Conflict can drudge up your terror, impound your sense of humour, and peel off your courage like a blow torch on paint.

There’s no way around conflict, you can only go through it. So don’t stay up at night trying to reframe it into something more palatable, as if taking your medicine is actually fun. Because when you exert energy trying to make it way less agonizing — you’re fighting the inevitable. Face it. It sucks. Go from there.

We try to make conflict softer for the person we’re struggling with for a few reasons: It’s an innately compassionate gesture (humans are so lovely that way). And, it’s a way of protecting ourselves from the backlash of being disliked or branded The Bad Guy. Trying to soften the blow is a natural love and defense mechanism.

Of course, sweet Jesus, be as kind as you can, but it’s actually not your responsibility to manage the other person’s reactions in times of conflict. You need to focus on managing our own feelings and heart rate.

(Obvious statement leading to a possibly not-so-obvious statement): The meta-purpose of conflict isn’t to help bring us closer — though that can be the transcendent result.

Conflict exists to delineate and clarify “self” from “other”.

Conflict demands acuity and boundaries from us. It asks us to be separate. And that is precisely why it hurts. And, that is precisely how it can heal us as individuals.