In this short article, I’m going to show you how to resolve conflict in a relationship by dealing with one of its most common root causes.

Once upon a time, perhaps many lifetimes ago, you were a slave. You were told what to do, when to do it, and punished when you didn’t do it. And now that lifetime of slavery shows up in your resistance to being told what to do. It’s called a past-life fear of powerlessness, and it affects almost all of us in some way or another.

A life of slavery gives your soul a stronger than average desire for personal freedom. It explains why people ride horses, bicycles, motorcycles and scooters, drive convertibles, ski, surf, and sail. After a life with no personal freedom, the soul wants to feel the wind in its hair.

The need for freedom is a reaction to a life in which you had little or no ability to make your own decisions. And, though horse riding is a positive reaction to a life of slavery, there’s a problem many people experience, and it happens in a relationship when one or both parties feel their autonomy is being threatened.

The phrase most commonly associated with a fear of powerlessness is, “Don’t tell me what to do!” Which is fine. It’s good to set clear boundaries. But it’s a problem if everything your spouse, child, or parent says to you elicits that response.

Tell a child who was once a slave not to play in the road, and twenty minutes later they’ll be dodging semis on the freeway. Demand something of a partner who was once a slave, and they’ll ignore you, pretend to do it with no intention of really ever doing it, or get angry with you. They might spontaneously utter the words, “Don’t tell me what to do.”

If you want to know how to resolve conflict in a relationship, it’s important to understand that the slave from a former past life needs to be treated as an equal. He or she requires respect, and to feel they’re not being coerced.

If you get resistance from a child, try bringing them into the decision-making process. Discuss vacation plans and topics like schooling and allowances with them. Don’t just foist decisions on them, or you’ll more than likely trigger an equal and opposite reaction.

The key to finding ways to resolve conflict in a relationship of any kind is to be flexible.

This includes giving up your need to be right (which is usually a sign that you, yourself, were once a slave), and to remember that the obstinacy you see in a child or a partner may be the result of your own inflexibility.

Flexibility means not making demands of another person that you know would get your back up if the roles were reversed. It means letting go of the need to be right, to be obeyed, or to have things done according to a schedule that exists only in your own mind.

Try this the next time someone resists doing what you want of them: Think about how you presented your request. Was it expressed as a demand, giving the other person no opportunity to assert their autonomy? Could there have been another way of getting to the end result? Might there have been a more diplomatic way of going about things.

When it comes to a past life fear of powerlessness, resolving conflict in a relationship isn’t something you do when emotions are high and fears are triggered. It begins with the awareness that you and your antagonist were once both slaves.

If you really want to know how to resolve conflict in a relationship, learn to be respectful in tone, avoid making inflexible demands, and bring the other person into the decision-making process by inviting their input. This technique works in marriages, between parents and children, and in the workplace.

Try it, and let me know below how it works for you!