How Conflict in Relationships Can Be a Catalyst for Growth

“The mind is the place the soul goes to hide from the heart.” ~Michael Singer

“You think you’re so much better than me!!”

As this phrase—laced with contempt—exited my mouth, I recognized the familiar words. I had grown up hearing this phrase often. The “rich people,” the girl who won the competition, the inconsiderate neighbors, the rude supervisor… “They think they’re so much better than us.”

So, I diligently spent my childhood trying to prove them all wrong.

I wore myself out trying to be the smartest, the best, the prettiest… you name it. I wasn’t going to let all those losers be better than me, or my family. No way!

But who was I really fighting against?

The answer is no one.

In truth, I was fighting against my parents’ belief system, which came from their own childhoods. I was fighting their ghosts from the past. But I didn’t know that at the time.

I had no idea I had carried this belief system into my own adult life. After exhausting myself trying to prove I was worthy as a child, I then spent decades working on self-improvement and personal growth. I had moved beyond all that silly limited thinking.

Or so I thought.

Until that day in the kitchen with my husband…

In my mid-forties…

When he politely declined to eat the meat I had prepared for dinner.

Suddenly an uncontrollable rage welled up inside me, and I screamed at him, with tears streaming down my face…


My mind immediately starting playing endless clips of all the times my husband had demonstrated his assumed superiority over me. I was completely triggered and unhinged, so I bought into it.

As I continued on with my ridiculous fit, another part of me, a more detached part, asked this simple question: “Where is all this coming from?”

Immediately, I recognized the familiar phrase. I knew exactly where it came from. I stopped my raging in an instant and excused myself to the bedroom.

Once there, I took the energy away from the mind and into the heart. There was no need to analyze it. No need to further engage the mind in its joyous rebuke of my innocent husband.

Michael Singer has a quote that I love. “The mind is the place the soul goes to hide from the heart.” We don’t want to feel those painful feelings, so we rationalize them endlessly in the mind. But, there’s another option. I placed my attention in the heart, disengaged from the continuing chaos in my mind, and allowed the energy to release.

Minutes later, I went back to the kitchen, feeling much calmer, and apologized to my husband. Peace was restored. I had also progressed spiritually by releasing some of the stored garbage that had been hiding in my heart for decades.

I’m now to the point where I can be grateful when my husband hits a nerve, presses my buttons, triggers me, or whatever you prefer to call it. I’m only able to release that old stuff when it gets hit and brought to the surface. Otherwise, it just lays there, dormant, silently waiting for the perfect opportunity to erupt. Like a volcano.

We all know the feeling of that volcano when it erupts without notice. Those closest to us are the most adept at causing an eruption. They can so skillfully and predictably hit our stuff.

We eventually realize that an intimate relationship is like a mirror. Our partner has an uncanny ability to reflect back to us the parts of ourselves that need the most healing. If we understand this, we can learn to use the conflict in our relationship as a catalyst for spiritual growth.

We can stop the blame and anger. Instead, we feel immense gratitude when we find yet another old wound in need of healing. This is how we grow spiritually together. And, in the process, we create great connection and intimacy.

In an intimate relationship, we are like two rough pieces of sandpaper, constantly rubbing up against each other. Over time, if we use this process to our benefit, we become smoother. Then, our relationship reflects back to us this smoother, gentler, happier version of ourselves.

We don’t get so triggered anymore. We chill out. We are able to enjoy life and each other. Peacefully. Joyously.

About Shannon Alexander

Shannon Alexander, MBA, M.Ed. is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Board Certified Relationship Coach. Her sole focus is helping women repair their broken marriages to make them better than ever! Individual and group coaching is available. Book a free call to talk directly to Shannon at lifeisyourguru.com

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