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Why is confrontation so hard for me?

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completeshock posted 8/10/2014 19:59 PM

I'm not sure if confrontation is the word I'm looking for here, my thoughts are kind of jumbled at the moment.

Say you have a disagreement with someone, in my case I feel like my brother was very disrespectful towards me, how do you confront them about it? Like, after the fact, when you are still stewing because you didn't get to say your peace (piece?) and they are acting all nonchalant, everything is normal but you need to discuss it before you blow up?

I'm so bad at this and I know it has caused tension for me in relationships past. I stew and stew until they finally bring up something about it and then I explode all over them. This is not healthy.

How do you assert yourself in situations like this? I don't know how to bring it up in a more constructive way. I don't want this swept under the rug because I am very angry and very hurt right now. I honestly feel like if we cannot discuss this it is going to build in me to the point that it ruins our relationship.

ETA: The situation with my brother happened yesterday. He texted me a few times this evening as if nothing was wrong. I was pretty curt and short. I have not heard from him since. I feel like I need to say something.

[This message edited by completeshock at 8:02 PM, August 10th (Sunday)]

InnerLight posted 8/10/2014 20:09 PM

It is not easy for anyone, that's for sure.

Are you clear why you are so upset and hurt? Can you write down what happened objectively without judgement? What needs of yours are not being met?

When you are clear on all that ask him if he has time to talk.

Start with the stuff you appreciate about him so that you place your complaint in context of caring about him.

Use the kind of statements that are like, 'When you xyz, I felt abc and I didn't like that.' I need (whatever it is) and I felt (whatever it is) when this didn't happen. It would be helpful if you could (whatever it is) in the future...'

Some version of that so that you express your self clearly without jumping to negative conclusions about him, giving him space to take it in and to respond. Respecting his response even if you don't like it because he may not be willing to do what makes you feel better and that is his choice.

What do you think?

It is scarey as hell to have these types of conversations, especially when you are feeling hurt and upset. I have had my whole body shake having these conversations, but mostly they come out well. At least when I do this with my SO.

caregiver9000 posted 8/10/2014 20:14 PM

I may not be qualified to answer because I hate confrontation too. Avoid it if at all possible is my usual fall back response.

In your described situation, if there was an action that was disrespectful, I would discuss it with an "I feel ______ when ________________" statement. I would do this because the behavior is one (if you address) can be changed?

In other situations, I sometimes let a few days go by, ask myself if the conflict (even if it reoccurs) is one I am willing to put up with/accept in order to have the relationship. People have character flaws. I try to accept that the friends I choose in spite of those flaws, might cause me moments that are uncomfortable? Or I could be justifying my unwillingness to confront.

WhatsRight posted 8/10/2014 20:17 PM

I think waiting until the emotion has died down is always a good idea. Also, be sure that what you are trying to do is improve the relationship – not win. Sometimes people must agree to disagree – but that does not mean they need to accept disrespect.

Tell him that if you did not let him know how you were feeling, you would be selling him short. Tell him that you know he is a man of character and will recognize your attempt to make things right. But that you respect him enough to understand that getting the situation out in the open will do nothing but help the relationship be stronger.

When you have good intentions such as that – it is hard for something to backfire on you.

Good luck!

completeshock posted 8/10/2014 20:19 PM

I think waiting until the emotion has died down is always a good idea. Also, be sure that what you are trying to do is improve the relationship – not win. Sometimes people must agree to disagree – but that does not mean they need to accept disrespect.

But the longer I sit on this the more the anger is amping up.

Like anger to the point I am sick to my stomach.

I just texted him that I wanted to get together to talk, I know he is off tonight (works nights.) But he said he is not available until Wednesday. I honestly don't know if I can wait.

Sorry! I just re-read that an it sounds like a crazy drama queen. I'm just fuming.

[This message edited by completeshock at 8:34 PM, August 10th (Sunday)]

InnerLight posted 8/10/2014 22:22 PM

If you are fuming then it is good that you have to wait.

It sounds like he did a terrible thing. Even so, it's your job to manage your emotions and process it through, not his.

