The idea of confronting others frightens most people. Many would rather withdraw from a confrontation rather than get their needs filled. This is unfortunate. It is not a good thing to go without getting what you want and need in life. And it is not necessary. There are ways to address difficult situations that are positive, loving, and productive.
Loving confrontation is simply telling others in a direct and considerate way what you experience and what you want. It stems from the desire and willingness to live honestly and lovingly. It is based on the realization and acceptance that life does present us with difficult situations and that it is up to us to actively resolve them. Avoidance of our problems, even the seemingly little inconsequential ones, only creates fear and resentment. No one can be happy when they are continually processing such negative emotions. Is it not wiser to take care of our difficulties as we go along in life? Taking care of difficulties as they occur frees you to experience a better quality life. No one can truly give when they are carrying around such emotions as anger, shame, fear, and hurt. And yet many are willing to pay the price of their very happiness rather than confront others and tell the truth. Remember, telling the truth about what you need and want can set you free — freedom to love, freedom to give, freedom to be creative, freedom to succeed.
Since we pay such a price when we don’t directly address difficult situations and there is such a great payoff when we do why do so many of us avoid it? Do you feel a high degree of anxiety when you think of addressing a difficult situation? Does your stomach twist at the thought? Does your heart rate go up? Would you rather do something you don’t want to do rather than address the difficulty? If so, you are not alone. Millions of people have this fear. And millions of people end up giving too much of themselves away as a result.
Perhaps a major reason so many avoid confrontation is the fear of rejection. This fear can stem from childhood experience when rejection could, in the mind of a child, mean possible abandonment. To the child rejection can be experienced as a threat to survival. The subconscious mind has no sense of time. All the emotions of childhood remain fresh as the day they were first felt and can be brought up again and again when something triggers their memory. The prospect of confronting others can certainly be a powerful trigger. If you feel extraordinary fear at the idea of confronting another, consider that you may be feeling old childhood emotions. The following idea may help set you free from your fear: If you are experiencing subconscious childhood fear, consider that things are no longer as they were when you were a child. You have grown up and have many skills you didn’t have as a child. Others have changed. Conditions have changed. You have changed. As the adult you are today you are capable of defending yourself and providing for yourself. If someone rejects you it is no longer a survival issue. As an adult, you are safer, more capable, stronger, and have many more choices. It is safe to let go of your childhood fear defenses. You are safe to confront.
Can you relate to this? “If I tell others what I feel and what I want they will see me as over sensitive, petty, and weak.” Some people may initially have a fearful response to confrontation. They may respond by defending themselves and judging you. However, if your approach is honest, sincere, non-defensive, and persistent most people will listen and begin to respond in kind. A loving approach to confronting a difficult issue can change the relationship for the better. Here’s how. Deep down inside themselves the other person knows that there is something that needs to be addressed. They may not like it, but they know. By you telling the truth it can be dealt with in a positive way. This offers the other person an opportunity to feel better about things. If they do not want to listen or negotiate that will become clear fairly quickly. This does not have to be a threat to you. Their lack of cooperation gives you an opportunity to re-evaluate the relationship and may bring to surface other more serious issues that must be resolved. You may choose to further address these issues or perhaps allow the relationship to take its natural course of departure. This could free you up to move on to better quality of living. Having negative people in your life who use you is not quality life. On the other hand, your loving confrontation may result in taking the relationship to a higher level. You both become more free and loving. Either result ends up with you and the other as winners because you have done something to offer the opportunity for more personal happiness.
Do you have this attitude? “Confrontation by its nature is angry and causes unnecessary hurt to myself and others. If I confront another person about something that is bothering me, I have to be unpleasant.” It is true that some loving confrontation requires that you assert yourself in a firm and no nonsense way in order to get results. Loving confrontation can on occasion seem severe, much like disciplining a child. Though done out of love, it must be executed with firmness. Telling the truth usually does not call for aggression. But if it does take a stand. When you know you are right, you must take action. Otherwise, you will never be happy. More times than not it is not necessary to be aggressively firm. Usually, the confrontation will require only a few words exchanged before the problem is resolved and you can go on with the business of living. In relationships where loving confrontation is practiced it is not seen as confrontation, but as a loving exchange in order to clarify things so positive action can be taken. Both parties are grateful.
Do you have this attitude? “If I learn to confront all the time I will become over aggressive and arrogant and I will end up all alone because no one will like me.” It is true that there are people who over do, making themselves pests in the name of truth. Sometimes telling the truth serves no purpose and can be unnecessarily hurtful. Telling the truth does not have to be unkind. In fact, telling the truth in a loving way is truly an expression of kindness. How else can people know what you expect, or need, or feel, or want? The willingness to tell the truth takes away a scary mystery that often hovers over relationships. Too many people have “hidden agendas” — unvoiced expectations, needs, and wants. Speaking the truth builds respectful, considerate, informed, and loving relationships. Years of speaking the truth brings about a lifetime of peaceful and loving relationships. You can learn to be skilled in speaking the truth. Do not allow initial awkwardness to deter you. Do not be afraid to make mistakes. Mistakes are the cornerstone of success. Just be sincere in your desire to learn to confront in loving ways and you will succeed. The payoff for your efforts are peace of mind and loving relationships that can sustain you throughout your life. Loving confrontation is truly the kindest form of communication.