What's the Difference Between a Conflict and a Problem?
When you’re faced with difficult situations, your negative emotions are triggered and often cloud everything that’s important, leading you to total paralysis in the face of difficulty. You suddenly feel trapped, submerged, and unable to find a solution. Facing these kinds of situations may not be an easy task, but you can come out of them stronger.
Indeed, without a doubt, throughout your life, you’ll come across certain challenging situations. In these moments, it’s important to either be able to solve them or seek help.
A conflict always involves at least two parties and points of view. Conflicts surround you, they’re a part of your life, a part of being human, and also a powerful source of learning… that’s if they’re well focused. As Sigmund Freud said, “If two individuals always agree on everything, I can assure you that one of them thinks for both ”.
Therefore, you have to accept conflicts and know how to manage them. However, what’s the solution to a conflict? The obvious answer is the most important: the resolution of a conflict is as simple and complex as ‘reaching an agreement’.
Sometimes, you get involved in never-ending arguments that don’t lead to any conclusion, just because you think you’re ‘right’ when, in most cases, this is totally secondary. Almost all the conflicts that you face can be resolved through agreements. In most cases, it’s a discussion of personal convictions that have nothing to do with what’s really happening. Therefore, conceding a little in your position to reach a common agreement would be a possible solution.
Agreements imply that both parties concede in some way for the common good. Every resolution has consequences, but those consequences don’t invalidate the agreement. You lose one part but you gain another. The part you lose is just a consequence, so it doesn’t have the power to disrupt the agreement.
What if your conflict is internal? This may seem more complex but, in essence, it’s the same structure. Again, you have two different points of view concerning the same situation. What should you do? The answer is the same as before. You must reach an agreement. You need to dive inside yourself and find out which solution is the best for you. It’s there that you’ll find the answer you’re looking for. However, it’s worth noting that the best long-term solution is often the one that entails the greatest sacrifice in the short term.
You have to assess the alternatives and make a decision, even if it has consequences that involve losses. Nevertheless, these losses will be assumable, since your gains will also be valued and the balance will end up being positive. Therefore, there’s no reason for self-punishment or self-criticism.
It’s simply a matter of accepting and validating the consequences. As with the conflicts that you resolve externally, you’ll find gains and consequences that you must accept. In fact, the consequences are inherent in the resolution. Therefore, you must accept them and not punish yourself with feelings that are contaminated by emotion.
You have to carry out your resolution free from emotion, evaluating the alternatives, even though you may be tempted to think with your heart. For example, your emotions may lead you to perpetuate a toxic relationship, even though your mind tells you that it’s time to leave. In this case, you must put those emotions aside and coldly think about what’s best for you.
A problem is understood as a situation that arises that, at the moment in question, has no solution. What do you do? You return to the obvious and no less important action of looking for the solution. In this case, the first thing is to set a goal, where you want to go, what your aim is, and what you want to achieve.
Once you’ve established your goal, you put into practice the possible alternatives to reach the solution to your problem. You value and weigh them up and then you get started. As with conflicts, emotion acts as a paralyzing enemy.
The resolution will sometimes be simple and sometimes not, but that doesn’t mean that your goal is no longer valid. The road can be difficult but, if you know where you want to go, you’ll be able to keep going. The important thing is to trace a clear path and follow it, correcting your course as many times as necessary.