Conflict within Self


September, 21, 2010

Conflicts arise when a person faces two incompatible demands, opportunities, needs, or goals. There is no complete solution to conflicts; the individual must either give up one of his goals, modify one or both, delay one, or learn to live with the fact that neither is fully satisfied.

The concept can be understood through an example; recently married women may want to pursue a career, but also wants to raise a family.

A rational person, she considers the alternatives. She could accept a job now and delay having children, or she could have children now and look for work when children start going to school. Alternatively, she could modify both goals by hiring a housekeeper and working part-time. Or she and her husband could share child-care duties. Here the solutions are numerous. This is approach-approach conflict.

The reverse of the dilemma is avoidance-avoidance conflict when a person is faced with two undesirable or threatening possibilities. When caught in such a situation most people try to escape the situation. If escape is impossible they will cope with the situation in a number of ways, depending on the severity of the conflict. The student who much chooses between studying something he finds terribly boring and flunking an exam will probably decide to study. But the choice is not always easy.

In approach avoidance conflicts an individual is both attracted and repelled by the same goal, are rarely so easily resolved. A football player recovering from an operation may want to return to his team, but knows he may limp for the rest of his life if he is injured again. Here the person will approach the goal until he reaches the point where the two gradients intersect. Afraid to go any closer, he will stop, fall back, approach again, continuing to vacillate until he is forced to make a decision or until the situation changes.