Positive Relationship

How Conflicts in our Relationships can lead to Self-Awareness

A couple having misunderstanding

I am sure that our experiences have taught us how relationships are a risky business but that doesn’t stop us from aspiring for a perfect one. The question that often troubles us is how we start a healthy relationship. Are there things we can do to make sure we are picking the right people? What about our role in relationships? What can we do to be better friends, partners, or family members?

Sometimes when there’s a fight or an argument we often find ourselves confused about the person that we are with. But when it comes to relationships a conflict is inevitable, but it doesn’t have to make us run away or feel emotionally distressed. That’s said having frequent arguments and hurtful conflicts is not healthy either.

Sometimes, we don’t even fully know the reason for the conflict. I have seen people struggle in their relationships. This struggle often arises from holding onto an idealized version of their expectations that ends up being far removed from reality. This road eventually leads us to feel more frustrated and distressed. Now, this pressure is something that one may struggle to cope with, ultimately leading to feelings of isolation or burnout. Both of these outcomes can make us feel absolutely terrible about our personal lives.


Here an idea given by a Swiss psychologist Carl Jung over 100 years ago is still beautifully relevant. The concept of shadow. Shadow refers to the parts of ourselves that are in the darkness, or that we are unconscious of.  If you have ever been resentful. You have a shadow. Shadow comes into play as we grow up and find ourselves belonging to a certain kind of family or community. 

For example, let’s understand a child who grows up in a family where politeness is an important virtue or a law. This person might have a hard time speaking about what he feels if he feels that might hurt or bring on a conflict. And if this person ends up being in a relationship with a person who is honest and direct, he might often feel set off. Now, this polite person might also consider the other person rude as he often disagrees with him or in other words acts assertively.  When a person feels resentful what it means is that you are violating your interest. You have something to say or do that you are not able to. Notice what in your relationships makes you resentful and angry. What is it exactly that makes you set off? 

We have these needs that we have placed in our shadow. This happens either because they haven’t been met or because we’ve made judgments that we end up projecting onto others.  One might wonder why should we invest so much energy in it. The reason is plain and simple. If you aspire for a healthy relationship, you cannot always complain about what’s wrong but also need to offer what exactly are your conditions of satisfaction. 

If you keep complaining or worse holding on to it you will soon find yourself exploding in situations where your reaction might make absolutely no sense. This is bound to happen because you cannot stand it, you have accumulated too many monsters in your closet and you have not taken enough time to straighten them out. Not only we are going to lose the power to manage our poise but also say and act in ways that we will later regret. 

Life and relationships are complex but they don’t have to always make you angry or bitter. We need to take time to understand our shadow. Our own needs, feelings, or ideas, which we are not even aware of but do end up sending out. This dynamic is evident in almost all our relationships. Parents often project their hopes and desires as what’s right for the child, and husbands may get angry about how their wives are not helpful enough. That’s exactly why we need to get in touch with the pits of your anger. 

See what it says about you. What is it that you have not addressed about yourself?  It’s important to realize the problem is not with one’s capabilities but our expectations. 

At first, It is quite frightening to open the door. But when you put in the work you also discover things about yourself that have always been in the dark. This will not only bring clarity in your life but you will also find yourself dealing with various life situations with much better judgment and intelligent caution. Shadow is just like a blind spot that we all have. But if one takes time to identify and reflect on it, it can be utilized as a tool for understanding ourselves and to enhance our relationships. 

So next time you are feeling extremely aggravated or resentful, see what it says about you 

  1. What are you feeling?
  2. What are your needs?  
  3. What have you not forgotten in yourself?
  4. What can you ask for?
  5. What do you need more of? 

And if you stay open to what you can learn from the process, you’ll be amazed at what you gradually discover about yourself. And lastly, remember we human beings always have a choice on how to act.

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