Over and over in my career as a life and business coach and psychologist, I would often hear my clients say “I hate confrontation! I avoid it like the plague…I don’t want to do anything that could spark an argument or have somebody angry with me.”
Are you one of the many individuals who have been afraid of “confrontation?” First of all whenever you use the word “confrontation,” this presents a negative connotation that has built up over the years, with painful and perhaps traumatic experiences that have long been anchored in your brain and body. Of course, you’re going to cringe and find yourself being trapped into holding on to your thoughts and emotions; feeling resentment, anxiety, and powerlessness as to the next event that will trigger situations that cause you to become frustrated, angry, and stuck.
Rather than confronting, I want you to think of how you practice “self care” by standing up for yourself. You are simply expressing the feelings and thoughts inside of you to let another person know how you are responding on a moment-to- moment to your perceptions and experience. It is a way of honoring yourself as well as others, so they can have an opportunity to be alerted and alter what they say or the ways they act. Without that invaluable feedback, others will continue to respond in their customary fashion unaware of the effects they have on you.
When you practice self-care in expressing your thoughts and feelings about another’s actions that disturb or upset you in some way, you are starting a momentum shift:
- You are being honest with yourself and that creates a jumpstart of your personal energy and feelings of power.
- You are letting go of the victim mentality.
- You are actually showing love to yourself by practicing self care.
- You are showing love to others by being authentic to build a more truthful and more genuine relationship.
- You provide valuable information to allow others a greater understanding of different choices for changing their behaviors into those that can build a greater connection and intimacy with you and others.
- You increase your chances for happiness, success, and well-being.
Whenever you “react out of fear” rather than responding out of love and nurturing for yourself, you end up sabotaging yourself. You don’t get what you want or deserve; no one will mind read or take over that responsibility for you to fill your needs, to “make you” feel love, cherished, and important. Yet, by not speaking up, you stockpile resentment toward a business co-worker, life partner, friend, or family m
ember builds up.
Paradoxically, you are often too focused on the needs of others and taking care of them emotionally, so that you can actively or indirectly manage their angry outbursts or protect them from feeling sad, anxious, stressed, and overwhelmed. Instead you suffer in silence and can be out of touch with your own needs and wants, putting these last. The payoff for you is that might feel that you were able to control and avert another’s acting out or catastrophic emotional display. However, you can begin to feel more stressed, anxious, overwhelmed, depressed, angry, and resentful until you finally explode in anger.
Whenever your outburst is much more than the magnitude of that situation, you know that it is the accumulation of past hurt and grievances. Adding to further damage, is your shame and guilt that you exploded, hijacking your brain and letting your emotions control you instead. You pull back your needs and wants once again, determined to keep your feelings to yourself. This self-protective mechanism causes you to defeat yourself even more the next time with pent up anger, frustration, and resentment.
When you allow fear to direct your decisions and actions, you unfortunately are coming from that losing mindset of “avoiding” rather than “empowering your best choices and actions.” Instead, taking action and honoring your feelings within, is a power that you, and only you hold. It is the secret to truly loving yourself and others.
Here are five steps to get started:
- Start with awareness: Become aware of your own moment-to-moment needs and wants rather than focusing on controlling the needs of another.
- Communicate your needs and desires: Whenever possible, communicate your thoughts and feelings as you become aware of them to proactively express as you are experiencing a particular situation, upping the possibility of better outcomes. This way, your feelings don’t build up, causing you to “over-react.”
- Avoid asking questions: Whenever you ask another person a question, you give away your power and allow another to hold the power. Even something simple as “Will you help me with …?” can elicit undesirable responsible such as – “Now now. I’m too busy. Why don’t you take care of it yourself? Quit interrupting me…” Instead if you said, “I’ve been really struggling with getting our home ready for our gathering tonight. I’m feeling exhausted and am starting to panick about running out of time. I’d appreciate your help in setting the table and cleaning the patio, so I can get ready.” The latter example indicates the strength and direction of your desire and increases the chances that you’ll get a better response to your direct request.
- Use “I” statements: When talking to another about the thoughts, feelings, and actions you are experiencing or wanting, use I messages. This is where you state “I am feeling… I would really appreciate… I’m needing____because…” These statements all indicate what’s going on inside of you, allowing you to show your authenticity and vulnerability. “You” statements can frequently come out sounding like an attack of the other, blaming and criticizing, or ordering the other to respond in a certain manner.
- Take small steps and reward yourself: Through awareness, perhaps, you can catch yourself 25% of the time. Maybe out of this percentage, you begin to honestly express your true thoughts and feelings as situations occur. Know that this is a skill that you develop; perfection or seeking perfection is your cruelest and worst enemy. Therefore, even if you start 5-10% of the time, in sharing your opinions and actions you desire, that is success. The ways you express yourself and the frequency of doing so will improve.
The status quo of work, family, and friends maintains itself. Even if you don’t get the desired response from the other person, if you are consistent, you will find that both you and others will change as you change. By taking care of your needs first, you give yourself and others love by empowering yourself and freeing others to stop guessing at what you want. May you awaken the greatness and love within you!