Confrontation, oh how I fear thee

I don’t do confrontation. I’m not sure how many people know this about me, but, well, now it’s out there.

I can’t pinpoint exactly what it is about confrontation that scares me – whether it be the ‘I wish I’d thought to say this/that’, or whether it be my lack of confidence in having a conversation ‘live’ that can’t be edited like the written word, whether it be the about my lack of confidence in myself I have & not feeling up to putting my feelings out into the world, or the knowledge that I am leaving myself open & vulnerable by exposing personal feelings & thoughts that once out may be used against me or as bait in future conversations.

Confrontation also brings up so many insecurities for me – of not being smart enough. I was always an ‘average’ student at school & I would always hide & not disclose test scores for fear of ridicule or judgement, even when the scores were ok or even really good. I just didn’t have the assurance that I was able to meet anyone academically & I think I envision confrontation as a type of school debate & don’t feel smart enough to ‘compete’ or will win it for the team. I’m scared of what will happen, what will be said back, that I won’t be equipped with the arguments, the vocabulary or to leave emotion out of it (cos sometimes it’s not about that), to personalise everything & then to play the self-blame game.

I have grown up with depression always being my constant visitor & companion, so my negativity & pessimism spent a long time shaping my outlook on life & my self confidence. I know I’m not the same person as I was as a child or teenager & am learning to see things differently & change the way I think about things, however, for some reason I just can’t shake the fact that confrontation scares me & this fear stops me from acting on it.

I think having a delicate personality or a history of self-doubt also brings ‘character assassination’ into the mix of things I fear when thinking about confrontation. I just can’t shake the feeling that I am going to be ‘dumped on’ even though I might have everything working in my favour for an apology or whatever I’m wanting as the outcome of the meeting. And then there’s the personality of the other party to consider. Strong, intimidating, controlling & those people that are not scared to say anything also stop me in my tracks.

Fear the unknown outcome also scares me. Being one of those ‘type A’personalities & wanting to be able to control as much as possible in my life (which I know is unrealistic, but that’s a whole other blog post) does not bode well when it comes to having conversations ‘on the fly’ that involve feelings & emotions & possible outcomes that I don’t want or didn’t plan for. How will I cope & how will I feel should the outcome be unfavourable? Will this start me on a carousel of ongoing confrontations?

I’m not quite at the point in my life that I know who I am, that I love, respect & accept myself & feel worthy…. And then something like fear or inability to confront shakes me up just that little bit more when things in my personal life requires me to either step up & stand up for myself. This fear makes me question whether I’m ever going to be ‘content’ knowing I’m letting fear & vulnerability take over from rectifying things, improving relationships or standing up for what I believe is right or just having the opportunity to being heard & validated. There are some aspects of myself that I am comfortable with & like & things that attract people to me, but not being able to stand up for myself or being confrontational makes me question if I’m truly content & ok & can lead a fulfilling life.

And I know not all confrontations are hard or need to be a clash of the minds. It doesn’t always have to be a shouting match or a well prepared speech using examples of things from the past to give your point validity. Sometimes it’s a gentle conversation that is included as part of a catch up over coffee & doesn’t get another minutes thought. I think I’m ok with those. Yeah, I am.

When thinking about this fear of mine, it got me thinking of the ‘other party’. Are people nasty or rude to me knowing that I avoid confrontations & they’ll get away with it? Maybe. Do they use this against me? Maybe. Do they push me to the point where I’m backed into a corner out of fear as a means to an end knowing I won’t push back? Maybe. Do I think that those people who know I avoid confrontation exploit me knowing they’ll get away with it? Maybe.  Do I see this as a character flaw of mine & do people that know me see it as a flaw? Maybe. Have I lost friendships & family members over the fact that I don’t confront them. Most definitely yes.

I know I have made conscious decisions lately not to confront certain things that have occurred in my life. It hasn’t been easy & it’s been hurtful, often relentless, nasty & (mostly) unwarranted. This is one of those times that no matter what I say, I will not be heard or given the space to put my case forward. I don’t want to be involved in a situation of having a conversation like this, that only serves to provide the other person with the stage to perform & no purpose other than to give that person an opportunity to lay out their reasons for their actions or inactions.

I know there are times I’ll have to step up & my kids are going to be the impetus for this. There are going to be many occasions that I’ll have to stand up for them as they grow up & I want to be able to do this for them. And I want them to learn this skill from me or DH as I don’t want them going through life letting people take advantage of them for not being able to stand up for themselves.

I would love some helpful (gentle) tips on how I can overcome my fear, so please feel free to share the love cos I sure could do with some of it at the moment.