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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Dealing with Conflict-Step 1- Staying Calm

To remain calm in a conflict situation is the most important thing because only if you are calm can you work through the situation. If you remain calm, you will not let your angry feelings take hold of you and you will be able to be more rational. Staying calm is the first step to dealing with anger and conflict because nothing else can be achieved if you are not calm.

However; as many of us have experienced it is often difficult to stay calm. In conflict situations we can feel anger and aggression, which very often take over. If we just say that we will stay calm, we often don’t because anger gets the best of us. Therefore, we need to train ourselves to stay calm, so that we will be in control of the situation and the situation won’t be in control of us. This is important because when we are calm we have more options open to us, and can think more clearly.

It's a good idea to train yourself to be calm all of the time, not only in a conflict situation. The more you practice to be calm in everyday situations, the less likely it will become for you to react negatively in a conflict situation. Practising to be calm will help you in many different situations. At first you will find it strange to practise how to be calm, but after a while it will become easier as you become more accustomed to it.

Here's a simple relaxation exercise that you can practise doing. Before doing the exercise, rate your level of calmness:

Rate the following:

“How tense, angry, frustrated, etc. am I feeling at the moment?”


VC                                       A                                       EAT
VC= very calm
EAT= Extremely Angry and Tense

This rating should also be done after the relaxation exercise in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the exercise.

Mindful breathing


1. Sit in a comfortable position.
2. Close your eyes.
3. Breathe in and out normally.
4. Focus all your attention on your breathing.
5. Feel the air pass through your nose as you breathe in.
6. Feel your lungs inflate as you inhale.
7. Feel the movement of your stomach as you breathe in.
8. Feel the air pass through your nose as you breathe out.
9. Feel your lungs deflate as you breathe out.
10. As you breathe, mentally say the words, “breathe in, breathe out”.
11. If your mind wanders and any thoughts come to mind, acknowledge the thought and then re-focus on your breathing. This may happen many times. Each time just acknowledge the thought and focus again on your breathing.

This can be done very easily in everyday situations in a less formal manner, and it is especially helpful when you are angry.

Tip to remember while doing this: As you exhale remember that anger comes from shaytaan and as you exhale, so too are you exhaling the negative energy which is making you angry.

Indeed, anger is from the evil and, without doubt, the evil is created from the Fire. Only water can extinguish fire. Therefore, if anyone of you feels the rush of anger. Let him perform ablution”, and “When you feel angry, keep silent.” {Hadeeth of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW)}

The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) has been reported to have said:
“For the person who restrains his anger, Allah will restrain punishment over him on the day of Resurrection”.

Hope that practising this step goes well, dealing with conflict step 2 to follow soon insha'Allah

4 Steps to Dealing with Conflict

By now we have a good enough idea of what conflict is, what some reasons for conflict are, etc. Insha'Allah in the next few posts I plan to put up a 4 step approach to dealing with conflict. This approach is just a guideline and people should adapt it and use it within their own lives in the most suitable way.

Hope all the steps help you to deal with conflict more effectively!!!


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What is Conflict?

Insha'Allah in the next few posts we will be focussing on conflict management as a follow up to anger management, as both are very closely related.

What is conflict

“Conflict is an interpersonal process that occurs whenever the actions of one person interfere with the actions of another.”

“Conflict is a psychological state of indecision, where the person, is faced simultaneously with two opposing forces of equal strength that cannot be solved together”.

“Conflict is a cognitive-affective process: it influences the emotions and the mind”.

In our everyday lives we are often faced with conflict. This can take the form of disagreements, clashes, struggles, fights and arguments. It is important to note that conflict can be either positive or negative. It may lead to the resolution of a situation, likewise it can also lead to a worsening of the situation, and perhaps even to violence and death.

The difference between anger and conflict

The basic idea that needs to get across here is that “anger” is an emotional state that occurs on an individual level whereas “conflict” occurs on an emotional, cognitive and physical level. Conflict usually occurs between people. (Although inner conflict within the person does also occur). Conflict usually occurs between two opposing groups or persons. It can perhaps be said that conflict is a reaction to anger, so anger comes first and conflict follows.

