The emotional stress of being in conflict with others can take its toll on you, even causing headaches or other stress-related physical problems. When conflicts are giving you a headache, literally or figuratively, you can learn more about how to stop that phenomenon.

One thing that can help is expanded awareness practices in which you open a channel of communication with the aspect of your awareness that is hidden from you when you are in ordinary consciousness. Meditation is an example.

Calm your mind and open yourself to insights from your unconscious. Meditate by focusing on your breath or a repeated word so that your thoughts don’t dominate your awareness. Then ask yourself, “What am I not seeing about the conflicts I’m having?”  

One man did this and what came into his awareness was a snippet of a song with lyrics about being a man. He took a walk afterward meditating and thought about why that song’s lyrics had come into his awareness—after all, he hadn’t heard the song for years. He realized he had received the message to “Be a man! Be tough! Don’t back down!” repeatedly as a child and young man and unconsciously had internalized it. Now conscious of this message, he wanted to replace it with a healthier one that would support him in better controlling his temper during conflicts. He hoped changing his deeply held beliefs about what is “manly” would help him have fewer arguments and more discussions with others that were productive and respectful. He decided to write a new story called, “Conflicts can lead to creativity and closeness instead of headaches.” It took listening to wisdom from his unconscious to recognize what message he wished he had received as a child. Now that he was aware of it, he was consciously choosing to reject it. He set a goal to live according to this new, better story.

What old stories are hidden inside you that need to be brought to light and rewritten? What headaches might go away if you were to access insights from your unconscious that has been hidden from your awareness? How might your relationships improve?

A story called “I have to win arguments” may be getting in the way of something more valuable to you: having more harmonious relationships. Your unconscious may be able to offer you insights into why you have such a strong need to see conflicts as battles between opponents—one who will win and one who will lose. The next time you meditate, why not set an intention to gain an insight about winning versus losing or about how you handle conflicts?

A version of this article appeared on OMTimes.

For more guidance on how to access insights from your unconscious to change your story, check out the award-winning books Change Your Story, Change Your Life and Change the Story of Your Health.