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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Confrontation and the Peacemaker

I read an article recently about people who knowingly hurt others by evasion, lies, subterfuge, etc., and how hard it is for the other to confront the "perpetrator". This subject is very important, I believe, because it brings a subject to the table that few seem to fully understand.

In my private practice as an integral pyschotherapist, clients will often tell me that they do not like confrontations because they consider themselve "peacemakers", and yet, when they behave in this "peace-loving" way, they do not feel good about themselves. In this small observation, lies, I believe, the core of the problem.

Simply stated: if you do not show yourself that you love and care for yourself when others do or say the unacceptable, i.e, when they cross boundaries in unhealty ways, your inner core suffers, the way your child would suffer if you did not care for it when attacked in some fashion. It comes down to a question of self-love. People find it hard to confront others because doing so creates great fear on an inner level, generally because of something that happened when they were a child and were dependent on the love and care of others - even if the "something" that happened was only in their perception, or relatively minor (i.e, not major abuse). So they learned to accept what was not necessarily good, and did so in order (on some subconscious level of thinking) to ensure that they would continue to be cared for. As adults, the confrontation brings up that childhood fear of disapproval and rejection.

To make a long story short, the “cure” for this dislike or fear of confrontation is to first understand the connection between it and lack of self-love (because it was never properly learned to love the self), and then to begin to practice “confronting” in situations that are not as stressful as others. For example, a haughty maître d’ at a restaurant that has served you unacceptably cooked food, might be a good place to start by returning the dish. Once a small practice of confronting has begun, the individual notices how much better he/she feels each time it is done, and then notices much more clearly how “bad” he/she feels (particularly in the solar plexus, where a clenching may take place each time a confrontation is avoided), and recognizes that by avoiding the confrontation (which often is just a question of saying to the other person: “this is not acceptable”), they are continually giving themselves the subliminal message that they do not love themselves enough to do this. (Also see my articles on boundaries and love of the self).

Photo Credit: Idea go

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