Reasons/ Causes for conflict

Sometimes conflict occurs on a larger scale. For instance, conflict can occur between social groups, race or religious groups, between governments, institutions and even between countries. Some of the reason for this type of conflict is discussed below.

Differing Goals
The most obvious source of conflict is differing goals between parties, especially when there is a scarce resource and people have to compete for the same thing. In other words, conflict might arise when there different parties want the same thing but for different reasons.

Structural imbalances: class conflict
Conflict might occur because of the imbalances in society, for instance when some groups are rich and others poor.

Threat to important values
People develop different ways of life, cultures, ideologies, religions, etc. When people differ about these things it can lead to major conflict because people’s inner values and belief systems are being challenged.

Scarce resources
When there are not enough resources like food, jobs, homes etc, then conflict is likely to result because people are fighting for these things and they are frustrated and driven by their needs. They are not thinking about having good relationships and living peacefully with people because their most basic human needs is not being met.

Sometimes conflict can also occur between people in the same group, who believe in the same thing. They differ in the way that they want things to be done. So their goals are the same and therefore do not cause conflict but the way in which they intend to achieve their goals differ and cause conflict.

Advantages and disadvantages
“Conflict is like fire. A fire can be useful: it can warm you in winter or it can cook your food. But if the fire gets out of control, it can cause a lot of damage. It can destroy things which can never be repaired or replaced”. (Free to Grow Lifeskills).

Conflict can be good if it helps you to resolve certain problems and improve your relationships but if it becomes destructive instead of constructive, conflict can destroy your life, on a large scale and also on a small scale.

To understand your style of handling conflict you can follow the link below. This should give you a better understanding of  how you currently deal with conflict as well as what you can do to start dealing with it in a more constructive manner.

Once again if you'd like to discuss this further after having read this post or taking the conflict questionnaire, please feel free to e-mail me (, or leave me a message here:)

  • Anstey, M. (1998). Negotiating Conflict. Cape Town: Juta & Co,Ltd.
  • Gift of the Givers Careline. (1999). “Self- Discovery and Growth Course”. Unpublished Course Manual.
  • Free to Grow Lifeskills. “How to handle conflict”, Workshop manuals
  • Image 1 from:
  • Image 2 from:

Friday, April 16, 2010

Anger and Needs

Most of the time anger is related to a need. When the need is fulfilled then the anger will begin to disappear. Without understanding what the underlying need is, people may find themselves getting angry for many different reasons, a lot of the time. All these smaller reasons for getting angry may actually be related to one need. It is important to understand the needs which underlie your anger, without this understanding it will become very difficult for you to deal with your anger.

Make a list of all the reasons that you get angry. If you have being keeping an anger diary or keeping note of your anger patterns then you can use this as your list.

Now try to look at these deeper, try to identify the underlying need behind your reasons for getting angry. You will probably find that once you look at the underlying needs, they will be similar for many of your reasons for getting angry.

Let me give you an example:

You’ve just spent the entire day cleaning your house, and then someone comes and leaves a mess, you get angry.

Your reason for getting angry is because the person messed after you spent so much time cleaning.

Your need behind the anger- The need to be acknowledged and appreciated, the need to get a break from your chores, etc.

Most times people try to deal with their anger by focusing on the REASON for getting angry and they overlook the underlying NEED. When they do this, the anger is dealt with on a outer level only and it will only last for a short while before the person becomes angry again, for a similar reason. Once the needs which underlie the anger is understood and dealt with, then anger can be released completely.

So now, whenever you get angry, take some time out to understand the need which underlies your anger, only then will you be able to deal with the anger completely. This is not always easy to do because we do not always understand what our needs are, once we become conscious of the fact that our anger is related to deeper needs then this will become easier for us- Insha’Allah!

