The Conflict Within

Alan White New

Alan White

We all know what it’s like to experience conflict in our lives. Whether it’s with the important people in our lives or within, unfortunately conflict is an inevitable part of life. However it’s how we handle conflict that can determine the effect that it can have on our well-being. If we don’t learn from a young age, how to deal with conflict in a healthy way. We risk spending our lives living out a personal drama.

Many of us, I believe are addicted to drama and conflict. Whenever I meet a student who is struggling with their well-being there is more often than not, a narrative of conflict running through their personal story. If we live in an environment where conflict is the norm, it becomes normalised for us, and we inevitably become caught in an internal and external loop of arguing and battling with others and ourselves.

I find that if someone is constantly in conflict with those around them, that they are probably also experiencing a lot of internal conflict. Conflict can be defined as ‘a feeling of being nervous or unhappy because you want two different things at the same time’. For many of us we often want a lot more than two things at the same time. This internal struggle can cause a lot of trauma within and adversely affect our most important relationship, our relationship with ourselves.

When conflicted, we are in a state of fear – fear leads to anxiety and anxiety leads to our stress response being activated. If this is how our internal narrative is playing out, all day every day. Then it’s not difficult to see the damaging effects that this can have on our wellbeing.

Over time we tend to accept this struggle within as being the norm, or just the way life is! However when experiencing internal conflict it is possible to resolve it through the process of honest reflection. Looking within is not always an easy process. But we must challenge our long held beliefs and be willing to make changes.

I recently experienced this myself. I have changed jobs within the school I am working in. An opportunity came up to become the Home School Community Liaison. This role means that I will be working with young people and their families when they are having difficulties or need extra support. However it also means leaving the classroom as well as my role as Transition year co-ordinator. Two roles that I have gotten huge satisfaction from over the years.

It took me a few weeks to make up my mind. As you can imagine I was quite conflicted as I wanted somehow to be able to do both jobs at the same time! When I reflected on this decision I was able to see how this new opportunity was not only an opportunity to help people, but also an opportunity for personal growth. I believe that sometimes we have to invite new challenges into our lives in order to remain focused on our goals, and one of my key goals is to promote well-being in education.

In the process of resolving this conflict, there were sleepless nights, periods of anxiety and stress and difficult questions to reflect on. To resolve this I not only reflected but spoke to people I trust for guidance. Eventually through thinking about the situation logically and listening to my feelings on it, I was able to make a more confident decision, and once I did the conflict eased almost immediately.

One of the key questions I asked myself, and one we all must ask at times when we are conflicted is, what do I really want? If you can honestly answer this question then you will be better able to manage your internal struggles.

The problem of course is, that a lot of the time we don’t know what we really want. This is especially true for young people, who are often struggling with their sense of identity and belonging. That is why I believe that encouraging reflection from a young age is vital when developing well-being in young people. Honest reflection takes courage, but can change both how we see ourselves and how we maintain positive relationships with others.

Link to shop: Choices – Facilitators Manual Description

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