Harmony Unleashed Part 3: Inward Bound

Brad Sharp
June 14, 2023
photo of a girl meditating by a lake

Photo by Le Minh Phuong on Unsplash

Part 3

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Inward Bound

Illuminating Your Role in Conflict Through Self-Reflection

Disputes are rarely one-sided. Acknowledging and accepting our part in a conflict is pivotal in reaching a positive outcome. It involves deep self-awareness and introspection to comprehend how your actions, words, or attitudes might have contributed to the conflict. It’s understanding that conflicts are a combination of external and internal factors. This acknowledgment is a challenging process. It takes courage to admit our contribution to a conflict. Yet, it’s a step that holds immense power. Acknowledging our part in a conflict to ourselves and others involved can help dissolve barriers, open communication channels, and move toward resolution.

The key here is to communicate our acknowledgment honestly, openly, and tactfully. It’s essential to own our actions without becoming defensive or shifting blame. Clear, respectful, and assertive communication can aid in this process.

Self-Awareness & Self-Reflection

Self-awareness offers insights into our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It assists in recognizing personal biases, triggers, and habitual patterns that may escalate conflict or hinder resolution. It illuminates the ways our actions affect others and how their actions affect us, guiding us to take responsibility for our part in the conflict. This increased self-knowledge empowers us to adapt our behaviors, manage our emotional responses, and communicate more effectively.

Self-reflection is the first step on the journey toward self-awareness. It aids us in identifying our strengths and weaknesses and uncovering any unconscious biases or patterns contributing to conflicts. It can help us develop greater emotional intelligence, enhance communication skills, and become more adept at navigating challenging situations. When we experience strong emotions such as anger, frustration, fear, or resentment, unmanaged or unexpressed emotions can fuel conflict escalation and lead to impulsive reactions, defensive behaviors, or a refusal to listen to the other party’s perspective. By regulating and expressing emotions constructively, we can prevent conflicts from spiraling out of control and maintain a respectful and productive atmosphere. 

A study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that individuals with a high level of self-awareness are more likely to engage in effective conflict resolution strategies, such as problem-solving and compromise than those with low self-awareness (Kuhnert, 1994). For instance, Rick often finds himself in conflicts with his team members over project deadlines and expectations. Through self-reflection, Rick realizes that his stress may contribute to the conflicts. Recognizing this, Rick can take responsibility for his actions, adjust his expectations, and develop a more collaborative approach to managing his team.

Core Values & Beliefs

Core values and beliefs serve as the underpinning for our thought processes and actions. They are formed through various influences, including cultural background, personal experiences, and societal norms, and act as guiding principles in our lives. For instance, someone who values harmony and cooperation may avoid conflict, sometimes to their detriment. Conversely, someone who values assertiveness and competition may be more likely to engage in conflict.

Core Values are the fundamental guiding principles that dictate what is right and worthwhile to us personally. They are deeply held convictions that provide a guiding light for our behaviors and decisions. They influence what we consider important, shape our attitudes, and help us determine our priorities in life. Core values include honesty, kindness, family, creativity, ambition, and independence.

Beliefs, on the other hand, are convictions or acceptances that certain things are true or real, even if they are not verifiable or provable. They are the lenses through which we interpret and understand the world around us. Beliefs can be about anything – from physical laws, societal norms, and spiritual matters to self-concepts. They often stem from our upbringing, culture, religion, and personal experiences. It’s important to note that while values are generally positive, beliefs can be positive or negative.

Because of their foundational nature, it’s essential to determine and understand your core values and beliefs before moving on to other areas of self-reflection. Use this basic process to get started:

Spend time thinking about your past decisions, actions, and feelings. What were the motivations behind them? Which principles or truths guided them?

Identify what’s truly important to you. What are the non-negotiable aspects of your life that give you a sense of fulfillment and purpose?

Challenge Your Beliefs
Ask yourself why you hold certain beliefs. Are they serving you well, or are they limiting your growth? Are they your own, or have they been imparted by someone else? This step can be challenging, but it’s critical for personal growth.

Write Them Down
Write down your core values and beliefs. Articulating them helps make them more concrete and gives you something to refer back to.

Our values and beliefs can evolve due to new experiences, knowledge, or life circumstances. It’s essential to re-evaluate them and make any necessary adjustments periodically.

While core values and beliefs provide the foundation for our moral compass and guide our decision-making, it is through an understanding of our behaviors, patterns, and triggers that we can grasp how these values manifest in real-life interactions. With a clear understanding of our core values and beliefs, we can delve deeper into the intricate connection between our inner values and outward actions. By examining the interplay between our internal compass and external responses, we gain valuable insights into our role in conflicts and, ultimately, more effective conflict resolution. 

Behaviors, Values & Triggers

Understanding behaviors, values, and triggers can help us discover how we may have contributed to a conflict. This understanding can also empower us to manage our emotions more effectively and prevent a conflict from escalating. When we better understand our behaviors, patterns, and triggers, we are not just reacting to situations but actively reflecting on and learning from them.

