Perhaps one of the most common conflicts we face within us is that of love. Not only are our delicate emotions at stake, but also that of someone else’s.
You may be engaged to someone but come to the realisation that you are not ready for marriage. You may love someone very much while getting a once in a lifetime job, which means you must move to the other side of the world, ending the relationship indefinitely. Finally, you may want to spend your life with someone but are annoyed by their irritating mannerisms, causing you to be exasperated by them.
The inner turmoil in these situations is easy to recognise. The process of dealing with these anxieties would make us deeply attentive to our emotions and what they are saying to us. It would also make us considerate of the other person that will be affected by our decisions.
Be careful not to make any rash decisions, which are tempting and possible in scenarios of heightened emotional vulnerability. Be sensible and thoughtful to do what is best for you. But also try to minimise the suffering that the consequences of your decisions may bring.
When dealing with the big existential questions in life, we can feel very powerless and confused about what opinions or what ideas to form in such huge inquiries. These issues are so large it is easy to find ourselves floundering in the wake of them.
We may wish to find meaning in our lives but believe that life is inherently meaningless. Perhaps you deeply wish to be more optimistic about life, but due to the suffering that you have experienced, you are unable to shake off your innate pessimism. You may start to question what is fundamentally right and wrong.
These are huge questions about life that aren’t easy to deal with. Due to the enormity of these issues, the first concern is to not let these questions consume us or else nihilism may take over.
Analyse yourself and recognise what your beliefs are and what you want to achieve in life. Mould your choices around these struggles to attend to your findings. We can feel dangerously lonely and isolated when combatting these immense internal conflicts. However, we should take comfort in the fact that everyone else will be combatting issues like these as well.
Internal conflict surrounding social situations is prevalent in many aspects of our lives. This can sound more like an external conflict. Still, it is much more to do with an internal struggle of how to tackle what an individual or society expects of us, or how they want us to behave.
Maybe you feel the pressure to adhere to social norms. People may expect you to act in a way that is not in accordance with your character or beliefs.
For example, you have just started university and have found a group of friends that you wish to integrate with. However, in order to build a relationship with them, you find yourself forcing yourself to like certain types of music. You have to restrain yourself from criticising opinions that you find reprehensible.
Yet, if you don’t make these sacrifices, you may find yourself friendless. You may have to behave in a certain way or adopt a fake persona in a job in order to be successful or fit in. In doing so, you are contradicting your ethics and values, but your livelihood depends on it.
A lot of social interactions can cause internalised strife. A choice between putting up with acting in a way we don’t like for possible benefits, or sticking by our principles and detaching from relationships that are causing us to not be true to ourselves.
Is it worth putting on a façade? Are the achievements you will gain worth betraying your beliefs for? Is there a way to reap the same wards whilst sticking to your principles? Do you have to choose a different direction in order to do so? Determine what is most important to you and choose accordingly.
An inner struggle that focuses on our image is very much an internal conflict that is questioning aspects of our identity. Character traits that you believe yourself to have can come into question and be contested in unexpected circumstances.
For example, you genuinely think you are a forgiving and tolerant person, yet, a close friend betrays you. You feel an urge to enact vengeance on this individual. This causes you to dispute whether or not you really are a forgiving person after all. You value honesty and consider yourself to be an honest person. Still, you consider lying to your boss after making a mistake because you don’t want the burden of the blame.
The dilemma of our image is similar to the social type of internal struggle as mentioned.
However, the internal conflicts of our image are not dictated by our relationships by others and their expectations on us, rather they are dictated by our pre-conceived notions of whom we believe ourselves to be. These notions become unstable and challenged.
We are either tempted to act against our values or are opened up to aspects of our personality and identity that we were not aware of before. It is through careful scrutiny of the situation and by thoroughly examining our emotions that we will come to recognise what our true qualities are. Then we can make the right decision.
These types of internal conflict are just a few that we are all likely to find ourselves caught up in at some point or another. There are other forms of internal conflict that exist but are perhaps more suited to specific lifestyles – political and religious conflict, for example.
Other inner struggles can be on a lesser scale than the ones we discussed above, such as procrastination or when trying to save money. However, whatever the scale of the inner strife we face, we must learn to reflect upon ourselves. We should evaluate what choices are best in accordance with our personal and social ideas and values.
Making decisions isn’t easy
Reflecting, analysing and attending to our emotions, needs and desires in order to build a better awareness of who we are, and striking a balance between emotional and rational reasoning for the basis of making a decision is a good model to follow. This can help us overcome internal conflict in a sensitive and mature way. Yet, we must be conscious of the fact that dealing with these struggles and making a choice is by no means easy.
The decisions we make will not be black and white. The predicaments we will be presented with will be multi-faceted. The choices we settle on may have certain repercussions on us and other people. These can be positive and negative – we must be aware of and prepare for this.
After making a decision, we may feel anxious whether we made the right decision. We could feel a loss due to another direction providing certain opportunities.
Internal conflicts are difficult to overcome because they are complex. It is not a question of choosing between what is good for you and what is bad for you. It is discerning what is more suited to your best interests, beliefs and values so that you can be true to who you are.
We must assess the self. In doing so, we can make decisions that will have an overall lasting and positive impact on our lives.
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