THE WAR OF CONFRONTATION: 3 REASONS TO LEAN IN

When was the last time you had to confront someone? What was it about? Did you have to confront your friend about her husband’s actions? Or did you need to let your employee know that they really need to be better about wearing deodorant? Perhaps you had to tell the contractor you hired that they did a poor job and you need them to come back to fix the issue.  Maybe you had to pull little Jimmy aside and put your fist in his face to put a little fear into him for messing with your kid. 

And what did you feel when you had to confront each person, each relationship tie, each acquaintance? Since we are about to get intimate here sharing our feelings and shit I must confess that all of the above are just some of the confrontations from different chapters in my life. Yes, yes…even little Jimmy. I am not proud of that one.

You see, once upon a time I hated confrontation. I hated that I had to point something out to someone that was either affecting me, my environment, my team, or my relationships. Even with contractors or people I hired for services – I felt bothersome. Argumentative. But it wasn’t until this year, after hitting my 1 millionth confrontation mile marker (Id like to thank all the haters responsible for making this possible), that I began to reframe confrontation as an opportunity. Something to want to lean into.  And so I want to share with you 3 reasons to lean in too!

Remember when I shared that in the Chinese language how the written character for “crisis” also means opportunity? Well, this new reframe has given me a little bit of a challenge, and oh how competitive I am with myself when trying new challenges. It is a practice that now empowers me.  I might go as far as to even say it excites me. And although I never go looking for a fight, I am confident when these inevitable encounters plop in my face. In this new approach, I have gained a) a greater sense of self-awareness, b) a strong ability to smell a mother-fucker from a mile away, and c) a deep understanding of how this all feeds into a kind of balance that I chase.

Admittedly, this is not something you perfect overnight. I still have my moments where I may ask someone I trust who is emotionally detached from the situation, to help me get back on track.

The World is going to give you beauty, but it is also going to give you pain. The greatest lesson, you will ever learn is that this, too, is a gift.

bianca sparacino

WHAT IS CONFRONTATION ANYWAYS?

A clash of interest or opinion. To oppose someone or something. Other definitions on the web define confrontation as a verbal attack that leaves no room for collaboration or problem-solving. I disagree. Even though it is associated with negativity, the outcome can be positive, regardless of how it all plays out. It is a chance that allows you to tap into patience, courage, humility, reason, justice, resourcefulness, and creativity. All of the things that just make women awesome creatures anyways.

THE WAYS OF THE SELF  

Confrontation can be very uncomfortable. But why? Well, because I believe we kind of care what other people think. And if we aren’t worried about the opinion of the person we are confronting, then we are worried about how we appear to all the people in the parking lot of the grocery store that just saw us in that showdown.

When you’re 20, you care what everyone thinks, when you’re 40 you stop caring what everyone thinks, when you’re 60, you realize no one was ever thinking about you in the first place.

winston churchill

Maybe because I am turning 40 this upcoming year, I am exactly in the area that Winston Churchill describes. Although I aspire to reach the next realization waaaay before I turn 60.

With that being said, I have taken each confrontation as an opportunity to see the situation through a wider lens. A look from above if you will. I access what I am feeling. Depending on the heat level and relationship aspect of the conflict, I can better gauge these days if this is a conversation I need to put on hold or if it’s something that I can talk through without losing my shit. You can’t see it but I am patting myself on the back because I have been doing the former so much more than the latter these past few years.

Years prior, I always ran in head first. Uncomfortable or not, always filled with some sort of fear, but I went in so fast to show that I was big and tough. Sadly in those instances, I created more damage than I did any sort of resolution.

Just recently I was very upset about a situation and sat with my thoughts. I could feel how the decisions that I needed to make were irrational and emotionally driven. What’s funny is you know what you want to see happen, is ridiculous, but in moments of intense emotions, you a honey badger.  In those moments my ego doesn’t give a shit if this blows up in my face. I don’t care if I say things I can’t take back. I don’t care if I might lose my job. And so those are the moments you have to really focus on your thoughts, exercising self-discipline in order to know if you should continue to engage or not. Do you choose to be emotionally immature or show up as the woman you know you can be?

Another little exercise I extract from confrontation is doing a little bit of shadow work. Don’t leave me now – hear me out. If you haven’t heard about it, it probably sounds like woo-woo stuff but its not. It’s a term that was coined by an Austrian philosopher in the 80s. Just as we bring back decades and fashion trends we actually do the same with terms. (#MeToo actually came out in 2006, not 2017, Woke was first coined in 1962…you get the picture).

When I am engaged in confrontation and something is said that triggers me, that I 100% cannot stop thinking about after the conflict, I know that I need to process a little deeper as to why I’m so bothered. It’s not because I believe I am ugly, fat, or the worst human being in the world like they hollered at me …. Or am I?

Being triggered can be 1 of 2 things….

1) THE ACTUAL BELIEF OF WHAT OTHERS SAY ON A SUBCONSCIOUS LEVEL

Our inner shadows are composed of parts of ourselves that we subconsciously reject. An ideal image of ourselves that was constructed from our environments growing up. And when we are triggered by a conversation, a person, or an event – that old belief system resurfaces.

2)THE THINGS THAT WE DISLIKE ABOUT ANOTHER PERSON ARE THE SAME THINGS THAT WE DISLIKE ABOUT OURSELVES

Ugh, that one is a mind fuck but it’s true. The imperfections that we recognize in another are the same imperfections that we currently host or at one point in time did. I am annoyed by those who play victim to their own created drama but as my therapist pointed out, I too play the victim when things have not been in my favor. Other examples may be if someone lies, cheats or steals, maybe at one time you did those things and no longer do – but the fear is still there. Is that your identity still even if you changed?

