Some people never reach their true potential because they are afraid of conflict. Women often let their biggest opportunities pass for fear of having to defend their position in something like a salary negotiation or pitching an idea for funding.
We avoid battles everywhere. Despite not enjoying cooking we might bake for the school cake sale, rather than say no. We’ll reluctantly organise our aunt’s birthday party despite not being close with her. And worse still, we procrastinate on our business ideas because we’re avoiding a potential family conflict.
Avoiding conflict will stop you achieving your own goals and dreams.
When we dodge challenging situations we avoid our own truth. Many women are eager to please as this was our survival strategy centuries ago. Women were expected to be submissive and not cause trouble. Be a nice girl. Don’t make a fuss. Don’t cause a scene. We learned to stay still and stay silent. And some women still carry this mindset deep in their hearts.
- Do you forego opportunities just to keep the peace?
- Do you say ‘yes’ when you want to say ‘no’?
- Are you always the one who steps in to help and sort things out?
If you answered ‘yes’ to one or more of these questions you may be avoiding conflict subconsciously.
Gisella shared her story. She said every time she brought up her business idea her husband told her that now was not the right time to pursue it. (She burst into tears sharing this.)
This was a battle she wasn’t ready to enter into. It broke my heart listening to her story of how she always faced a dead end when she wanted to move forward. She, as so many women, got stopped.
Yet choosing to put her own life on the back burner was killing her inside. I don’t know her personally nor her circumstances, but prolonging that conversation was likely increasing her resentment to her marriage.
You can’t diffuse situations by avoiding them. That’s not winning. That’s escaping. That’s effectively prisoning yourself to a life that’s not fully yours.
What she could have done is think how she could win this confrontation without a battle.
The first step is to go back to your centre, back to your truth, your life’s purpose.
She could have explained to her husband why starting this business was so important for her. She could have shared her values and purpose with him. She could have talked about her ideal outcome and how she’d like to live sharing her time between her family and what she wanted to build. Together they could have found a solution and made it work.
Perhaps her husband knew nothing about her dreams! I’ve heard many stories where women assume that nobody wants to hear their ideas. We assume the other person will say no or that we will be laughed at. Very often this unconscious conditioning is unfounded. People around us do want to support us.
Unless we tell the world what we want we will endlessly undermine ourselves and at the end we may start resenting our career and our life.
If Giselle shared her dreams and why her ideas were so important for her wellbeing, and her husband then had no compassion for how she wished to live her life, that’s another story. Everything that happens to us originates from our earlier choices, including our relationships. As a general rule of thumb: don’t marry men who don’t want to share your dreams. (Sorry to be blunt!)
Next time you find yourself avoiding conflict, go back to your ‘why’. What if you shared why your project/ idea/ proposal was so important for you. You don’t have to prove yourself or have the last word, simply share your point of view and allow others to have theirs. Common ground will emerge between people who are on a similar mission and want to pursue similar goals. If no common ground exists you may want to reconsider your environment and whether the people around you are ‘your people’?