conflict, relationship practice

Conflict Avoidance

photo by Joshua Levin

photo by Joshua Levin

How long will you keep not telling someone something because you are afraid of their reaction?

If you dig deeper here, you’ll find that you are really afraid to feel whatever you’ll have to feel seeing their reaction.

So, if you are willing to get more honest, you begin to see that you are protecting them on one level, and at deeper level, you are protecting yourself.

By withholding your truth, you also rob them of their opportunity to grow having heard or experienced your truth telling. This is you not trusting they can handle their own journey, which is disempowering to them.

Since most of us grew up with no great role models around how to do conflict, it’s understandable why we hold back. It probably didn’t go well in our homes. All the more reason to treat ‘sharing my withholds’ as a new practice.

If we treat ‘telling the truth’ with those we are close to as a practice, we give ourselves room and permission to make mistakes and not be perfect. Then we can practice not protecting ourselves or them. We practice trusting that we, and they, can handle it even if it might be hard.

The Practice?

  • Is it worth it? Ask yourself if you want to move closer to this person? Is there more for you to gain or learn from this relationship?
  • Extend and reach out. Write down five names right now and commit to moving closer to them by sharing your truth by a certain date.
  • Lead with vulnerability and be willing to see what happens and what you both learn about yourselves by sharing your withhold.
  • Get help. If you get stuck in the weeds, get support, hire help, or keep telling the truth about what is so.
  • Read the more detailed post coming soon about “how” to clear conflict.

The greatest part about leaning into conflict? It helps us awaken to who we really are. We begin to see all the ways we keep love out and are not willing to be whole. We feel the impact of our behavior on another. Bottom line? We see ourselves more clearly and then get to choose if we prefer to believe our stories or see through them.

If you commit to leaning into it, and staying in relationship, it might just bring you and your friend, co-worker, or lover, closer. The hidden benefit here is that we acceptance of ourselves even more.

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8 Responses to “Conflict Avoidance”

  1. On June 29, 2011 at 11:54 am Jesse responded with... #


    I opened to the points about disempowerment of another’s personal journey through withholding. Some great truth here.

    • On July 1, 2011 at 9:20 pm Jayson responded with... #

      Jesse, thanks brother!

  2. On June 29, 2011 at 12:20 pm ali responded with... #

    this was a timely and perfect post for me to read! I’ve been working with this pattern in myself, recently. Thank you!

    • On July 1, 2011 at 9:20 pm Jayson responded with... #

      you are welcome ali! :)

  3. On June 29, 2011 at 4:23 pm Jonathan responded with... #


    Thank you for sharing this in your latest newsletter. The subject line hooked me in and spoke to that voice of curiosity that creeps into my head. Timely too because I’m trying to make sense of my behaviours (and reactions) while in relationship.

    Of those five people I want to be closer to by truth telling, would be my current girlfriend. By what date? I can’t say for certain, I have no date in mind, but any earlier attempts at leaning into my perspective of a situation and not with holding my views or preferences versus her own (while it can feel playful) also feels like I leave the door wide open to be mocked and patronised. I hate it. And see my reactions becoming juvenile and immature.

    If my discomfort lies in hearing her truth and then not having my own heard through equal measure, how can I approach this differently? Without reacting like a 12-year-old.

    • On July 1, 2011 at 9:22 pm Jayson responded with... #

      wow, great awareness and question. the ongoing practice is to be willing to feel what you don’t want to feel. it’s a muscle just like anything. the more you work it out, the easier it gets. you have to be wiling to risk losing the relationship as well. if she’s amazing, she can handle it and will likely stick around, as will you. bring it!


  1. Resources to Support Practice - December 1, 2011

    [...] Conflict Avoidance  [...]

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    [...] and ramped issues up when he really didn’t need to.  It has become increasingly easy for him to side step conflicts, rather than become embroiled in [...]

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