a typical phrase like, "But that's not what happened." Take another deep breath. Be the water rather than the stone.
5. Stand Up for Your LOVE.
Take responsibility for your desired outcome. No matter how the conflict arose, if it is getting dirty, you can end it. You can make a commitment to never intentionally harm your partner's feelings. Someone else behaving badly is not a signal for you to lower your own integrity bar.
6. Stay Calm and Don't Escalate.
Try not to overreact, and avoid exaggerating. That way, your partner is more likely to see your point of view. If FEAR is running the fight, then there will be hurt feelings. The most important commitment you can make to fearless fighting is to avoid escalating when your own feelings are hurt. Better to walk away and take a time out than to lash out. Words can be lethal weapons and do serious damage.
7. Remember the Good.
Many times, remembering why you love this person makes resolving differences easier.
In a twist on the famous Ghandi quote, you must, be the change you want to see in your relationship.
Fearless fighting is a skill that I have no doubt you can learn. Resolving conflicts with empathy and kindness is deeply satisfying and supports the pure potential of your relationship. Conflicts will always arise, but it is how you manage them that creates or destroys trust. Having some agreed-upon ground rules in place before fear has you in a headlock sets you up for success.
How do you handle disagreements with your partner? Share your fearless fighting thoughts or hit me up right here in the comment section if you need some advice on how to implement some of these ideas. You can also tweet about it @HealthyLiving using the hashtag #becomingfearless. (If you tweet, you will automatically be entered into Toyota Corolla's Most Fearless Tweet Contest. Click here for the Official Rules.)
Love Love Love,
For more by Terri Cole, click here.
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