If you would like to discuss this further or need help identify what your underlying needs behind your anger is , you can e-mail me on: or leave an anonymous message below.

May Allah Almighty make it easy for us all to get rid of our anger.

“When you feel angry, keep silent.” {Hadeeth of the Prophet (SAW)}

According to Hazrat Abdullah bin Umar (RA) the messenger of Allah (SAW) said, “To restrain anger in order to please Allah is more excellent in the sight of Allah than to swallow back anything”.

“If anyone of you gets angry and he is standing then, let him sit down. If it subsides, well and good, otherwise he must lie down.” {Hadeeth of the Prophet (SAW)}

Friday, April 9, 2010

Understanding Anger Patterns

In order to understand your anger you have to first take responsibility for your actions when you get angry. Blaming others is not helpful. However, a look at the past may help you to understand your current angry behaviour. For example, if your parents or influential family members set bad examples and resolved conflicts aggressively, you may not have learnt to deal with anger constructively. 

Anger patterns refer to the way in which you have learnt to deal with anger over the years. An understanding of your anger patterns might help you to change the way you react when you are angry.

When last did you get angry with someone, at work or school, in a social situation and at home? Who made you angry in these situations? Think about these incidents very carefully, be very honest with yourself and try to identify what caused you to get angry.

You can write this down in a table similar to the one below:

Let's take this a little further- Try the following:
Think back, as far back as you possibly can. Try really hard to remember the first time that you were angry. It doesn’t have to be exact, just as long as you have some idea of when it was. As you are trying to remember consider, approximately how old you were. If you really can’t remember, try to think of something that reminds you of a time when you got angry while you were still very young. Things that might help are; photo’s, stories that your parents or other people told you, scars you might have as a result of your anger…
Now try to remember how you reacted, what did you do? Did you scream and shout? Were you silently angry on the inside or were you loud an aggressive? Was there any physical action involved (like throwing things, hitting, etc.)?
Write down as much as you can about what you remember.
Now come forward through the years and try to recall other incidents, throughout the time that you were growing up, when you were a young child, as you got older, and as a teenager, right up until right now.
 Is your way of dealing with anger the same as it always was or has it changed?
 What is common, what is stable, what aspects of your angry behaviour has remained constant?
 If your reaction to anger has changed, what do you think has allowed it to change?
 Has your reaction to anger become more constructive or more destructive?

We spend a lifetime learning (usually unconsciously) how to act out our anger--we have been socialized into the process. Anger management is a re-socialization process. Anger is something that we experience cognitively, emotionally, and even physically”. The important thing to remember is that no matter where or how we’ve learnt to behave in anger situations, the fact still remains that we are able to change our ways of reacting to anger from a destructive to a constructive way. If we look carefully we will see that we have developed certain patterns of dealing with anger. There are certain things that are common in all our anger situations. We can try to identify what this is and once we know we can work towards eliminating our negative patterns.

Something that will help with this that needs to be done over a period of time is to keep an “anger diary”, or “anger log”. Each time you get angry you can fill it in and after a period of time you can evaluate your anger behaviour by changes. analysing your anger patterns. Look at what was similar in all the situations and also identify any changes.

Indeed, anger is from the evil and, without doubt, the evil is created from the Fire. Only water can extinguish fire. Therefore, if anyone of you feels the rush of anger. Let him perform ablution”, and “When you feel angry, keep silent.” {Hadeeth of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW)}

References for this post:
-BUPA’s Health Information Team. (2004) “Anger Management”.
-Free to Grow Lifeskills. “How to handle conflict”, Workshop manuals.
- Image reference:

Friday, April 2, 2010

Introduction to Anger and Conflict Management

Insha'Allah in the next few posts I intend to deal with anger and conflict management. I will be adding links to questionnaires that can be taken to help you understand your own anger, and conflict style. IF YOU FEEL THAT YOU NEED FURTHER INFORMATION ON A PERSONAL BASIS OR IF YOUR ANGER LEVELS ARE DANGEROUS, PLEASE SEND ME AN E-MAIL ON

Hope that these posts are helpful!

