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How to find inner peace in the midst of conflict

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Arguments, disagreements, misunderstandings and conflicts can trigger our strongest emotions to boil up to the surface and drive our reactions in a combative direction. It is most difficult to find inner peace when faced with what feels like unfair accusations or unjustified behavior from other people.

Immediately, we fly into defensive mode and may even attack back at the other person for hurting us. The outside world would say that this is justified behavior. The spiritual world would suggest otherwise.

Though it’s challenging to remember that peace, love and joy constantly abide within us when we are dealing with a heated argument or feeling attacked by an outside party, we are able to choose peace, regardless of how hard it can be in that moment.

Believe it or not, this is all we really need to do – remember that we can choose to attack and defend, or that we can choose peace and allow the situation to be healed instantly.

On a spiritual level, there is only the energy of love - a Divine life force that is pure, infinite and everywhere at all times. If this is the case, then there is nothing outside of, or opposite that could alter us in any way because there is only One Being of which we are all a unified part. It is this consciousness that we want to tap into when we are feeling the intense pains of separation and attack from another individual.

In other words, we are all mirrors of each other’s consciousness and we are spiritually One with everyone. To attack another person is to attack your own self. When faced with what appears to be an unjustified attack by another person, it benefits us to remember that nothing is really happening to us, but rather, it is coming from us and being shown to us so that we may forgive it and heal it.

Why would we attack our own selves? The spiritual perspective would suggest that it is because we have simply forgotten our true nature and that we are experiencing the illusion of separation via our ego self. Our purpose here on Earth can be to gently awaken from this dream of separation by using our earthly experiences as spiritual practice.

From this perspective, arguments and conflict provide fertile ground for spiritual growth if we approach it with inner peace rather than from defensiveness. We are either in growth mode or protection mode – we can choose to fight back and “be right” or we can choose to be at peace and awaken to our Divine Self.

Here’s how this can be practiced on a practical level using the following scenario as an example:

Let’s say that you are married with small children and that you are the parent that stays at home to care for the children. It is very difficult to keep the house clean, and your spouse, who is working outside of the home, prefers a very tidy house. Try as you might to keep the place clean and orderly, it is just too difficult to maintain a squeaky clean home and still give your children the attention and care that they require. So, you do your best to clean the house on top of your other activities and responsibilities but when your spouse returns home, he or she immediately accuses you of being messy, inconsiderate and lazy. You feel this is extremely unfair and immediately launch into defending yourself.

This feels like an unjustified attack that would warrant a justifiable resentment. However, according to our spiritual practice, there can be no justifiable resentments because in truth, we are One and nothing can happen to us, but rather we manifest growth opportunities in the form of what appears to be conflict.

In this case, you have 2 options. You can either choose love or fear, meaning that you will either respond from your spiritual self or from your ego. Choosing love does not mean that you become a martyr and let others beat you down while you sit back and take it. It simply means that - on the level of thought - you remember that you cannot be diminished or dominated and that you are here to learn and grow and that suffering is not required.

If you choose to respond with your ego, you will argue to be right and the other person will do the same. If you respond from your spiritual center, you will create a new possibility for both parties and the relationship will deepen rather than dissipate.

So, let’s examine what the spiritual response would look like in our example scenario. Here are the steps:

  1. Listen without judgment to what the other person has to say. Try your best to hear their pain rather than simply reacting to it. Listen for the solution rather than listing your own reasons for why they are wrong.
  2. Remember that you are whole, complete and perfect and that you are worthy and deserving of love and peace at all times – regardless of what the other person is suggesting.
  3. Feel your feelings but remember that they are messengers and not facts.
  4. Breathe deeply to stay calm and centered.
  5. Choose peace – say to yourself, silently in your mind, “I choose peace instead of this.” Keep repeating this silently to yourself as you go through the conversation.
  6. Ask yourself if anything that the other person is saying about you or accusing you of feels true to you on any level. Often, we have subconscious beliefs about ourselves such as “I’m not good enough”, or “I’m lazy”, and we actually project these thoughts out into the physical world so that they show up as experiences. We wind up validating our own negative beliefs when we attack and defend them, rather than questioning if they are really true or not.
  7. Immediately forgive yourself for creating this experience and surrender the whole thing to your Higher Power and ask to see it differently.
  8. Pray to your Higher Power as to how to respond – if at all – to the other person. Sometimes, there is no response needed and you may benefit from a clean break from this person if it is a continuously abusive situation.
  9. If you discover that your own limiting beliefs are creating the situation, you can apologize for whatever you feel that you are accountable for and express to the other person how you will behave differently moving forward. If you feel the other person is completely off-base and actually projecting their own beliefs onto you, then calmly express that you can see how they might feel the way that they do, but ask if they would be open to seeing that differently.
  10. Share with them some possible solutions and ask what they would be willing to contribute. For example, would they be willing to be more open, patient and compassionate as well? However – keep in mind that this is an “inside job” and that you can still have inner peace regardless of what the other person decides to do. Perhaps it is you who needs to be more open, patient and compassionate with yourself, and the other person will naturally begin to show up that way towards you as well as a result of your own self-care.

It is important to understand that the above 8 steps are not about making you wrong and the other person right. It is about removing the “right/wrong” context entirely and simply focusing on peace so that you can create the experience that you truly desire rather that reacting to what is being thrown at you.

This does take practice and it is not about doing it perfectly. At the end of the day, it is all about forgiveness. Practice forgiving yourself on a regular basis and you will find it much easier to forgive others for when they are acting unconsciously.

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