Friday, 26 April 2013


Line of Control

     The most intimate relationships are the ones that are subject to deep emotional investment and hence, numerous conflicts. This may explain why forgiving your best friend is the most difficult thing to do and why talking back to your parents in the most hurtful way feels so effortless and in many cases, satisfying! Often in such instances, we feel like we have a version of the story to tell that the other party does not want to hear. The sense of injustice coupled with the feeling of being misunderstood makes us lash out even more and the problem escalates to unwarranted heights.

     It helps to remember that where intimate relationships like those with your family and close friends are concerned, expectations from all involved are so many, that the slightest let down generates feelings of disappointment and in more serious instances, resentment and anger. It is common to feel that a parent does not care when in reality they may be trying very hard to balance work and their relationship with you. It may even be the case that you are expected to perform excellently in ALL exams and the slightest dip in grades earns you a very disappointed headshake from your parents. A healthier alternative to having unspoken expectations is to have an open understanding as to what can be reasonably expected out of a certain person in a particular situation. For example, you could voice out to your busy parents that you would like them to be available at home over the weekends. A calm dialogue is one step towards achieving a desirable outcome.

     In situations where emotions run high and there is a threat of someone breaking down in tears or firing up with rage, it is advisable to stop all talking and calmly leave the situation. Taking refuge in separate rooms or going out for a walk gives one enough time to calm down and organise one’s thoughts. It is never a good idea to indulge oneself or others in a hostile argument as the chances for things to get offensive and damaging are high. It is important to remember that only if one has good control over one’s emotions, productive discussions and eventual resolution can be achieved.

     In situations where misunderstandings crop up easily, it is good practice to establish a few ground rules that state clearly what people cannot do or say in an argument. Rules such as “No name callings”, “Talk only in a calm tone”, etc can help contain an argument from escalating into a full-fledged fight. A commitment from all persons to stick to these rules is very important and you may discontinue the discussion if any of these rules are broken. Having such ground rules ensures a safe space for people to voice out their concerns in a threat-free environment where they feel respected and heard. Humour can be a great tension diffuser if used appropriately and without undermining anyone.

     You will find that conflicts- either everyday tiffs or critical hair-grabbing fights- resolve themselves seamlessly if we truly recognise that the problem is not the people involved, the problem is the problem itself. Once we realise this our thinking automatically becomes solution-focused and we can see what the other person needs and how best everyone’s interests can be supported.