How Do You “Work” Through Conflict and Emotional Upset?

You’re in the midst of a conflict with your spouse, your best friend, one of your team members, a parent or a sibling, a child … how do you “work” through it?

I use work in quotes here because I really do mean both aspects of work, the inner work of the emotional upset and the outer work of putting your Great Work into service.

I know many of my clients struggle with this … staying in service to the outer work when the inner work is raging.  And it’s one of the things I’m best able to help them with because I’ve dealt with it so much in my own life.

I’ve experienced a lot of turmoil over the years.  Inner conflict, outer conflict.  And I’ve worked through all of it.

It first became a big issue for me when I was going through my divorce while at the same time building my law firm.

I found that back then I could use work as an escape from the emotional upset.  The more he triggered me, the more I focused my energy and attention on work.

To do that, I numbed out.  I didn’t feel the feelings that were coming up. I avoided them.

Now that I am becoming more and more in touch with my emotional body, I am finding it more difficult to focus on work when I am experiencing conflict or emotional upset.

Putting my head down and focusing on work doesn’t seem to work anymore.

I’m supposed to be writing copy. Lots of copy. Copy for the big call I’m hosting on 12/31 about building a business around your Great Work, copy for my new Eyes Wide Open Action Guide, copy for my next Powerful Feminine Leader group, copy, copy, copy and I find myself unable to focus due to some emotional stuff I’m working through.

Where I used to become MORE focused on work around emotional upset and conflict, now I find myself less creative, less able (or willing) to push through.

My mind tells me this is a problem. “Danger, danger … this is why I’ve helped you with the numbness.  Why’d you have to go screw it all up by dropping our defenses?”  it yells at me.

My body says “go take a bath and relax.”  There will be plenty of time to write later.  Take some time to feel your sadness, be with it, bring tenderness to it.  See what happens when you do that.  Maybe your writing will be even better and come even more easily.

So that’s what I’m going to do. Even though my mind says to push through like I’ve always done and get back to work.

I’m going to take some time for the inner work and trust it’ll enhance how I’m able to bring my Great Work to the world.

So what about you?

How do you “work” through conflict and emotional upset?  I’d love to hear.


  1. Julie Anne JonesFriday, December 10, 2010 at 3:45 am 

    This is an extremely timely post for me, Alexis. I started my morning with an angry e-mail from a very close friend over something completely trivial. I typed a reasoned and loving response and tried to get started with my day. I’m right where you are…I have a brand new program launching in about a month, I’m working on a new business, and my goal for today was to write copy as well. It was a huge challenge, but I kept taking a break, working through a little more of the emotion, getting back to work, taking a break, etc.

    My biggest problem is that when I’m embroiled in emotional turmoil, especially in a situation where someone is attacking me or challenging who I am and how I show up, my gremlin starts to work on me, my old fears come up, and I start to question myself in all aspects of my life and business. It helped immensely when my partner came home after work and affirmed not only me and his love for who I am, but his take on the ridiculousness of the whole situation.

    Thanks for your insights. They helped me a little tonight. Hope you feel better soon.

  2. Tiffany PetersonFriday, December 10, 2010 at 10:59 pm 

    BEAUTIFUL POST… I am interested in this as well… and what I do is a number of things… love this kind of “work” stuff 🙂
    *I remind myself I am totally okay for feeling whatever I am feeling… and it is not of the “now”… it is somethi…ng from the past that is unhealed.
    *I validate my own feelings and understand myself for feeling them, anyone would if they were in my shoes.
    *I remind myself that I am whole/perfect/divine/all loving/all joyful/all peaceful/all abundant/all powerful.
    *I forgive myself for feeling anything that makes me believe (even for a second) otherwise.
    *I forgive and focus on all parties involved.
    *I walk myself through a series of meditative steps to reclaim my energy in the now.
    *Then I’m silent, I wait… fully trusting, all is being released that needs to be, shedding like the leaves in autumn, I breathe… deeply.

    I have always felt a huge shift, a huge release, huge healing… and I remind myself to be gentle with myself. (we tend to be so hard on ourselves, don’t we?)

    *Sometimes I write too… I have been told there is a neurological release that comes from your heart down your arm to the pen on the paper… and I walk through the same process.
    *Sometimes I remind myself that this is not real, just an illusion, a reflection of the truth I believe it to be.

    sending you blessings and peaceful healing in your time of sadness…. and big hugs too. you are love ♥

    p.s. i have read books that lead me to these steps… if you are interested in the names, i’m happy to share 🙂

  3. Chuck RylantSaturday, December 11, 2010 at 4:23 am 

    Exercise works best for me. Although when I’m tired, frustrated, or the very last thing I want to do is workout, sometimes dragging myself out to do a hard workout changes everything.

  4. Sarah YFriday, December 17, 2010 at 12:34 pm 

    Trust that your Self knows what’s best for you. Pushing through might give you a short-term gain, but always backfires at some point.

    Emotions come in 90 second waves, just like labor. They crest and then they pass and you have a bit of a break. Sometimes another one comes close on the heels of the last one, but you’ll always get a break. Leaning into the waves and letting them wash is the quickest way through this stuff. Leaning in is actually a whole lot more efficient than pushing through.


  5. Renae BellahMonday, December 20, 2010 at 10:40 pm 

    Great post Alexis!

    Lately I’ve been keeping my life full with projects that I am excited about, but also doing a lot of emotional and energetic work too. The best thing that has happened for me is becoming aware of my Pusher Self… the voice that says you should be doing this or that even when it’s not what I want to be doing in that moment. I’m able to distinguish that voice now from my Intuituve Self who has great ideas and suggests things that I could be doing.

    That’s the trick. When I hear myself (or someone else) telling me that I should be doing something I stop, take a breath and check in to see what I could be doing that would be better for me instead. When I follow the Intuitive voice I still get the things done that I have to and in a way that is less stressful and often leads to even bigger and better things than if I had just pushed through.

    Love & Light

  6. Kathy8185Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 3:10 am 

    I have a couple of things I do. I find writing in my journal about my problem, feelings frustrations is a big help. The other thing I do is a grounding exercise. I find part of my problem when I do get emotionally hijacked is that I become ungrounded. Grounding myself is a big, big help

  7. Karen McMillanTuesday, January 11, 2011 at 8:11 pm 

    Thank you, Alexis. Nice to have “permission” to slow down and be with who we are at any given moment. I too found that “pushing through” did not work. I would get things done, but not well and always felt drained. Allowing myself to be with my feelings does bring more creativity. thanks for always sharing and leading with your heart. Namaste’

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