Dealing with Conflict and Anxiety

April 27, 2023 Rizza Bermio-Gonzalez

I've learned something about anxiety and conflict. For fear of the discomfort that accompanies conflict, I will often try to do my best to avoid any situation that might result in opposition, tension, or some sort of disagreement.

The problem with this is, though, that this can sometimes impede effective communication. For example, I may end up not saying things that I want to say or setting boundaries that I should or want to set simply because I am trying to avoid a conflict. I may also end up "people pleasing" just to avoid getting into a disagreement.

Anxiety makes this even more problematic because, when involved in a conflict or disagreement, it doesn't just feel uncomfortable; it also results in anxious feelings, possibly even to the point of panic. So, it quite literally becomes physically uncomfortable.

Why Conflict Causes Anxiety

There are a few reasons that I feel I experience anxiety when I encounter conflict, such as:

  1. The fear of failure -- I tend to have perfectionist standards that are associated with, of course, my anxiety. And so if I end up in a confrontation with someone, where I am basically being told that I am wrong, this touches the nerve that is afraid of failure. As a result, I am scared of feeling I don't meet my high expectations for myself, which causes me to feel anxious.
  2. Social anxiety -- Because I may struggle with anxiety in social situations, I may also find myself overthinking what could go wrong if I disagree with someone. I also end up with fears about being misunderstood due to not communicating my thoughts and feelings effectively. However, this becomes counterintuitive as well because I may start feeling anxious about not being able to freely express myself even before I've had the opportunity to do so.
  3. Not being assertive -- I learned not to be assertive growing up, and it is also a rule I've slowly worked on freeing myself from. As I've increasingly learned about the importance of asserting myself over the years, and even more so about the importance of establishing healthy boundaries in the process, I've worked on communicating about these things more effectively.

How I Deal with Conflict When It Causes Anxiety

So how do I overcome this fear of conflict and confrontation because of anxiety? First of all, I identify what the issue at hand is. Additionally, I identify what my boundaries are concerning the problem and what I need to speak up about.

I also identify any irrational thought patterns, such as catastrophizing or fortune-telling, that may lead me to think that something really negative is or will be happening when it would be impossible to tell that.

Lastly, I approach any conflict slowly. I've found that engaging in an uncomfortable discussion or confrontation in a slow, step-by-step manner helps me to stay calm and think more rationally throughout the process.

Are there strategies that you use to help you deal with conflict that causes anxiety? If so, share them in the comments below.

APA Reference
Bermio-Gonzalez, R. (2023, April 27). Dealing with Conflict and Anxiety, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 25 from

Author: Rizza Bermio-Gonzalez

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