Guest post by Robert Schaefer, VP of Client Services, Steinbrecher And Associates, Inc.
Cognitive science recognizes two distinct ways that we refer to ourselves. First, there is the extended form of self-reference. This is the concept of the self that exists across the length of our lives, often called the “narrative” self. Secondly, there is the momentary concept of self. This is the perception of “me” that is going through a specific experience at a specific moment (the here and now).
When we engage in interpersonal conflict, we often transpose the momentary and often stressful experience as something happening to our extended or narrative self. Whenever this occurs, the situation can feel like a personal threat. This common and understandable reaction makes it difficult to resolve disagreements with others in a healthy and positive manner, and as a result, we find ourselves in a counterproductive mode of conflict.