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Embracing Confrontation

Recently, a client asked me how she could improve the dynamics with a family member. in her words, "I don't like confrontation. I don't do that." This was not nearly the first time I heard something like this.

First, I asked her to expand on what the word confrontation said to her, and why she didn't "do that." Her response to was also not the first time I heard it, or something very similar. It's the meaning we assign to the word which creates the uncomfortable feelings.

Generally, people associate the word confrontation with a negative connotation. It suggests to them that if they confront someone with an issue, they will be see as mean, unpleasant, unreasonable, etc. It seems this is especially true for women. In the context of our society, which connotes confrontation with power, strength, directness, and permission to speak up, these are commonly granted with more allowance to males. Whether a person is male or female, avoidance of confrontation is often based in fear. This includes: fear of the reaction they will receive from the other (i.e. anger, rejection); fear of hurting, insulting, or otherwise negatively impacting the other; fear of loss of the relationship or connection; or fear of a negative change to how they are perceived.

In addition to reflecting on these thought changing considerations, let's change the words we use to soften the idea and make the approach a little easier. Try using: address a concern, share how you feel or how something has affected you, or ask for what you need. Speaking in this way to create change you need, is the very essence of how you value yourself. Making a choice to confront or not to confront can be seen as a decision to respect yourself, care for yourself, and allow yourself the kind of treatment you deserve and hope for from others. The way you treat yourself and how you allow yourself to be treated sends messages to others about what is acceptable to you and where your boundaries are.

Wellness requires you to take care of yourself physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. Ultimately, addressing your concerns is an integral piece of the wellness within yourself.

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East Longmeadow, MA 01028

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