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Embracing Conflict To Transform Relationships Through Compassion And Curiosity

Empowering parents to transform stress into strength and build deeper connections with their children through mental fitness and positive parenting solutions. 

Executive Contributor Barb Kornbrath

In ‘Embracing Conflict to Transform Relationships Through Compassion and Curiosity’, Barb Kornbraths shows how everyday conflicts can be opportunities for growth in relationships. Using relatable examples like the ‘Elephant and the Four Blind Men’ fable, she explores how our mindset affects our interactions and offers practical tips for handling conflicts with empathy and curiosity. Readers are guided towards deeper self-awareness and more fulfilling relationships through simple exercises and insightful concepts like Saboteurs. 

woman is annoyed about their communication problems

Embracing conflicts: A path to growth in relationships

Relationship conflicts are inevitable. They often arise from differing perspectives, unmet expectations, and unresolved emotions. However, what if we viewed these conflicts as growth opportunities instead of obstacles? Take a moment to reflect on past conflicts that revealed hidden gifts and growth. This article explores how embracing conflicts with compassion and curiosity can transform relationships.


The elephant and the four blind men: A lesson in perspective

Have you heard of the Elephant and the Four Blind Men fable? Each man perceives the elephant differently based on the part they touch: the trunk is perceived as a moving snake, the tail a rope, the side a wall, and the leg a tree trunk. Similarly, in conflicts, we often see only our subjective perspective, ignoring the broader picture. This limited view can lead to misunderstandings, resentment, and unproductive arguments that grow over time.


The impact of mindsets and relationships

Consider the impact of our mindset on relationships. Too often, fear, guilt, people-pleasing, avoidance, blame, and unrealistic expectations cloud our judgment and inhibit healthy communication. Positive Intelligence ™, a concept that explores the power of our mindset, introduces the term “Saboteur” to describe the inner voices that undermine our efforts toward happiness and success.

Unlock growth with mental fitness

However, with daily mental fitness practice, we build neural pathways that align with our true intentions rather than our fears and judgments. By strengthening our path to our truest selves, we empower ourselves to lead the way forward in our relationships with ease and flow, paving the way for happiness and fulfillment.


Reflective journaling: Name your saboteurs to tame them

Working with this journal prompt, consider asking yourself: “I am stuck feeling (emotion) with (myself, another, or circumstance) because             .” This exercise invites you to dissect your emotional response and identify the underlying Saboteur at play. For example, “I am stuck feeling angry with my partner because their work has become more important than family time.” This prompts you to examine your emotions and beliefs, shedding light on the subjective stories that influence your perception of conflicts.

Reflecting on the Elephant and Four Blind Men fable, where each man perceives the elephant differently based on the part they touch, reinforces this idea. Just like in conflicts, we often see only our perspective, ignoring the broader picture.


Additionally, I recommend taking the free Saboteur Assessment, which will provide valuable insights into the specific inner Saboteurs that may be affecting your thoughts, behaviors, happiness, and relationships.


Navigate conflicts with compassion and curiosity

Being stuck on anger is an emotion produced by our Judge Saboteur. Being stuck with a significant other, blaming them for our suffering, is another act of our Judge Saboteur.

The subjective story, such as feeling neglected because their work is more important than family time, represents the part of the elephant your Judge Saboteur is fixated on.


Explore different perspectives

As we learn to explore different perspectives, we begin to uncover assumptions and expectations that may contribute to our stuck story. By replacing judgment with curiosity and practicing effective communication, we open the door to new possibilities and resolutions in our relationships.


Reflection and application

Take a moment to reflect on a recent conflict you experienced. Consider the emotions you felt and the underlying beliefs that influenced your response. How might a shift in perspective have altered the outcome? This pause invites you to deepen your understanding of your own reactions and explore alternative ways of approaching

conflicts in the future.


Relationship growth checklist


  1. Self-awareness: Recognize when Saboteurs influence your mindset during moments of frustration, acknowledging their presence while maintaining self-awareness without attachment.

  2. Practice self-compassion and curiosity: Intercept the Judge Saboteur and offer yourself compassion, understanding that mistakes are human and curiosity can lead to growth.

  3. Choose your mindset: Understand your ability to adopt either a fixed or growth mindset when facing conflicts and challenges.

  4. Take the free saboteur assessment: Identify the internal culprits affecting your mindset and overall happiness by taking the Saboteur Assessment. Contact Barb for the link.

  5. Embrace conflict as an opportunity: View conflicts as chances for personal development, learning, and strengthening relationships.

  6. Commit to daily mental fitness: Develop a daily 15-minute mental fitness routine to build resilience and effectively manage relationship conflicts and other stressors.

  7. Have fun: Embrace the process of learning about the mind. While it may seem daunting at first, training your mind to be your best friend can lead to the life you were meant to live.

Conclusion: Embracing growth through conflict

When we practice finding a gift and opportunity in relationship conflicts, we begin to accept and align with our relationship goals rather than our fears. Only then can we navigate relationships with compassion, curiosity, creativity, outside-the-box thinking, and wisdom. By embracing conflicts as opportunities for growth and addressing our inner Saboteurs, we can strengthen our connections and cultivate healthier, more fulfilling relationships. With mental fitness, we are capable of finding the gifts sooner rather than later. Email Barb at to access the free Saboteur Assessment.

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Read more from Barb Kornbrath


Barb Kornbrath, Positive Intelligence Coach

Barb Kornbrath, a certified Positive Intelligence Coach, specializes in helping parents of children K-12 reduce stress, improve communication, and nurture emotional intelligence. Through the use of mental fitness techniques, Barb supports parents in creating resilient, loving family dynamics. Dedicated to helping parents set and achieve goals, she transforms parenting mistakes into lifelong learning examples. Her mission is to empower parents to shift from autopilot to mindful, intentional parenting for the benefit of thriving, happy kids. 



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