How Ayurveda Can Help Heal & Prevent Relationship Conflicts
Sometimes in our relationships, we find ourselves getting into arguments or disagreements and saying things we wish we hadn’t. Especially on days when we’re feeling tired or disconnected, these arguments can begin over small matters and quickly escalate into something much larger. In the spur of the moment, it can be difficult to extract ourselves from the situation and mediate the conflict with patience and care.
When we approach relationships from the perspective of Ayurveda, it becomes clear that trust, forgiveness and understanding are essential for the overall well-being of both parties. According to Ayurveda, our relationships are deeply connected with and have a direct impact on our mental, physical and spiritual well-being. The same is true in reverse: if our physical or emotional needs aren’t being met outside of the relationship, that imbalance can negatively affect the relationship as well. Above all, Ayurveda emphasizes the importance of harmony—both within ourselves and with others—as central to achieving true health.
If you’re looking to improve how you approach conflict or disagreement in your own relationships, whether they be romantic, platonic or otherwise, here are several tips from Ayurveda for cultivating understanding, compassion and respect.
Understand Their Communication Style
Each of us communicates differently, and so understanding how the other person in a relationship communicates, and how those patterns might differ from your own, is a crucial foundation for a healthy relationship.
According to Ayurveda, our doshas tend to shape and influence our communication styles. Not only is it helpful to know how our partner’s dosha impacts their communication, but also how your own dosha might influence how you respond. When we understand how our individual constitutions and characters guide how we speak to each other, we can approach conflicts with greater empathy. We can also more quickly get to the heart of whether or not a conflict is rooted in a serious disagreement, or whether it arose out of a communicative misunderstanding.
How Each Dosha Communicates
Vata: Quick, light and airy Vata tends to have a fast-paced mind, jumping from one topic of conversation to the other with ease. Their moods, interests and opinions may seem to change quickly and unexpectedly.
Pitta: Warm and sharp Pitta is rational and decisive—once they reach a conclusion, they stick to it. They also tend to communicate in a direct fashion that reflects their own inner resolve.
Kapha: Slow and grounded Kapha expresses their thoughts with intentionality and deliberation. They are very receptive to others, approaching conversations and relationships with patience and a willingness to listen.
Here’s an example of how understanding these tendencies can help mediate conflict: if you’re Vata, you might think your Pitta partner is being critical or harsh due to their direct style of expression. However, in this scenario, Vata can understand that Pitta is not intending to be hurtful but is rather communicating their own internal resolve. In turn, Pitta can take a step back in the conversation, perhaps speaking with less force and allowing Vata to fully express their feelings.
In addition, while Kapha’s patience and attentiveness generally make them a calming, grounding and positive source of support in a relationship, they can also become withdrawn, uncommunicative and irritated when they don’t devote enough care to themselves. When a partner notices that Kapha has started to withdraw, they can realize that Kapha is in need of care and rest.
Know When to Embrace Quietness
When we find ourselves overtaken by frustration in the heat of an argument, we often end up saying things we later regret. That’s because, during those moments, we prioritize our own opinions and feelings without making room for the other—we want to prove at all costs that we are right.
Of course, nobody is perfect, and we cannot expect ourselves to approach every argument with total compassion. However, one way to give ourselves time to regroup, gain awareness and recenter ourselves is by taking time to be quiet. During a fight, we may not know how to mediate our emotions right away—and that’s okay! But what we can do is take a step back, stop the conversation and agree to resume it at a later point.
Even beyond mediating conflicts, spending quiet time together is a great way to build comfortability and trust. Plan some time to just sit together on the couch, listening to music or lighting a wellness candle. You’ll feel totally relaxed and rejuvenated afterward, in just the right condition for practicing healthy communication.
Cultivate Sattvic Awareness
As we’ve written about before, our dosha influences not only how we communicate, but also how we express love in other ways. However, while there are some doshic combinations that are more compatible than others, the most important thing in any relationship is to cultivate sattva, a concept that encompasses self-acceptance, awareness and harmony. Regardless of how different our personality may be from that of our partner, when we approach relationships with awareness of both self and other, we can put aside our own ego to understand the bigger picture. Instead of prioritizing our own feelings or insisting that we are right, we see ourselves more honestly in relation to the other person, and we can work from there to tackle the problems that may arise.
There are a number of ways we can increase sattva in our lives, including exercise, spending time with nature and meditating. For more on attaining sattvic balance, check out our blog here.
Take Care of Your Own Emotional & Physical Needs
A hugely important fact that is surprisingly easy to overlook is that we cannot healthily love another person without also making sure our own physical, emotional and spiritual needs are met. Letting the stresses and frustrations of work accumulate, not getting enough sleep and dealing with physical ailments or discomforts all impact our ability to approach our relationships with care. When we feel bad, we find it much more difficult to treat others with love.
Here are just a few Ayurvedic practices that can help you resolve imbalance. If you feel that there are specific conditions contributing to your physical or emotional unease, try to seek out resources (like the articles on our UMA Elements blog!) that can target your particular needs.