July 16, 2015

Why Confrontation Trumps Silence.


Craig Sunter/Flickr

I’m not going to lie—voicing my opinion hasn’t always been easy.

In fact, on the average day I still think that crawling back into bed and burrowing into my blankets sounds 10 times more enticing than going up to a person and speaking my mind. Still, I’ve learned to push through that discomfort and I do it because the reward is always so much greater than anything my silence could offer.

All of us have been hurt at one point or another and many of us have learned from and dealt with the sadness and anger. The thing is that no matter how much work we’ve done on our past, some wounds just never fully heal. Instead, they lie dormant, buried under moments of joy and day to day routine until someone or something activates us and the hurt comes pouring out once again.

I cannot be more clear when I say that the key to a healthy relationship is confrontation. Being able to confront someone when we feel uncomfortable, anxious, hurt or angry, keeps things open, honest and out there.

The problem is that the word confrontation often comes with this notion of aggression or violence, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Confrontation can actually be done with a great deal of compassion and kindness for both ourselves and the person we are speaking to. When we choose to be honest with ourselves and have the courage to let our truth be known, miscommunication and guessing games virtually disappear and the number of arguments decreases dramatically.

But why is it so hard?

The reason many of us keep quiet is because we’re scared. We fear that if we say something, that what happened to us as a child, might in fact happen again. Hypothetical questions come to mind and prevent us from speaking the truth:

What if he ignores me?
What if she leaves?
What if I get yelled at?
What if they reject me?
What if she gets upset and I have to comfort her?
What if he hits me?
What if?

Avoiding confrontation and keeping our thoughts bottled up will only lead to frustration and more pain. Instead, we need to get curious about what it is we’re experiencing and identify the fear that prevents us from talking.

Recognize that the past is in the past. Things may not turn out the same way as before.

Is the fear realistic in the present situation?  If it isn’t, take a deep breath and speak to the person. If the fear is realistic, think about the relationship. Sometimes, we want to keep people in our lives even when deep down, we know they aren’t good for us. If that’s the case, get curious about what’s going on and ask whether it’s worth it.

As uncomfortable as it is, we must make an effort to speak up and share our thoughts. Not only are we empowering ourselves, we’re also showing others that we care enough to be vulnerable and are willing to offer authenticity. We’re saying, “Hey, it’s okay. This is a safe place and we’re going to be real with one another.”

So, as much as I love my nest of pillows, the hope for authentic communication and deep connection is enough to get me out of bed every time.


Author: Maggie Steele

Editor: Katarina Tavčar

Photo: Craig Sunter/Flickr

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Maggie Steele