Healing Conflict in Difficult Relationships

Sometimes we find it hard to tap into the qualities those in our care need from us. 


Sometimes our difficulty in making a connection can stem from old and deep rooted problems;  the old unresolved hurts or grudges in our relationships.  Even when both parties wish to have a more authentic dialogue communication can remain either distant and polite or is reduced to that old familiar argument that has been replayed over and over again.


You may have come from a family where you didn't talk about feelings about and they were glossed over with politeness and superficiality.  In some families expressing the emotions such as anger grief or fear may be judged with shame or entirely suppressed.  And in relationships between siblings or parents and children both may well have entrenched 'positions' against each other.  Having related to each other in a judgemental or defensive way for years it can be difficult to change this habit.  Many of us carry old wounds such as anger fear and hurt  for our entire lives and we have no idea how to release and resolve our emotional unfinished business.

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Finding the courage to communicate

When we feel our capacity to give care is blocked it is helpful to reflect on a time when you experienced genuine connection.  Remember a satisfying communication you've had and reflect on the qualities that made them go well, which you can draw on once again.  

These qualities may have included:

  • Openness without expectations 

  • Really listening to and getting to know the other person

  • A sense of play and easy humour

  • A sincere willingness to reveal oneself

  • Being natural and speaking from the heart

Of course, when there has been a long history between you not every communiaction attempt will bear immediate and positive fruit, but releasing our old positions and fears can spark a change in that relationship.  Its crucial to remember that the source of any change is in ourselves.  When we are more free and spacious and loving we are more able to be brave and take risks and speak with honesty and kindness. Whether or not the other person changes at least we will be able to understand and connect with them more easily.

Check your Motivation

You will only fail if your intention is to win a discussion/argument or to change the other person.

If  you genuinely want to heal the conflicts in a relationship first sit quietly and become aware of your own thoughts and feelings.


  • What are your hopes and fears that operate behind your perceptions and communications. 

  • In your previous communication what were your expectations of this person?

  • That she was wrong or promised to change?

  • That she wouldn't make another mistake or hurt you again? 

  • That she would love you in the way you think she should show it? 

Similarly, become aware of your own fears of communicating with the other person. 

  • Are you afraid of being rejected or misunderstood? 

  • Of feeling ashamed or foolish? 

  • Afraid of having your feelings hurt again? 


The hope that another person will never hurt you and will always love you perfectly is unrealistic as is the expectation that the other person must change in order for you to be happy

See that this person is "Just like Me"


Exchaging Places
















Once you have established this feeling , imagine changing places with this person, you are now in her shoes and have her history of trauma rejection grief or fear and now have whatever her current sufferings are; being misunderstood unfairly judged insecurity craving fear  and future suffering , physical deterioration  and pain of illness and aging grief of loss loneliness of future losses and the loneliness of dying of feeling abandoned.

Seeing the world through the other persons eyes imagine seeing "you" enter the room to have a talk.  Ask yourself what would I most want rom this person coming tosee me.>  What would I most need from him or her?

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Imagining Death

If this person is not facing imminent death, and though in some cases it may feel extreme,  you may be more willing to let go of your old hurt and anger by imaging the person is dying. Since the time of death is uncertain, by finding the courage to heal your relationship now  you will have fewer regrets if you or the other person should die suddenly.  You may harbour a hope that if you do not heal your bad feelings they will simply dissolve once the other person dies bit death or seperation does not release your old wounds and the wall of fear that you have erected around your heart  What will release you is your willingness to communicate and let go af the past.  Healing the relationship is healing your own heart.

Unfinished Business - releasing our emotional burden and letting go.


There are understandable fears about clearing up an old emotional problem yet it is our responsibilty to resolve it and we can finish it whether or not the other person is present or willing to communicate and forgive us..  This will release us from our heavy burden of anger attachment or guilt and free us from our painful memories

Why should I forgive? Forgiveness frees us

Sometimes we hold on to our righteous anger for years, believing we are somehow punishing another person with it. Although we think our problem comes entirely from the outside an honest self examination is likely to reveal an inner stubborness selfishness or vindictiveness - negative qualites not unlike those we have been judging in the other person .  Not forgiving hurts us imprisoning us in past memories of pain or powerlessness.  We can even become addicted to our pattern of suffering and our identity as a victim then our unspoken fear might be If I let go of my suffering won't I cease to exist. 


Forgiveness does not mean we condone or accept another persons hurtful acts rather it releases our reactions of hurt anger or fear taking the thorn out of an old wound so that it can heal. A harmful pattern continues when everyone continues playing the same part. break the pattern. forgiveness frees us.


What to do before communicating

Establish your motivation.  Imagine that your intention now is simply to listen to th other persons feelings and experience and to express your own natural self.  That's all. Meet the other person as she is.