Is It Confrontation or Expressing Your Truth?Feb 09, 2021
Have you ever felt like you had something important to express or talk about with someone close to you, perhaps in a romantic relationship, but were afraid that it would start an argument? Maybe it’s something that may impact or involve the other person, or something that upset you during a recent conversation, or even a simple preference you may have.
It’s possible that you have been down this road with this person before…and maybe it escalated into an argument that ultimately caused even more tension and hurt feelings instead of the understanding and support – being heard – that you were hoping for. And maybe this has simply become the pattern you repeat together.
How do you handle this type of a situation?
Do you keep your thoughts to yourself to keep the calm within that relationship?
Do you express your thoughts and how you are feeling and risk another blowout?
Now, I’m not talking about bringing up which direction the toilet paper should go (over, of course!) or not leaving clothes in the washer so long they end up stinky and needing to be rewashed. I’m talking about expressing the real stuff – your needs for affection at certain times or one-on-one time to invest in your relationship or feeling safe to express your opinions, dreams, fears and such. This is important in any type relationship, especially the really close ones, whether it’s friendship, romantic, or even family.
I think it often happens that important conversations are not had because we are all so inundated in our daily lives that we don’t want to risk throwing off the little balance we do have, especially if it hasn’t gone well in the past. Why not just vent about the situation to a close friend and move on, right?
Or the topic is brought up, at the “right” or “wrong” time, and it turns into an explosion because of all of the stressors that the other person is experiencing and your needs somehow end up being heard as a personal attack. As if your wants or opinions are a negative reflection of them.
Is it really worth the risk?
Worse yet is when one or both individuals have learned somewhere along their journeys that to talk about an issue means to have a “confrontation” or an “argument.” As opposed to having a productive conversation about something on your mind or an issue that has made you uncomfortable in some way, the conversation becomes a confrontation. The problem is that confrontations have a tendency to bring defensiveness, hurt feelings, maybe some raised voices, and you generally don’t move forward on the topic because now one or both people feel like they haven’t been heard, respected or supported.
Not too long ago, I was blessed with a situation where a major confrontation ensued anytime I expressed to this person anything that I wanted or needed, or even my perspective about something between us. It was incredibly exhausting and frustrating, but it was also a great lesson.
Without going into unnecessary details, I’ll simply say that I was not being honored as a person. I was essentially being shamed for wanting to talk about anything as this person would immediately begin to talk over me and blame me for whatever issue I'd raised.
A few of the experiential lessons I witnessed were:
If the other person chooses to react by lashing out that is most likely about them, not you. Let me repeat that…If the other person chooses to react by lashing out that is most likely about them, not you. This one can be tough to not internalize, especially if it occurs with any consistency.
In my situation, my issue could not be addressed because the other person was unable to engage in a productive, problem-solving conversation geared toward protecting and supporting our relationship. Maybe this kind of communication was never modeled for them. In fact, this person even commented about the idea of talking about an issue as being a “conflict.”
This kind of situation is not something that is going to ever change if the other person is not interested in or able to develop the communication skills and the self-confidence to risk clear communication for the sake of the relationship.
And, it’s pointless to keep your truth to yourself. No one benefits and the truth is going to come out eventually, so why not just say it. Expressing your truth does not have to mean a confrontation or conflict.
We are all here in this lifetime for a reason. We each have a purpose and a gift to share with the world. It is our duty to ourselves to communicate our wants, needs, dislikes, frustrations, dreams and so on with the important people in our worlds. This helps us support healthy boundaries and relationships, and is foundational to our ability to thrive.
Of course, this does not mean that we need to be aggressive and confrontational ourselves, but simply starting out by saying something like “I’d really like to share something with you. Can we talk for a few minutes now?” Or “I want to share something with you that I felt a bit upset by and get your thoughts about it. Can we chat now?”
If someone in your life is not going to honor and support you, it may be time to seriously consider moving on from that relationship. Time is one of our most precious resources, and one that we can never regain. Who do you want to spend your time with? What do you want to spend your time doing?
In the end, we are all here to learn and grow as humans. What exactly that means is up to each of us, but why not support each other through open dialog and speaking our truth and accepting and honoring others for having their own truths? In doing so, we can all have a much better, more productive and enjoyable experience.
Enjoy the journey. xo
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