Can you write a big fuck you letter that you don't send? Exercise? Punch pillows and scream?

BTW, feeling disrespected is not a true emotion, it's a judgement of their actions. I had a counselor talk to me about this when I was irate at my SO. Do you have an IC to talk this over with?

caregiver9000 posted 8/10/2014 22:59 PM

feeling disrespected is not a true emotion, it's a judgement of their actions.

I will be pondering this for awhile.

I suspect it will be very helpful to me.

Sad in AZ posted 8/11/2014 06:06 AM

feeling disrespected is not a true emotion, it's a judgement of their actions

InnerLight very eloquently put exactly what I was thinking. If there was no confrontation at the time this happened, your brother probably has no idea he insulted you. DO NOT speak to him when you are so angry. It really is a good idea to write this out and sort it out. You've been given the gift of time to think; use it wisely. Lose the anger, but retain the hurt. Express that to him in a calm manner and see where it goes.

I truly feel your pain; I have no relationship with my brother, but he's batshit crazy. Even his kids won't talk to him anymore, and we were all so close Now he is in charge of my mom's finances, and I have to interact from time to time. It's excruciating.

LivingALie posted 8/11/2014 15:30 PM

I know exactly the feeling. I’ve been that a good part of my life – one thing I have to say my H’s affair did for me – was cure me of that!

Here’s what I do – try to stay calm, try to give your brother the benefit of the doubt. Communication is what we “hear” – maybe you heard wrong. But here is what I do now when I’m upset about something – and yes, it was darn scary the first few times I did it. But the more I do, the easier it gets. Here goes.

Me: Brother, can we talk about something for just a few minutes
Brother: Sure, ok..whats up
Me: Well, maybe I misunderstood something you said, but when you said: “___________ it made me feel ________________. Was I missing something, can you help me understand what you meant?”

Confrontation isn’t really so awful – if you do it when you’re calm and have really looked at all sides of the story – it really is only fair to the other person for you bring it up. Give them the benefit of the doubt. But again, try to bring it up when you’re calm and try not to be accusatory or defensive. Just put it on the table “When you said______________I felt _________; can we talk about it?”

You’ll feel better when you have the conversation with your brother. It’s more adult and it will get easier over time. If someone was upset with you – wouldn’t you want them to tell you so that you could set things right? Try to think of how you’d like someone to handle the situation with you.

One thing I learned from therapy is that sometimes we avoid conflict because we don’t want to rock the boat and we’re afraid of the outcome of the confrontation because we can’t control it. So instead we let it go and eventually build up resentment.

Also – the anger you may be feeling is angry at YOURSELF for not sticking up for yourself in the moment – that’s another thing I’ve learned. Why didn’t I say something??? Grrr..I would get so angry – but I realized it was at ME for not saying something.

Good luck.

Clorissa posted 9/2/2014 23:42 PM

Hi I'd like to share with you a learned experience on this topic. When heated topics arise i Tell that person I'm too upset right now to talk about this topic and i don't want to say something to hurt you because I love you. Tell them it's important we set a time and day so that I'm able to talk to you on this matter and share my concerns and views with love.
Tell them again that you love them and now you need to have alone time with yourself to understand why and what is causing you grief about the situation and how can you lovingly help this person
Sometimes it help to think how would you be able to hear advice from another on the topic if the tables were turned.
Write it out if that works and have it available for yourself at the time of discussion. I wish you well and hope this advice helps you in your journey of life.

thebighurt posted 9/3/2014 00:07 AM

This very situation was discussed with IC at a recent visit because of a certain relationship, or lack thereof, with a family member. This has been! She told me basically what others have said, but to say it when in the situation/discussion, not wait. Maybe because of my specific situation.

Pretty much the same: when you ***, it makes me feel *** and how I want a good relationship with that person that would look like ****. Basically it's been said here many times before of our WS or abusers, that we teach others how to treat us. By saying nothing at the time, they are learning what they can get away with.

Hugs to you (((CS))) I will be doing this soon, too.

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