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  • Writer's pictureAngie Howlett - Conflict Counselor

My story: overcoming conflict through increased awareness and communication


what's your story?



Hello, welcome, and thank you to all of you for stopping in. I am so glad you are here and I hope this blog offers you peace of mind, comfort, support, and inspiration in overcoming conflicts through increased communication.


Conflict most often arises out of unmet needs and needs often go unmet due to a lack of effective communication. The purpose of this blog is to offer you some tools and provide you with a resource when navigating your interpersonal conflict, whether it be with a spouse or romantic partner, a family member, relative, coworker or boss, or any other person with whom you have regular interactions. In the coming blog posts (stay tuned!) you will find information that will aim to satisfy one goal: to increase communication. This blog is not intended to replace counselling or therapy by a qualified, licensed practitioner. Rather, it is meant to guide you to harness your problem-solving abilities within, increase communication with your loved ones, and transform your relationships.


So, let’s dive in: who am I and how can I support you on your journey to better communication and stronger, healthier relationships?


…well, bear with me, because this might get a little long, but I will try to keep it concise.

I am Angie, a registered social worker, and a qualified mediator. I am a mom and a wife, an entrepreneur, and my newest favorite hobby is making sourdough bread in my free time (like I have much of that, #amirite). I come from a dysfunctional family and a (later-in-life) broken home (kind of, I’ll tell you more later).


As a middle child, I was often pigeonholed into the stereotype of being a peacekeeper and encouraged to pursue a career in human/social justice. I had a happy, “traditional” (read: heteronormative with settler roots) childhood, and I grew up in an affluent neighbourhood. I wanted to become a lawyer—even as a kid, I was passionate about justice, always advocating for fairness and my little sister. My middle name is even Justine. You might say that this is the path I was meant to walk.


I interacted with conflict from a very early age as a result of unresolved intergenerational issues on both sides (i.e. alcoholism, challenging immigration, poverty, and other unchecked mental stressors, etc.) that eventually led to codependency—including unhealthy communication—within nearly all my relationships. Friendships never came easily to me and as a teenager and young adult, my romantic relationships lacked any real staying power. I spent most of my late teens and all of my 20s immobilized by anxiety, depression, non-existent communication skills, and maladaptive coping mechanisms (i.e. alcohol use, a revolving door of romantic partners… you get the idea).


Wait…why am I sharing this with all of you?


Because there will be a quiz at the end.


I’m joking, of course. No, it is because learning about others' lived experiences helped me in a profound way to transform my own life and ignited a spark to help others do the same.


(Side note: Storytelling is not only a cathartic event for the storyteller, but it is also incredibly important in creating transparency, building trust with clients, and cultivating a safe, judgment-free zone. I’ve been where you are, and I am SO EXCITED to share the tools that have empowered me to make the necessary changes in my attitude towards relationships, how to communicate respectfully within those relationships, and how clear, direct communication supports getting needs met.)


After years of conflict and built-up anger, resentment, and tension, my parents finally divorced in 2010. This was also the year that I finally finished my first university program. I settled on History (it seemed like a good idea at the time), after changing majors 5 times in 5 years of study. It was also the year that I finally confronted my own codependency and communication/relationship issues. I made an agreement with myself that I would work on these issues…by avoiding them for 6 months to teach English in China. It also seemed like a good idea at the time. It gave me the distance (quite literally) to process my parent's divorce and the realization that my relationships and friendships failed because I internalized inadequate communication skills from my parents.


My return marked the start of the real, heavy, raw, messy healing work. I was employed within a non-profit organization developing innercity communities, and began twelve-step programs (yes, there are lots of them and they are INTENSE). I started courses in social work to support my own professional growth. I never intended that it would result in a degree. However, in 2016 after an unexpected job and relationship loss back to back I hit rock bottom. And then came even more work...which led me here today.


So, why am I sharing these personal details and how can this help you? Rebuilding and relearning is messy work. But, it’s also the most rewarding. One of the steps of recovery is to share our experiences and carry its message to others who are suffering. Carrying this message relies on stopping codependency in its tracks by not only communicating effectively but also identifying areas of conflict (i.e. unmet needs), learning how to manage conflicts effectively, and eventually preventing them before they begin.


So, here I am, sharing my journey with you in faith that it will inspire you to build strength and capacity by empowering choice, facilitating communication, and transforming relationships. This is just the tip of the iceberg in my personal journey and we have lots to learn from each other. I’m so glad you’re here and that you have given me the honour of guiding and supporting you through the conflicts you are facing. It's time to get to work. Let's connect.




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