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Conflict is a word that most associate with a negative connotation.  The definition itself makes individuals defensive - a competitive or opposing action of incompatibles; antagonistic state or action (as of divergent ideas, interests, or persons); mental struggle resulting from incompatibles or opposing needs, drives, wishes, or external internal demands.  We become defensive in the face of conflict and express our position even stronger, only to gain little except a higher level of stress.

However, conflict is necessary for growth.  Nothing comes into being or develops without some form of conflict.  Think of it this way - conflict is anything that challenges a current state of being.  For example, each one of you reading this were born only after conflict occurred.  If you don't believe it, ask your mother about what she felt during labor.  A butterfly isn't born one.  It becomes one after conflict.  A frog is born a tadpole and, when nature allows, conflict creates the need for a change.  An alcoholic deals with conflict daily.  The force of wanting that drink but knowing what will happen if he or she does.

So many of us expect to grow and develop easily, yet run at the first sign of conflict.  Here, I'm not talking about physical conflict, although it could be present.  Conflict occurs when two opposing sides push against each other.  Movement only occurs when the force of one is greater than the other.  Growth and development cannot occur without one force being stronger than the other.

Four Positive Outcomes of Conflict:

Reason #1:     Changes Your Status Quo

You've talked to individuals who say, "I hate change."  They want something better but don't want to have to change to get it.  As humans, we like balance.  Yet you cannot move forward without some kind of change.  The status quo is comfortable, however, no one ever accomplished great feats staying with the status quo.

Reason #2:     Creates Space for New Paradigms

Our paradigms guide out thinking and interpretation of information.  We learn them from institutions throughout our life, such as parents, school, community, teachers, church, etc.  Conflict helps us evaluate our paradigms and determine the need to change them.  If you want to change your life, change the way you think.  Our paradigms are comfortable, yet conflict challenges them and helps us grow. Conflict creates the need to examine ourselves and our motives.

Reason #3:     Sharpens Your Negotiation Skills

Conflict creates the need for negotiation.  Any change creates the necessity for negotiation.  Moving from one state to another requires a shift in our thinking.  Therefore, we must negotiate the new states and the new rules of engagement that come with it.

Reason #4:     Creates New Boundaries

If the old state is being confronted and the need for change is realized, new boundaries in a new state must be recognized, negotiated, and measured.  Moving from one state to another means that you've grown.  Therefore, your boundaries have expanded.  You should be able to take on more responsibility, new challenges, and new ideas.

Many fear conflict.  However, as it is a natural part of life, to realize any growth in your personal development, you must accept and negotiate conflict in your thinking, paradigms, and behavior.  Don't be afraid of it.  When it calls, it has recognized a need.  It wants to prune you, which allows your to bring forth more fruit.

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