For fun – try it out. List people you dislike, especially the ones that you don’t really know why exactly but list possible reasons and see if you share a trait or acted the same as them at some point in your life. The results might surprise you.

The bottom line is putting in the work to understand your triggers whether it’s something someone said or it’s the person, this is how you conduct shadow work. And there are so many benefits to getting to a level of deep self-exploration. The more you know yourself and clear up distorted beliefs you can focus more on the people you’re in conflict with.

IT’S NOT YOU, ITS THEM

Now that you are in the space of understanding yourself a little better you can go into a confrontation with confidence (Remember, be patient, this shit takes time, and trying to fully understand your triggers is tough work).  Now that you are in the setting where you know you have a little more control over yourself, and your response, you can see how getting out of your head allows you to observe the other person.

Are they overreacting? What is their body language? Are they doing this for a show? Are they for real?

It was around the time I had gotten a little better about controlling my response that I was swooped into a confrontation –in a very public marina—on a freaking holiday weekend where everybody and their mama were. All eyes on me. Or maybe it was all eyes on the other person who was trying to engage in a very high drama screaming match with me.

(Hand over forehead) Oh the gaslighting, the name-calling, trying to hit all my buttons. But I resisted. I did not give in. I thanked the person for the outing in the middle of their tantrum cause there was no way I was going to get a word in and I let them know that we would regroup on the conversation the next day after they had calmed down.

Was I drumming up comebacks at the same time? Abso-fuckin-lutely, but in those moments, I was also using the power of pause to acknowledge that it did not matter what the fuck I said to try to create a resolution. Nor could I allow me to fall to this person’s level. I truly would have been so disappointed in myself. There was no point to that either. Two wrongs don’t make a right and this person was in show mode. So I dropped the curtain.

After I walked away from the situation and got into the car to drive home I was hit hard with a wave of adrenaline. I was shaking. I was… I was…. Excited. I was powerful. I can’t even describe to you what I felt but I can still feel it as I type this out. I had never in my life up to that moment, being able to compose myself the way I did that day. I wasn’t worried about how I looked. I knew the other person looked like a fool for sure. But I didn’t even care about that.

From that interaction, I learned that this is not a person to ever waste my time entertaining with confrontation.  Heck, I had to weigh scenarios to decide if I wanted them in my life or not anymore and due to complex matters, I ended up having to set boundaries for my providence. A must especially for the people in your life that you just cannot avoid even if you wanted to.

I judge you unfortunate because you have never lived through misfortune. You have passed through life without an opponent—no one can ever know what you are capable of, not even you.

seneca

I never fully realized how much you take away about another person based on their conflict style simply by staying out of your own head and keeping Ego in check. If you can do that, you will have the upper hand. You will also pick up on the type of person you are dealing with.

Either this person is:

  • A person who is SUPER insecure and unwilling to take accountability for their behavior/actions
  • A person who is a fucking sociopath or narcissist – ABORT repeat ABORT. These people you just walk away from or hang up on.
  • A passive person – uncomfortable and doesn’t want to deal with anything and will suppress whatever they are feeling.   
  • An assertive person – (these are the confrontations I can appreciate) No matter how uncomfortable the conversation may be they either agree with you, or they don’t which is fine, but they listen and offer some sort of constructive response … 
  • An avoider. They ghost you, or they like to sweep shit under the rug so you may never get to chat with them about something that needs to be chatted about and so your creativity has to kick in on this one

Oh, and the stronger the tie that binds you to the person, the MORE complex the conversation. Which truly is the greatest triumph if you think about it. Any other confrontation less complex should be easy as pie.

I have had some of the most difficult confrontations, literally back to back it seems, within the past year. Thankfully most of them have been more constructive than not leaving important relationships intact but I guess I could equally say I am thankful for the ones that I had to release.  

Each was so hard in its own right. BUT GUUUURRRRLLLL lemme tell ya,  I feel like if I survived through those, then I can walk away unscathed from ANY type of encounter with people who use their tongues as sharp weapons.  

ALLOW ME TO INTRODUCE MY FRIEND, BALANCE

OKAY! So now that you can spot a mother fucker from a mile away and their conflict style, placing them in your appropriately created categories, you can make more sound decisions on how much energy exactly it is that you want to spend on someone.

Heck, if you just blocked 3 people, look at all the space you just created in your life. 

To fine-tune a little more ask yourself these questions when trying to make adjustments. Is this person worth it or is this battle worth it? Allow yourself to reach an honest acceptance that either this dude has GOT TO GO or this chick is so important in my life she is worth it.

It is fatiguing how much energy we spend on fruitless relationships and on people who don’t really add anything to our lives.

And not only that but think of how you can use your new strengthened skills in other areas of your life. From the bedroom to the boardroom – I mean…. Win-win baby.

The things that hurt, instruct.

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN

You cannot control all aspects of your life, nor should you want to. It is the inevitable experiences we live through that force us to grow. Thanks, life! Cause god knows we don’t ever choose to force any type of discomfort upon ourselves – unless we have a new perspective.

And so I leave you with this…Do your best to love the people and circumstances that fate places in front of you. It all exists in favor of your growth. By changing your perspective, you dramatically improve your well-being.

Cheers!

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