Using Family Conflict for Personal Growth: Mining for Gold in the Dirt


Hey, did you have an ugly fight with someone over the holidays?

Do you want to mine gold from it to take into 2022?

Yeah, you do! Here are the steps.

*Also transferable to ugly moments in your own head or life circumstances. ie; most of 2020/2021*

Here’s the trick to making an ugly fight with your partner or family worthwhile. Do not walk away empty-hearted or empty-handed from an argument. They are so hard and tiring, it’s really a travesty not to find a takeaway.

There is repair to be done and we will talk about that too, but that is different than mining the moments for what is likely incredibly valuable later, looking for your growing edge, and naming it.

I’ll give you an example. Let’s say my partner and I go thirty rounds about the best way to load the dishwasher and eventually the argument turns into much more personal disappointments and fears like; “I’ve told you a hundred times that those plastic bowls can go on the bottom, you don’t listen to me”.

We all know we’ve been in this moment probably even about the dishwasher but no matter what it is about, the fight we are having is bigger than the dishes. I mean really, are we ready to walk away from our marriage/partnership because the plastic bowls keep jamming up the top rack? NO. It’s not about the dishes.

When we cool off do the REPAIR. I’m sorry I got so worked up about the dishes. You know the drill. You learned it in first grade.

Then GO MINING for the gold. If you had to go through the painful, scary event of an ugly fight make sure you make it worthwhile. What would be worth that yucky fight? The only thing worth that fight is getting our deeper needs met. There are two parts to this:


GETTING DEEPER NEEDS MET & Walk Away With a Piece of Gold

Listen to YOURSELF in the ugly part and find your theme.

You know what I’m talking about. When your brain is going a mile minute justifying how awful the other person is and how right you were. Look for the themes. You will have plenty of opportunities for this because you are stuck on these things so they repeat in your life over and over. Yes, YOU are stuck. In this step you notice YOU. So from the above example, you would notice:  “I’ve told you a hundred times that those plastic bowls can go on the bottom, you don’t listen to me” you may notice a theme that you feel unheard in a lot of your hard times. Note this. Chances are you will hear yourself say some version of “You don’t listen to me” in MANY of your hard moments not only in your relationship with your partner but at the grocery store at work in friendships…If it’s a theme, it’s yours. That doesn’t mean the other person did the ‘right’ thing. They aren’t your responsibility, you are. So, back to you. You feel unheard.

Take it in.

What does feeling unheard make you feel? Mad, sad, young, small, frustrated (a common word when we don’t want to own the size of our anger). What memories come to mind. Even if you don’t know what the feeling is or have any memories in your childhood of feeling unheard, just know you have a thing about being unheard.

Communicate with your partner what you know about your part.

These will be all statements about you and only your feelings followed by an apology for where you behaved unkindly because you had big feelings. You’re not asking your partner to apologize right now. Eventually reciprocity will be ideal, but especially as you build this skill it CAN NOT be dependent on your partner reciprocating. Right now it is just about you learning about your experience of the fight.

Make A Plan for the next time.

This is the GOLD. Instead of walking away feeling like you failed or let yourself down, walk away feeling like you got a valuable prize that was hard-won. There will be a next time so do yourself the favor of taking all of this learning and caring you did while it’s still fresh and make a plan for what you’ll do next time. Next time when I hear myself getting really worked up about dishes I am going to remember that it brings up a deep worry about not being loved or not being good enough. Even if I can’t differ the whole fight I am going to experience the conflict with that lens so I might get a better outcome and keep learning about myself in distress.

Don’t avoid the painful things. When something is painful get curious and demand that you compensate yourself for having to go through that pain by mining the pain for the gold you earned.

Begin Mindfulness-Based Therapy in Boulder, CO

Being mindful of how conflict affects you is vital in understanding how to grow when these experiences occur. Our caring therapists are equipped and ready to offer support in helping you from our Boulder, CO-based counseling practice. We can help you learn from the past to create a brighter future. If you are ready to start mindfulness-based therapy, please follow these simple steps:

  1. Contact our therapy center
  2. Request an appointment with our team and learn more
  3. Begin your journey of personal growth!

Other Services offered at North Boulder Counseling

At our our Boulder, CO-based counseling practice, our team of professional therapists & counselors offers support for a wide range of mental health concerns & life stressors. Our team is happy to support menwomenteens, and children.

We offer support through an anxiety treatment intensive program, postpartum anxiety treatment, postpartum depression counseling, perinatal support, counseling for women, and parenting coaching. Additionally, counseling at our practice can include treatment for traumaanxietydepression, and eating disorders. Learn more by visiting our blog today!

In addition to supporting clients, Boulder Counseling also offers professional support to other mental health professionals.We also offer business coaching for therapists and professional supervision for clinical licensure.