In many cases, the path from conflict to resolution is like traveling down a dirt road in the country.
It's a little rough. Dirt might get in your eyes so that you don't see clearly what lies ahead. You have to go more slowly than you do in other situations. Once you are on the road, you have to keep going. It is too narrow to turn around and go back the other way.
At some point, you come to a fork in the road and you have to make a choice.
In the first few moments of a conflict situation, many of us (close to all of us) are prone to say and/or do things that make the conflict worse. When we perceive a threat, we go into “fight or flight” response and adrenaline takes over our brains. We do not act as calmly and rationally as we do at other times. This response often leads to an “I don't know why I said that” experience.
When you have an “I don't know why I said that” moment, you are on the dirt road.
You are on the dirt road before you even know what happened. You were in a conversation with someone, and, suddenly, the conversation turned and it got a little rough. You're not really sure what's going on.
Eventually, you regain your bearings. You start to realize that you're now on a dirt road (under the influence of adrenaline). The adrenaline rush makes it hard to see and think clearly, but you are now aware of where you are.
Then, you come to a “fork in the road.” You reach a point in the conversation where you have to make a choice to stay on the road or to take the right fork that leads you back to the main highway of resolution and positive interaction.
The moment of choice might not happen immediately. It might, in some cases, take a day or so to calm down enough to realize that you can choose a different path in this relationship.
Even if it takes awhile, the adrenaline will wear off. When it does, you cannot continue to claim: “I don't know why I said that.” You are no longer in the automatic and reactive mode.
After the heat of the moment passes, you can exercise your power of choice to act in better and more constructive ways. You can:
- explore alternative solutions
- engage in conversation, etc.
Human nature can make us prone to rationalize and justify our bad behaviors by blaming others and claiming that we had no other choice. The truth is that we almost always have a better and more positive option we can choose.
Remember to exercise your power of choice in conflict resolution.