With long-term lockdown, people tend to be at home most of the time with the same people every day, increasing the level of tension. Even if we don’t want to participate in conflict, it can still occur. I talk to Tamika Morris, an interactive and integrative therapist, about conflict resolution during the pandemic – how to resolve it, how to avoid it, and what to do if a conflict cannot be resolved.

1.      Tamika, can you tell us a bit about your background to introduce

 I am a Las Vegas native and I enjoy education and connecting with
others. Living and working in Las Vegas helps you develop a unique skill
set because we are both diverse and transient. Most importantly
resourceful. Just like my city my specialties are unique, however I have
found it most rewarding and helpful when working with patients to be
someone they can relate to and identify as a human being. What has worked best for me in my practice is I have the opportunity to be authentic and non traditional in my practice.
I have a background in special education and clinical mental health
services. My specialty is Marriage and Family Therapy. I specialize in
trauma in first responders, unique workplace dynamics, casino workers,
children and anxiety In athletes and graduate students. These areas of
specialty developed over time as I worked in different environments and
received training in these unique areas. Although my specialties are
diverse, they share a few common areas of concerns at their core which is
is trauma, anxiety and depression.

2.      With long-term lockdown, people tend to be at home most of the
time with the same people every day. Do you feel that the level of tension is increasing at home generally?

Yes. I am learning that people have a hard time being alone, since they struggle with this it increases the challenge to be with others. I have noticed that isolation is intense and is a trigger for various unhealthy and toxic behaviors/ activities.

3.      What do you recommend to decrease these levels of tension?

Learn to regulate your stress. 1) Don’t just say “I’m stressed” – put your feelings into words. If you are not aware and accepting of your own feelings, then you won’t connect with the feelings of the people around you. You may even shut them down because you don’t allow your own.  2) identify your triggers and check in with each emotion: guilt, shame, helplessness, despair, irritation, anger, inadequacy, confusion, disconnection, loneliness, ambivalence, as well as gratitude, love, respect, and compassion. 3) know that thriving doesn’t always mean productive.

4.      You are a specialist in Conflict Resolution. If a conflict has
already occurred, what steps do you recommend to resolve it peacefully?

Call a sensible friend while on a long walk. In our socially distanced
times this movement is good for our bodies and our friendships. Set
boundaries and stick to them. There is no need to compromise our
psychological and physical health and safety for people who will not
respect our boundaries especially now. Resist advice to be only forward
looking. Now is a time to revisit stories that have been passed on in our
families and cultures about adversity and resilience. Unplug from social
media. I noticed that social media triggers intense conflict in
relationships. If you combine isolation with anxiety and limited outlets
(eg: social media) is a recipe for conflict.

5.      Are there different types of conflicts?

Yes there are several types of conflict. To name a couple, I will start with the most important, the core internal conflict. Internal conflict is the negative dialogue we have in our minds that doesn’t align with our environments. A lot of times conflict is triggered by insecurity, comparison and rejection. When someone experienced internal conflict, they don’t like this experience because it consumes them so they will often project that onto someone else which triggers an argument and sometimes it escalates to a physical altercation.
Another type of conflict is a relational. In relationships we are sometimes
not on the same page because we have different ideas in mind. This small
area makes a huge impact because it affects; families, marriages,
friendships, professional environments and faith environments. Sometimes
these conflicts cause a separation, an ending, and other times it can
motivate positive change and bridge gaps in communication and interactions.

6.      Can you share various conflict resolution strategies?

Define Acceptable Behavior. Don’t Avoid *Conflict*. Talk and work through it with space and breaks in between. Choose a Neutral Location to reduce the pressure and reference by changing the environment this interaction takes place. This will hold everyone involved accountable because others are watching. Start with a Compliment and pause after this. Use “I
statements” when this happens, I feel_. Using I statements removes blame
and shift the focus off the person/group to the problem. Don’t Jump to
Conclusions. Think Opportunistically, Not Punitively. When appropriate
and warranted Offer Guidance, Not Solutions. Use Constructive Criticism
without the sting.

7.      If you feel that a person is not listening to you, what is the
right thing to do?

Pause and take a few deep breaths. After collecting yourself call the persons name and address them. Ask them to listen to understand not to depend.

8. Is it possible that a conflict cannot be resolved?

Yes it is possible a conflict cannot be resolved. Sometimes you have to agree to disagree and find a compromise/ common ground and move forward. Keep in mind the key to moving forward in this state is accepting this. Are there any markers of this type of conflict? This type of conflict happens daily. If you pay attention to what’s happening in the media, in your work environment, in your families, homes, friendships, intimate relationships, it is all around you. What do you recommend in this situation? I recommend assessing yourself in the situation. Conflict isn’t about the other person it’s about you. We cannot control someone else’s responses to us, however we can control how we respond and what we respond to. Here are some questions to ask I’m your self assessment. what is it about this moment that makes me feel (and fill in the blank) ? Is there some truth to what this person is saying?  Is this person mirroring something I have done or said in the past when I wasn’t my best self? Here’s a disclaimer; This will not apply in every situation or relationship. Sometimes we are not the cause of what we experience. These are some general questions and tips to help identify where you may be in the moment and identify your part in the conflict.

9.      What tips can you recommend to avoid any conflict and to
safeguard your mental health?

It is best not to avoid conflict because when you do it’s delaying what will eventually happen which intensifies the conflict in that moment. I recommend assessing yourself, the environment, use clear and open communication and listen to understand where the person is coming from
instead of reacting. This is difficult to do however because it is the
value of resolution is increased. This teaches us where the disconnect lies
and if we pay close attention it exposes our heart issues, which gives us
the opportunity for growth. This makes the greatest impact.

10.     How can our readers contact you and follow on social media?

You can go to my website: www.morristherapyandconsultingllc.com to join my newsletters, schedule appointments for therapy and consulting. You can find me on Instagram @morrristherapy for educational and relatable content.

11.     Finally, can you please share your motto and your favourite quote
to cheer people up?

My favorite quote is by The late Dr. Maya Angelou:
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor and some style.” My motto is; surround yourself with the community who can respect, support and understand your need to be your authentic self because you’re worth it.