Last update: 14 September, 2022
Conflicts arise when there is a disagreement or conflict in terms of values, ideas or interests between two or more people. The lack of agreement is not the conflict itself, but its cause. The actual conflict arises when this disagreement leads us to commit actions aimed at eliminating, neutralizing or minimizing the other party. Sometimes, however, neither side achieves this effect and unresolved conflicts crystallize.
Sometimes the fight happens in verbal terms. The goal, in this case, is to persuade or impose one's reasons on the interlocutor. Other times, conflicts result in direct action. The latter can be explicitly or implicitly violent. In all cases, the aim is always the same: one of the two positions must win and prevail over the other.
Nonetheless, in some circumstances neither side can win over the other. In these cases, there are three paths to take. The first consists in "turning the page", ignoring the conflict and reinforcing all the common points; a variant could be to solve the problem by constructing new agreements that take into account a part of each position.
The second path is the one that leads to setting limits and distancing: conflict puts an end to a bond. With the third way, however, the disagreement persists, which is maintained despite everything. In the latter case, the crystallization of the conflict occurs.
Unresolved conflicts crystallized
We speak of crystallized conflicts when a situation is created in which neither of the two parties involved can get the better of the other. In other words, a balance of forces is generated. However, instead of considering the conflict over, seeing that no one can win, it perpetuates itself. You learn to keep that situation as it is, without looking for a solution or putting an end to it.
These scenarios only occur when the basis of a relationship are strong bonds that unite the two parties. Otherwise, each of the two "involved" would simply move away from the problem or take actions aimed at keeping the distance from the other.
I unsolved conflicts that crystallize are characterized by a context of common agreements, values, ideas and interests. At the same time, however, there are also aspects or elements for which there is a disagreement. These types of conflicts are very common between couples, close friends or relatives.
It is clear that where human beings are, there are conflicts and many of them are not solvable. Despite this, we learn to overcome them. We know that someone disagrees with us on a certain subject, but instead of fueling a conflict, we don't give much importance to this friction. It is a healthy way to manage this kind of difficulty. What is not healthy, however, is to nurture disagreement and always take it to extremes.
Are there any solutions for unresolved conflicts?
There are always solutions for all human conflicts. Sometimes it just takes a little bit of goodwill. Without the latter, even the most trivial disagreements end up threatening a relationship. As for unresolved conflicts, both parties involved prefer not to give in rather than find a solution. The possibility of not imposing oneself on the other is seen as a serious loss.
A group of researchers from the University of Tel-Aviv, Jerusalem and Herzliya have discovered various interesting aspects. One of them reveals that when a person is deeply involved in one or more conflicts with another, he interprets the reasons that the latter exposes as threats. In other words, he thinks that giving the other person right would mean going against himself. He fears this will eventually overwhelm him.
On this basis, the researchers made a test. They showed some videos to a group of Israeli fanatics. The content of these videos was about their beliefs. The material gave credence to their beliefs about the Palestinians, in addition it took them to extremes. For example, the total disappearance of Muslims, their complete degradation and stoning by all countries of the world. So, the opinions of the researchers were not contradicted, but on the contrary, they were nurtured.
The result: everyone who saw these videos later showed themselves more willing to reevaluate their ideas. In other words, they paved the way for self-criticism. The best part was that this new attitude had been maintained over time. This is called "paradoxical thinking" and consists in the ability to admit that two opposite positions can coexist. Do you think it could be applied to personal life?