What is anger?

Anger is the body's response to an event (e.g. road rage), to another person (colleague, boss, partner etc), or caused by anxiety - worrying about personal problems. It is the body's way of helping us to cope with either fighting, or running away. (Fight or flight response) Our body and emotions feel like a coiled spring - the body is ready now then, to fight or run - and those feelings need to be expressed. If you feel unable to express those feelings in a way that wouldn't hurt yourself or others, then you'll need to find other ways to express that anger.”

Is anger good or bad?

Some disadvantages of anger:

“Some people tend to become angry easily (a "short fuse"), and some have problems controlling their anger. Anger has consequences, and they often involve hurting other people - more usually their feelings, but sometimes physically. Anger can cause problems in your personal life, with your relationships and affect your work. The after-effects of anger often make a person feel guilty and ashamed, but anger is a normal emotion”.

“Unresolved anger can cause relationship breakdown, physical and mental health problems, criminal activity etc”. Anger can “lead to intimidating, violent or bullying behaviour which endangers other people or property. Anger can even lead to self-harm”.

A lot of negative consequences arise when we are unable to control our anger. When someone is very angry, screaming and shouting and not in control of themselves, they end up saying and doing things that they don’t necessarily mean. The things that they do might be harmful to others and to themselves. What happens sometimes is that when the fight is over, the hurt and animosity might still remain. Sometimes people always remember the things that were said during a fight and this might be the cause of continuous problems. “Uncontrolled anger can lead to arguments, physical fights, physical abuse, assault and self-harm”.

“The physical effects"

Anger triggers the body's 'fight or flight' response. Other emotions that trigger this response include fear, excitement and anxiety. The adrenal glands flood the body with stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. The brain shunts blood away from the gut and towards the muscles, in preparation for physical exertion. Heart rate, blood pressure and respiration increase, the body temperature rises and the skin perspires. The mind is sharpened and focused.

The constant flood of stress chemicals and associated metabolic changes that accompany recurrent unmanaged anger can eventually cause harm to many different systems of the body. Some of the short and long term health problems that have been linked to unmanaged anger include: Headache, Digestion problems, such as abdominal pain, Insomnia, Increased anxiety, Depression, High blood pressure, Skin problems, such as eczema, Heart attack, Stroke.”

Some advantages of anger

If anger is controlled properly then it might help to resolve things in a conflict situation. Getting angry might be a form of expression for people. Anger might also help in preventing people from taking advantage of each other. Anger provides limits and if controlled properly can be used in an assertive manner to ensure that one’s rights are not been trampled on.

It must be clearly emphasized that anger can only be a helpful emotion if it is controlled properly and used in an assertive, not aggressive manner. “Well managed anger can be a useful emotion that motivates you to make positive changes”.

Some reasons for getting angry
 Feeling helpless or unable to control a situation.
 Feeling trapped by circumstances and can’t see any way out.
 Tiredness and irritability.
 Frustration.
 Disagreeing with someone/ having a difference of opinion.
 Need to prove oneself.
 Competition.
 Feeling threatened or jealous.
 Feeling intimidated or overpowered.
 Inability to explain or express one’s feelings.
 When a person is forced to do something against their will
 When a person feels misunderstood.

To take an anger quiz click on the link below:
Please feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me if you'd like to discuss anything further with regards to the quiz or anything else related to this!
Insha'Allah in the next post we will focus on "Anger Patterns" - Until then I leave you in peace!
“When you feel angry, keep silent.” {Hadeeth of the Prophet (SAW)}

According to Hazrat Abdullah bin Umar (RA) the messenger of Allah (SAW) said, “To restrain anger in order to please Allah is more excellent in the sight of Allah than to swallow back anything”.

References for this post:
 BUPA’s Health Information Team. (2004) “Anger Management”.
Image taken from: