Conflict Is Optional and Sometimes Useful

Conflict is always optional. And by that I mean that not only is it never necessary to choose conflict, it is also your choice if you do want to choose conflict. Many people unconsciously or consciously enjoy the charge of conflict and find it stimulating. After all, many of us choose to be competitive athletes, politicians, or trial lawyers and actively engage in adversarial disputes. We enjoy the process of conflict. You are not required to resolve conflict, ever. It is always your choice.

At its best, perpetual conflict can become the pressure that creates a diamond or the chiseling that makes a smooth stone. A flower has to break open the shell of its seed to grow. There are many positive metaphors in nature for stress and conflict being a positive force of growth.

At its worst, perpetual conflict can become a cycle of abuse or an addiction. The cycle of violence theory, developed by Dr. Lenore Walker, describes the process that most abusive relationships become trapped in that perpetuate violence. That process looks like this: