What you will learn from this blog:
- An internal conflict puts us in a constant state of tension which can affect our mental health
- Importance of awareness and acceptance when facing an internal conflict
- How to resolve an internal conflict at the root
Internal conflict – it’s something both Kester & myself (Kavitha) at Intracresco are familiar with. It’s a feeling that we know all too well.
It starts with the mind racing from one camp to another, the heart throbbing, the stomach feeling all knotty and the emotions show their grand range from – anger to guilt; sadness to happiness.
We have all felt conflicted at some point in time, and many clients talk to us about it when they come to us for mental wellness therapy. Being in internal conflict is like a battle with yourself that hinders you from making a smooth decision.
Internal conflict can come from something as simple as – “Should I take the East-West line to get to my destinations or the Thompson-East Coastline?” or it could be something complex like deciding the right school for your child. And both forms can affect your mental health.
Here are three ways to find your centre and calm during such situations:
1. Accept It is OK to be in a ‘State of Conflict’
Conflict of any kind is hard and can affect your mental health. Remember to be kind to yourself.
Bodily responses are similar to those you may experience in high-anxiety situations like – bodily tension, increased perspiration, knots in the stomach, shallow or accelerated breathing, nausea, and rapid heartbeat. In such situations, the amygdala fires away and the brain switches to survival mode, or “fight or flight” mode.
That said, it is possible for the more evolved part of your brain to override this survival instinct. Like any skill, this ability to override takes practice.
Start by being aware of the physical symptoms your body displays while in the ‘state of conflict’. For me, it was a pain in my heart, racing thoughts in my mind, knots in my stomach and pacing aimlessly. For you, it may be something else.
Once you have established awareness, start being present and accept that you are in the ‘state of conflict’.
Below are some verbal cues we use in mental wellness therapy that will help you develop acceptance and shift out of survival mode:
- “I notice that there are conflicting parts in me and I am aware of them.”
- “It is ok to be in this state of conflict. This state is temporary.”
- “I notice that my body is responding to this conflict by ______ (insert common symptoms your body displays).”
2. Allow Each ‘Conflicted Part’ a Voice
When there is internal conflict, your inner world splits into parts. There could be a part of you that feels ‘entitled’ and at the same time another part that feels ‘guilty’.
Jace was unwell and stayed home for a couple of days to recover. So, Kester and I cared for him on alternative days. This way at least one of us is working.
During the days I cared for Jace, I felt no conflict. But on the days Kester cared for Jace and I went to work, I felt torn between feeling guilty and being entitled, and it affected my mental health.
The guilty side of me felt:
- “It is your duty as Jace’s mother to take care of him.”
- “You are the only one that knows how to care for Jace. Everyone else will mess things up.”
- “You are a woman, you should be staying home and taking care of the family.”
The entitled side of me felt:
- “I’ve done my fair share, now it’s Kester’s turn.”
- “I can’t be with Jace all the time. Kester knows how to care for Jace well. It’s time to transcend gender stereotypes.”
- “Work keeps piling up and there are deadlines to meet.”
Allowing both conflicted sides a voice shifted me out of that conflicted state to an aware and present state.
3. Meet the Underlying Unmet Needs
Becoming aware of my thoughts helped me understand the root issue of my internal conflict. In this case, was a belief I had acquired as a teen – “it is a woman’s duty to care for her family. No matter how hard she worked in the office she still had to ensure the needs of her family were met even at the expense of her own needs.”
Only when an understanding of root issues has been reached can we facilitate healing. Some minor root issues can be looked into by yourself. Others require professional help; which we at Intracresco are happy to provide through our mental wellness therapy sessions.
Learn more about how we at Intracresco can add value to your mental health through our mental wellness therapy services.