How Conflict-Averse People can Learn to Deal with Conflict

Say you start up the Super Mario World game on your Super Nintendo and are ready for a game night. Instead of just playing the game normally, you decide to make things a little more interesting. You decide that you will kill no creatures but the final boss.

As you start playing the game you find it increasingly difficult to remain a peaceful Mario. Even though you're being attacked and the enemy creatures are blocking your way — you still press on peacefully. However, the game is taking significantly longer to play which happens to kill the enjoyment.

This is what it's like to be conflict-averse in real life, whereby avoiding any form of conflict, it takes a much longer and exhaustive process to get the things you want. To put it bluntly, it's not easy being conflict-averse.

However, conflict-averse people don't have to keep things status quo. By learning a combat sport, they can get a crash course on how to deal with conflicts in general.

In this article, we're going to go over three ways that combat sports can help conflict-averse people. They are:

  • Building confidence in engaging with conflict.

  • Adaptability.

  • Trust that you will be fine in the end.

1. Confidence in engaging with conflict

One thing conflict-averse people lack is experience with conflict. Since they are used to running away from conflict and all its forms, they don't have any familiarity with it. As a result, the conflict will always be the boogeyman for conflict-averse people.

Yet, with combat sports, you are shown and taught to engage in combat with someone else. Be it sparring, drills with partners, etc. You have to face off against another person who is trying to defeat you in some way.

In combat sports, you can't easily just give up or run away from the activities.

If you are in the gym, you have to take part in the activities. But funny enough, when you take part in the activities and get more acquainted with the sport. You start to realize that combat is not that bad. Mind you, it requires a lot of effort but facing off against a wide variety of people, all competing for the same goal of winning their drills or matches. It doesn't seem too foreign to want to win yourself. You see that it's part of the sport and there is no shame in competition.

And this translates into your real-life where you understand that people will naturally compete for things and conflicts arise out of it. So when you have to take part in a disagreement at work or have a hard talk with a significant other. It's a little easier to be confident knowing that conflict is just part of the process of getting the things you want.

That being said, another thing that combat sports teach you is adaptability.

2. Adaptability

One of the things that conflict-averse people struggle in disputes is randomness and chaos. Because there is so much going on when people are quarreling, it can be overwhelming.

So to be safe, conflict-averse people tend to run away. But this too can also be corrected. Like building confidence with conflicts, combat sports can teach you about adaptability. And the reason for this is that no training session is ever the same.

Anytime you have a drill or a sparring session, you are going through cycles of different partners. And every partner is going to have their own level, fitness, etc. So just because one thing worked against one opponent doesn't mean it will work on the next.

So you have to adapt to each partner.

This hones your combat skills but it also develops your mentality with adaptability. When you are in combat, you are strategizing, making calculations, keeping tabs on yourself, and more. This thinking process after a while becomes intuition. So when you face new opponents, your intuition comes in to help you adapt to your competitor and execute your strategy.

So when you engage in disagreements in the real world, you too will be able to adapt to the situation, no matter how volatile it is. You will be able to gauge the individual that has friction with you, their issues, your issues, etc. And even though it might be intense, you know you can be flexible and change with the situation.

It's amazing what you can learn with combat sports.

The things that seemed so scary to us conflict-averse people become just a part of the process for dealing with conflict. But despite all this, one of the most important things that combat sports can teach conflict-averse people is that no matter what happens, they will be just fine.

3. Understanding that you will come out okay

One of the scary parts about starting a combat sport is getting hurt. Say you start boxing and are a little afraid of getting punched. You wonder if it's going to hurt, will you get a black eye, etc. However, once you go into sparring and get punched for the first time, you quickly realize that it's not that bad.

In fact, it seemed a lot worse in your head.

So with this new enlightenment, you are able to approach your sparring sessions with more confidence knowing that for the most part, you're going to be okay.

And that's one of the best things I discovered from combat sports, that despite the conflicts and disagreements you face in life, you inherently know you will be just fine. I think it has to do with confidence and adaptability to conflict. These mental features of combat sports instill the wisdom that with all the ups and downs in life, you are going to be okay.

This helps conflict-averse people in the real world.

Since one of the reasons they run away from conflict is because they think they will be worse off with it. Even if they have a moral right to engage in conflict, they will still run away because they are afraid it will hurt them.

But if you take a punch in a boxing gym, you can easily see that you didn't die. And if you decide to disagree with a colleague on a project, you too will know that you are going to be fine either way.

Life, like combat sports, is psychological.

So if you are able to deal with conflict and overcome your tendencies to run away, then you will be able to get a lot more out of life. Even though you might have some losses or misses, you will still come out fine. Leading to do more and not shy away from the natural conflicts that come out, like asking someone out on a date, standing up for yourself, disagreeing with a superior, etc.

At the core of it, conflicts are roughly the same. So combat sports do a good job showing conflict-averse people how to deal with disputes.

But I probably sound like the High Priest of Combat sports.

And you're wondering if you can learn about conflict without combat sports. I know it seems like a drag to go and join a combat sports gym to learn about conflict. I will admit that there are lots of ways to learn about dealing with quarrels and all.

But with combat sports, it's in a controlled environment.

You can make mistakes, learn, get inspiration, etc. But outside the combat sport gym, you are not going to have a controlled environment. So there is no guarantee you can learn about conflict in a safe manner.

I know this sucks, but it's a reality.

You have to be wise with how you learn some skills. And if we're being honest, combat sports gives you so much more than just learning about conflict. It shows you how persistence, strategizing, heart are all part of moving forward in life, but I'll explain that in another article.

What I will explain in this article is how one of the kindest and well-mannered MMA legends is able to deal with conflict. Even though he hates fighting and used to be bullied.

I'm talking about George St-Pierre (aka GSP).

If you ever meet or speak with GSP, you can see he is a very kind fellow and you would be shocked to know that he knocked out people for a living. Yet, if you see how GSP deals with conflicts outside of physical fighting, you can see that it doesn't bother him too much. Whether it was disagreements with Dana White (UFC President) on anti-doping measures or opponents making fun of his French accent. GSP was able to stick to his principles and not waver at all. Even though the conflicts caused him discomfort, disappointment, and time away from the sport, he did not ever walk away from a conflict where he felt he was right.

And I'm confident that his combat sports training is what helped him learn how to deal with conflicts in real life. Mind you, GSP was never vile when he engaged in conflicts. But you saw the confidence, adaptability, and the trust that he was going to be fine.