A certain amount of family conflict is normal. There will always be differences of opinion, disagreements over petty issues and old family dynamics coming to the fore. There are times however when family conflict becomes downright poisonous:
1) Holding grudges
Holding grudges is a waste of energy. It’s like that old saying goes – you drink the poison hoping it will kill some one else. Learning to get over the past and move on is healthy and obsessively hating or being bitter does not win awards or trophies – it just makes you look like a bitter miserable person.
2) Cutting people out completely
There are a few occasions when it is probably best to cut someone toxic from your life. If someone is repeatedly dishonest, lies or breaks trust then you need to re-assess whether this person is worth keeping as a friend. When it comes to immediate family, the same applies although it is also important to give someone the benefit of the doubt initially and try to have empathy and compassion.
3) Lacking forgiveness
Some conflicts go on for so long that the original reason gets forgotten and the bitter emotions carry on regardless. This is when the situation gets completely out of hand and the bitterness takes over from common sense. Rigid rules emerge and people can become so bitter and twisted, embroiled in an emotional war that does not need to exist. I cannot understand families that keep conflict going on for months or years. Who does this help? No one.
4) Holding on to bad feelings
People who hold on to bad feelings tend to be the same people who lack empathy and compassion. All they know is how to be hard and how to reject. Often, these people are deeply unhappy with their own lives and will use a conflict with another family member as a legitimate outlet for their inner despair. Many do not even realise they are doing it. This suggests dysfunction in the family and the sad fact is that many close family members who are close will not be aware of the dysfunction. It is something they grew up with and will seem normal. To outsiders, it is anything BUT normal.
When there is conflict, instead of judgement and blame, try to understand why someone has acted the way they have. A little compassion and empathy can go a long way. Diffusing a situation is a choice, prolonging the conflict is also a choice.