Today’s exercise is a brief one. It is about working out which values are relevant to conflict, and establish how effectively you currently live by your values in conflict situations. Many people, myself included, find it hardest to live by their values in situations of intense stress, distress or anxiety. It is much easier to express gratitude, for example, when life is rosy and you are feeling upbeat. Nevertheless, it is possible to have and express gratitude in conflict related situations. For example, I might be grateful for my partner being great at taking breaks when we are emotionally overloaded, or that they are working really hard to listen to my emotions even though they are difficult.
The first step is to look at your own values and work out which ones you would like to work on sitting with and expressing in conflict. It may be helpful to think through ones that you previously haven’t been very good at sitting with when experiencing conflict that you’d like to work on. Or the ones that you have started to experience the edge of, but would like to include more. Perhaps all of your values are conflict relevant, if so, great!
Once you have the values you want to work with, it is time to assess the extent to which you feel you currently live by them when in conflict. This exercise is helped by printing out the worksheet below – or drawing a bullseye for yourself. You need to think about the most recent conflicts that you have had. These may be ‘hot’ conflicts where you have had big and distressing arguments, or they might be instances where a disagreement or tension was swept under the carpet because it was too hard to cope with. Write each value on the outside of the bullseye and then put an x where you currently feel your behaviour is. This will range from completely on target, at the centre of the bullseye, to barely managing to hit the target at all in the outer rings. Most people will have a mix of values that they are doing pretty well with as well as some that they aren’t doing so well at, so don’t worry if where you are now is not where you’d like to be.
Thats it! Keep hold of your bullseye because in a few posts time I will be talking about putting these values into practice.