Behaviors greatly influence how conflicts unfold. Conflicts can escalate and damage relationships if we approach disagreements defensively or aggressively. Understanding our behavior in disputes allows us to recognize harmful tendencies, such as dismissing others’ perspectives or refusing to compromise. Approaching conflicts with empathy, openness, and respect facilitates constructive dialogues and positive outcomes. 

Certain behaviors can contribute to the emergence or escalation of conflicts, including aggressiveness, passive-aggressiveness, poor communication, defensiveness, avoidance, stubbornness, blaming, and finger-pointing. By identifying and addressing these behaviors, we can contribute to healthier interactions. Consider any behaviors that may have contributed to misunderstandings, tension, or escalation. Be open to acknowledging any mistakes, biases, or unhelpful patterns you may have exhibited.

Recognizing our Patterns in conflict can help us predict and manage our responses more effectively. Patterns often emerge from our underlying beliefs and values. They may include avoidance, accommodation, competition, or collaboration, each with consequences and impacts on conflict outcomes. 

Identifying and correcting negative patterns is essential in altering behavior and identifying areas for personal growth. For instance, if we consistently avoid conflict, we can work on developing the courage to face disagreements directly and express our feelings honestly. Identifying patterns also provides insight into the underlying issues contributing to these tendencies, such as past experiences or unresolved emotions, enabling us to address these root causes and transform our approach to conflict.

Triggers are specific events or behaviors that consistently provoke a strong emotional reaction. They often stem from past experiences or deep-seated fears and can profoundly impact our ability to manage conflicts effectively. For instance, perceived injustice may easily trigger someone with a strong belief in fairness.

We can better anticipate and control our responses during disagreements by identifying specific actions, words, or situations that lead to a disproportionately strong emotional reaction. For example, if being interrupted is a trigger, knowing this allows us to communicate this sensitivity to others and develop strategies to manage our response when it occurs. 

Take some time to consider the behaviors, patterns, and triggers that have negatively impacted your personal and professional relationships. Create an action plan to address these areas. Identifying the areas you want to work on and breaking them down into manageable parts makes it easier to focus on specific improvements. Set goals for improvement, and outline steps to change and develop healthier options. These goals may include seeking support, practicing self-regulation techniques, or learning new communication skills.


Feedback is a great way to improve the understanding of our contribution to a conflict. It serves as a mirror that provides insights into our behaviors, attitudes, and actions that we might not be able to see or understand from our perspective. It helps to identify problematic behaviors or communication styles that may contribute to conflicts. 

Feedback can help to reveal blind spots in our understanding or interpretation of a situation. How we perceive our own behavior may differ significantly from how others perceive it. In the heat of conflict, our view can become narrowly focused on our own needs or perspective. Feedback from others can broaden this view, providing a more comprehensive picture of the situation and highlighting areas of misunderstanding or miscommunication.

It’s important to note that for feedback to be effective, it must be delivered and received appropriately. It should be clear, specific, timely, and offered with the intent of helping, not hurting. Be open to feedback and see it as an opportunity for growth, not a personal attack. It’s often better to seek feedback after completing the self-reflection steps discussed earlier, because you’ll have a better frame of reference to evaluate it.

Using the wealth of information gained through self-reflection on our emotions, behaviors, patterns, triggers, core values, beliefs, and feedback, we can now leverage this understanding to create personal boundaries to guide us in navigating and resolving conflict. 


Boundaries define our limits, needs, and values and help us establish healthy and respectful relationships with others. In conflict situations, setting and communicating our boundaries allows us to protect our well-being, honor our values, and maintain a sense of self-respect. By clearly defining what is acceptable and unacceptable to us, we establish a framework for constructive communication and negotiation. 

Our boundaries also help us navigate conflicts by providing a reference point for understanding our own limits and expectations and those of others involved. They allow us to express our needs, assert our opinions, and advocate for ourselves calmly and assertively. By ensuring we don’t overextend ourselves or compromise our values, boundaries can help us to remain resilient, composed, and focused.

Establishing boundaries can also protect us from feeling compromised or overwhelmed during conflicts. When our boundaries align with our beliefs and values, they serve as a guiding compass during conflict resolution, helping us find solutions that are authentic, fair, and consistent with who we are. By clarifying our boundaries, we can communicate them assertively and respectfully to the other party involved, ensuring they understand our needs, expectations, and limits.

Conclusion of Part 3

Understanding our role in a conflict isn’t about self-blame or guilt but about awareness and responsibility. It’s about comprehending the dynamics of the conflict and acknowledging that we also have a part in it. By recognizing and taking responsibility for our role, we empower ourselves to manage our emotions more effectively, improve our communication skills, and contribute constructively to the resolution process. This approach promotes stronger, healthier relationships and promotes personal growth and transformation. Through self-awareness and self-reflection, we can develop the skills and mindset to navigate conflicts with grace, empathy, and resilience.

In part four of this series, we’ll learn how to create supportive spaces for conflict discussions that lead to better outcomes. Sign up for our emails if you’d like to have it delivered directly to your inbox.

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About Brad

Hi, I'm Brad, the founder of Sierramind. My own transformational journey taught me that I am the architect of my own destiny and that the things I think and do in the present moment determine the quality of my future. With that as the foundation of my mindset, everything changed!

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