The conflict between should and want that most humans face within themselves is termed as Intrapersonal Conflict. Should is always driven by the values, religious beliefs, upbringing etc. wants on the other hand are driven by the environment which entices humans to indulge in fulfilling desires. Intrapersonal conflicts have their roots in differences that occur in relationships, work, religious beliefs, ethics and societal systems. When dealing with internal conflicts, behaviours that may arise include: inability to trust your opinion over others, indecisiveness when making decisions, doubting your credibility, shame associated with true feelings, and Constant comparison. Conflict is also defined as an opposition between two simultaneous but incompatible wishes or drives to achieve two or more goals. They manifest when any kind of decision needs to be taken, rather all decision dilemmas are resolved once the conflicts within cease. Simple decisions like buying a cycle or complex decisions like marriage or financial matters give rise to a conflict in our minds while arriving at any decision. Persons managing internal conflicts may experience emotions such as fear, anxiety, doubt and confusion, which can lead to climactic scenes forcing the character to decide.

One common example of intrapersonal conflict is consuming alcohol or not, as conservative upbringing and parental advice is always against it, however the social and work surrounding entices drinking alcohol. Ultimately, it’s a victory for wants (desires) or should (Values). This conflict arises out of your own thoughts, emotions, ideas, values and predispositions. It can occur when you are struggling between what you “want to do” and what you “should do.” The intrapersonal conflicts virtually cover all domains of an individual’s life where often an individual is required to make opinions or decisions. Individuals who develop unhealthy habits are also prone to conflict within, every individual understands smoking an unhealthy habit and most wish to quit, however the body which is used to want of nicotine often wins conflict between should and want.

It is not only habit such as alcohol and smoking a source of conflict within, most who visit a shopping mall end up by buying more than their requirement, things they may never use or which have no immediate use. All shopping malls make profit on the human shopping behaviour and use the conflict within humans to make booty for themselves. Intrapersonal conflicts can sometimes have a devastating effect on the mental makeup, some individuals get completely driven by desires and may save the intrapersonal conflict in the short run by going with the flow and while others become indecisive and confused or start depending on others to take decisions for them. Decision making is tough at times, every action has consequences, positive or negative, however it is important to accept one’s decision and live by them.

To overcome conflict within, we need a very strong will power, ability to stay calm and focussed in all circumstances. The first step is to have the will and the leverage enough power to take a decision to battle desires. The only way to overcome intrapersonal conflict is by not letting your desires to overpower values and have will power to resist all temptations of going off track. Internal conflict arises out of moral & ethical dilemmas associated with right/ wrong or yes/no decisions.

There are three main types of internal conflict: individual internal conflict, conflict when working with others, and internal conflict within groups. Most internal conflicts hover around Ego and Soul. A distinction between our EGO (or mind) and our SOUL (or heart), takes us to the root of most internal conflicts. Ego desires stability, security, safety, achievement, success, glory, and lots of attention, soul strives to discover its true reason for being, the essence of why we were created in first place, ultimate destiny, how can we best serve others with passion. There will always be some significant gaps between living our life to feel safe and secure versus living our life to explore one’s destiny and passion.

Resolving Internal Gaps/ Conflicts
The first step in resolving internal conflict is to identify the conflict brewing inside as most inner conflicts are deeply rooted in our upbringing, environment, our life experiences, or the present circumstances. Having identified the conflict, the second step is acknowledging the conflict. Then proceed to explore the origin of conflict and move toward calming your mind and finding comfort in what you really want or decide to do.

Most internal conflicts have origin in conflicting views on desires (wants) and values (should), ego (mind) & soul (heart). Once the origin or root cause is established, the battle of heart and mind begins and the outcome is a decision that depends upon which one prevails over the other. Thus finally either the conflict subsides or is resolved.

Calming your mind by letting go of guilt and shame, feeling safe and secure in decision making, streamlining or processing own feelings, support by developing new insights into emotions. Finally trusting own inner wisdom in making up mind and deciding irrespective of what others may feel.

Therefore, one practical way to resolve intrapersonal conflict is to stay in a society that reflects your morals and social needs thereby posing least or no internal conflict. The other most common and smooth way to resolve the classic conflict between ego and soul is to bring them on the same path of Collaborative (Co-Operation) mode. For example, when one realises that extra money is no substitute for meaningful, enjoyable work and end up finding a job one loves, even if it is lesser paying. Ultimately, one happily compensates by not spending extra money on weekend hobbies or extravagant celebrations.


Col Rajesh Bhukar The writer is a Post Graduate in International Studies, Alumni of Defence Services Staff College, Wellington and College of Combat, Mhow

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