HSPs & Conflict: From Resistance to Successful Resolution

HSPs & Conflict: From Resistance to Successful Conflict Resolution

In our discussions about HSPs and conflict, we collectively realized that how we experienced conflict as children created some hurtful and unhelpful patterns of behaviors ~ and that unlearning these behaviors has been not been easy. 

Two HSPs at the 21st HSP Gathering enjoying the HSPdepth of processing. Photo by Kim Tyler Photography, Essex, CT

For example, because of our sensitivity, and our depth of processing, many of us:

• Learned to become the ‘peace keepers’ of the family. This eventually left some of us feeling powerless because, as we know, there is no children can be successful peace keepers without sacrificing their own innocence and joy.
• Learned to ruminate about the conflict in our families. Unlike the non-HSP siblings who may have ignored or blown off conflictual issues, we HSP children thought too long and too hard about how we might solve things.
• Withdrew and often experienced anxiety and depression. This then led to having a lower sense of self-esteem.
• Knew that even though we could see right through to the truth about the conflicts in our families, knowing what we knew to be true was ignored, denied or invalidated.

Many people, not just HSPs, avoid conflict for several reasons:
• It feels too vulnerable
• Differences of opinion are not appreciated, accepted or even tolerated
• There are many risks and fears involved, which may involve grief & loss; feeling abandoned, or being scapegoat, especially in dysfunctional families or workplaces.

So, it is understandable why many, if not most HSPs, learned to avoid conflict. However, the question then became: “What price do I pay to avoid conflict and keep the peace at all costs?

Here, briefly, is what the research says about conflict:

Conflict is inevitable and when it is handled successfully the following usually results:
• People feel more authentic, seen, heard, and validated

Mother & Son HSPs: Authenticity, Validation & Love in Action! Photo by Kim Tyler Photography, Essex, CT

 • People are forced to clarify their own views, needs, thoughts, and ideas
• Long-standing issues sometimes surface and are addressed with new ideas and approaches
When conflict is handled unsuccessfully the following usually results:
• People feel humiliated and defeated
• A distance and climate of distrust develops that is sometimes harder to resolve than the original conflict itself;
• Resistance develops, cooperation decreases and some people end up leaving situations, events or relationships because of the unresolved turmoil conflict can generate

How to best go about approaching conflict

You must spend time with a sincere focus on SELF …
• Use this time for critical thinking which involves Jacquelyn’s TFNAI Model called: Integrated Wholeness of the Heart.” This is includes:
o (T) Thinking
o (F) Feeling
o (N) Needing
o (A) Assumptions
o (I) Intuition

It is important to be aware that:
• Too often we HSPs are overwhelmed by our emotions which then lead us to making assumptions, many of which are erroneous.
• Because many HSPs are the “NFs” on the Myers Briggs scale, it is easy for us to overlook facts.
• Because we tend to focus on other’s needs, it is too often that we ignore our own.
• Because we are intuitive, it is crucial to access this part ourselves for the deep wisdom it has to offer.
Important Lessons to Practice in Conflict
From The Fourfold Way by Angeles Arrien
1. Show up and be present. In other words, do not avoid conflict. You will pay a price if you do.
2. Speak what has heart and meaning for you. Do this after spending time with the TFNAI model above.
3. Speak your truth without blame or judgement.
4. Do not be attached to the outcome.

Staying present in conflict takes vulnerability, strength, and courage.
And it does take practice to develop and utilize these skills. Be gentle with yourself as you learn and grow.  Finally, the you tube video by Brene Brown ~ The Power of Vulnerability~ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCvmsMzlF7o  is an excellent explanation on the power of being vulnerability, strong and courageous and the joy it can bring you .

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2 Responses to HSPs & Conflict: From Resistance to Successful Resolution

  1. Phyll says:

    Exccellent article! I learned a lot and could relate to everything you said. If the shoes fits. . . and, it does!

  2. Jack says:

    This article is extremely helpful and accurate. I also found a quote on the internet which read: Staying quiet to keep the piece can be a good thing, but if the piece has already been disturbed, staying quiet won’t make anything better. Summon your courage and speak up when you feel the need to. This is important in non-HSP workplaces.

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