Last week I started an exploration of how conflict in stories can help us with conflict in our own lives. Unfortunately, my thoughts could not be condensed within one post so I broke it into two. Last week we discussed external conflict, this week I will discuss internal conflict.
Without further adieu.
Internal conflict is a much more dynamic experience, and a much harder conflict to avoid because it is always with you. The inner struggles of fears, attitudes, integrity and any other aspect of a person’s character you can think of. We all deal with internal conflict on a regular basis.
As I mentioned last time, every great story has multiple kinds of conflict in them. The conflict that the best stories have is internal. The hero struggles to overcome some kind of shortcoming internally. Succeeding in getting past those hurdles not only makes the protagonist more dynamic (and more human) but also causes them to grow as individuals be it better or for worse.
A great example would be Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. While each character are separate minds, it is Dr. Jekyll’s own internal conflict that brings out Mr. Hyde. It is his internal conflict that leads to his continued use of the serum that transforms him into Hyde. A set of decisions that ultimately lead to his insanity.
Shakespeare was incredible at displaying internal conflict in his works. Both Macbeth and Hamlet are predominately circled around the internal conflicts of the protagonists and only uses external conflict as means to create a setting for the story.
In each story that features this conflict, you can find all types of journeys that explore resolutions, some work and some do not. We can use these tales to help us deal with our own struggle. I know I have had my share of times when a character in a story will be struggling with a similar issue that I am dealing with and I find their response to be helpful in figuring out my own solutions to the problem.
Additionally, stories that tell of internal triumph (whether fictional or true experiences) are inspiring and should give us hope in our own personal struggles. The fact is, we are not alone even when we process things internally.
The greatest things I feel we can pull from the stories we read is that in this internal conflict there is always two things you will find.
- The Protagonist, while coming to their final conclusion on their own, process this struggle with the help of others.
- The Protagonist does reach a solution and resolves that conflict.
The reason I feel these two are important is this: It is more than okay to rely on your friends and family that you trust intimately to help you process through the struggles you have; if they are true friends they will be more than willing to share an empathetic ear. And, know that this struggle, while it can feel huge at times, does have a solution and you can reach it and move past the problem.
You, my dear reader, will emerge victorious!
What was a time you thought your internal struggles would overwhelm you? What helped you overcome those problems?
Can’t wait to hear from you!