What to Do When Unresolved Conflict Keeps You Up at Night
Let’s begin by stating the obvious. Sleep is important. Really important. Regular sleep patterns have a positive impact on our physical and mental health. Here are just a few reasons why:
- Improved memory, focus, concentration
- Strengthened immune system
- Reduced inflammation
- Lowered stress
- Help in maintaining healthy weight
- Prevention of depression
The list could go on and on. We need our sleep. Therefore, we must be extra careful to not let anything interfere with it. This includes the unresolved conflicts we experience.
How Do Unresolved Conflicts Happen?
The situation doesn’t always begin with a fight or argument. All you need is a disagreement without closure. If either of you are unwilling or unable to seek solutions, the conflict remains unresolved. There are many reasons for this lack of closure. For example, one of you may:
- Shut down, become silent, refuse to engage
- Respond from a place of intense emotion
- Lack the skills to discuss productively
- Be unwilling to budge
The end result is often lingering anxiety. You find yourself tossing and turning. Even when you can sleep, it’s not restful. During waking hours, you fixate on the conflict. Clearly, something has to be done before your health begins to suffer
7 Steps to Take When Unresolved Conflicts Keep You Up at Night
1. Recognize and accept that a conflict exists
There are times when a conflict goes unresolved thanks to denial. One or both of you simply won’t accept that a problem exists. A good first step is to make sure this is not happening. There is no chance for finding a solution until both parties recognize the problem. If you can’t sleep night after night, ask yourself why? Be brutally honest with yourself.
2. Identify the cause, look beyond the incident
What is the source of the conflict? This is rarely an isolated incident. The odds are that an underlying issue is present. This step is a two-parter. We must also look past a singular event to see the deeper causes of disagreement.
3. Practice self-care
It’s bad enough that your sleep is disturbed. Do not neglect other aspects of your health. Settling conflicts requires you to be at your best. Some basics:
- Regular exercise
- Meditation and stress management
- Healthy eating habits
4. If the conflict is with your child, learn to listen
Parents may be certain they know what’s best for their children. However, you may never find solutions with your child until you listen. Hear them out before settling on your opinion. Many children know what they feel and why they feel that way.
5. Apologize, if necessary
Avoid phrases like “I apologize if I offended you” or “I’m sorry you feel that way.” An authentic apology requires us to take full responsibility for our actions. We must also express sincere remorse and promise to take steps to not let it happen again.
6. Forgive, if necessary
It’s been said that resentment is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die. Unless you want the relationship to end, it will become necessary to express forgiveness. Request an authentic apology (see above) and seek out ways to move forward.
7. Seek out a counselor
When an unresolved conflict impacts your sleep, you may need help. The situation may be bigger than the two of you can handle. Find a therapist. Get input for yourself alone. Even better, you can go to counseling together.
A counselor can mediate and point out patterns you may be missing. You will learn skills to help you deal with future disagreements.
Unresolved conflict is stressful and a sleep-stealer. Your mind and body deserve better. Reach out to the other party in your dispute or call a therapist for mediation. Restore relationships where you can and improve your health for a better future.