top of page

Six Steps to Identifying Your Feelings During Conflict

Image of young child, fists to eyes, as if trying to stop crying.

Think about the last time you were upset with someone. I don't mean annoyed. Think of a time when you were offended, hurt, or downright angry. Do you know how you arrived at that place, or do you simply know you were there?

When you are upset with someone, it is important to determine exactly what you are upset about. What is going on inside of you? What is the conflict you are feeling really about for you? As I said in last week’s blog article, the past bleeds into the present, causing confusion about what one is feeling and how you interpret the situation. This exercise is helpful when you notice a mood change and you are not sure why.

First. think of the last time a situation rose to a level of conflict. If you can't remember one, here are three scenarios that may be helpful:

  • After a conversation with a friend, she talks to someone else about the conversation. You are highly offended that she talked about you to another person.

  • You started dating someone new. She is a mutual friend with a good friend of yours. Your friend tells you that they dated in the past. You are distressed.

  • You have a birthday luncheon and one of your good friends does not show and gives you no notice. You feel hurt, angry and slighted.

How to Identify What is Upsetting You in a Conflict

1. Take time to calm yourself and focus:

Find a comfortable place. Sit in a chair that can support your back and where you can put your feet firmly on the floor. Get comfortable. Let your eyes close, or focus them on something that is pleasant. Breathe slowly. Breathe in to a count of 5, hold that breath for 5 counts, and breathe out for 5 counts. This will help your body relax and bring your attention inside of yourself.

2. Think about the situation or mood that is troubling you:

Ask your self the following questions. The answers will help you identify the specifics of your concerns.

  • I know that I am upset because my mood has changed to: ________________

  • Do you have an unexplained feeling? Are you suddenly tired or sleepy?

  • Where in your body do you feel this?__________________________________

  • Specifically, how does that feel? Do you feel tightness or any other physical symptom?

3. Identify your feelings:

When I think of this situation, I feel _________________________.

When I identify this feeling, it tells me________________________.

4. Identify how you behave in conflict situations:

The way that I typically deal with these feelings and body symptoms is


5. Identify how the conflict affecting you:

It is a conflict between needs and wants, or a conflict between values and beliefs?

One quick way to identify which kind of conflict it is would to decide whether it is having a concrete effect on you. If it is, this is a conflict between needs and wants. If not, then it is a conflict between values and beliefs.

6. Decide how you need to deal with this situation:

What action do you need to take? Is a conversation enough? Is there something you need to address within yourself first?

Instead of dealing with their issues, most people avoid conflict by going into denial or blaming others for their feelings. Unresolved conflict erodes the foundation of honesty, goodwill and intimacy necessary for a healthy, happy relationship. It will eventually destroy a relationship.

Next week we will look at the step in resolving conflict.

bottom of page