So, I’ve come to this realization about confrontation. People don’t like it. It makes people uncomfortable. O…oops.
Well then. Unfortunately I’ve decided to be the grand freakn’ mascot for confrontation. I don’t know why; I’m missing a filter or something… I don’t know if other people feel like this, but I assume some must. I live in kind of disconnect; a limbo or something that protects me from my past social anxieties. To be honest I think its part training (honesty comes from awareness, a skill I honed in rehabilitation) and of course part medication. Thank you; Pharmaceuticals.
Sometimes it’s hard for me to remember I actually exist in a society and have to worry about how people will relate to me. I do try to practice tact, but more so I try to make it a point to be honest and maintain awareness through active presentation. This results in my “I don’t know when to shut the *** up” manner and I’m very out of practice when it comes to thinking before I speak. Thoughts = words almost immediately. Not much of a filter. And if I don’t articulate myself in speech or in writing then thoughts= overwhelming introspection which = anxiety.
I guess I’m just neurotic. I have to spend so much time making sure I don’t suffocate in my internal world that I often don’t hesitate to externalize it. I guess not everyone has practice doing that and I can remember a time when I was afraid to be the bearer of verbalized truth. I still am in certain respects. But really, who cares? Why is so hard to admit that we’re wrong, we’re flawed, we’re sorry, we were unsuccessful, we’ve acted pathetically… Not to say that hearing or admitting those things is easy or pleasurable at all. But words no longer contain their power when they’re not being hushed and treated as though they are contraband. The Truth exists whether we say it or not. The only difference is when articulated, we have the opportunity to learn, to be challenged, to gain an outsiders perspective or to study and analyze an outsiders reaction.
And yes manners exist and a conversation does have a specific time and place of suitability. But the way I see it, voicing our thoughts and feelings makes the fear of being exposed vanish. I lived so much of adolescence in that very fear. I didn’t want anyone to know that I had no idea what the *** I was doing. I was winging it- still am. Now you know.
I know, the truth can be hurtful and we don’t want to offend anyone. But personally, I take much more offence when someone ignores me or yes’s me to death. I know sometimes it’s about fear and not necessarily condescension, but if I’m taking the risk of being honest can you at least show a little recognition. Being disregarded hurts more than any verbalized truth because it’s sheer abandonment; I have presented my feeble human identity in spite of judgment, and you will not to the same. I’m naked and you are fully clothed.
Fear of confrontation is fear of abandonment; fear of being left helpless and vulnerable. So instead of risk this heartache we maintain our power and leave those around us vulnerable. Do you see what I’m getting at?
Withholding ones feelings on the matter is compromising oneself in fear of getting screwed over. And though this can take the form of people pleasing, generally associated with kindness, it is completely self-serving. Its cowardice or its apathy; for whatever reason, this hypothetical person won’t stand up for themselves so they become a reflex of those around them. It can seem strong, it often seems selfless, because a person is not acting deliberately on their own needs. But it’s not; it’s someone who is trying to buy acceptance by resisting conflict. And while the rest of us find the strength within ourselves to go after our emotional needs, they make us feel inferior by letting us believe that they have mastered them. But rest assured, we all have them just some of us have found and developed emotional suppressants. It’s not selfish to voice your concerns, your fears, your thoughts and feelings. It’s hard, it means admitting you are vulnerable.
There’s a balance mind you, I struggle to keep myself in check. I do at times have shady intentions and demand attention out of greed. But I do try to speak out of genuine care knowing my peers may not relate or might suspect ulterior motives. I believe that the risk of ringing false and of being judged as incompetent is worth the practice. We need to face the reality of our true powerlessness and learn to submit ourselves for ourselves, and not because it’s easier to be at the mercy of an audience. It’s something I need to manage. I can get caught up in believing I need to be entertaining to be whole person and I thus submit my powers others. Sometimes I pull back in fear of failure as I think of relying on my own. This is abandonment of self.
But there will be times when you will be genuinely true to yourself. You will be absolutely naked in your sincerity without the armor of spite, condescension, and sometimes even humor. You will appear bare, harmless, and weak silently praying for the compassion that you will not be shown. You will be abandoned and it will burn. That is the difference between those who confront earnestly and those who do not. One risks abandonment while the other does the abandoning. One is brave while the other is cowardly. One believes that this truth it is worth the risk of humiliation, while the other either does not, or is not brave enough to return that risk. In my experience, when I am true to myself, under my breath I am hoping to be accepted despite my honesty and desire to express it. When I am not, it’s either because I don’t care or I don’t trust that I will.
It all goes back to power. If you find yourself in uncomfortable situation and withdrawing from confrontation, you illuminate any chance of lifting the tension. That’s not fair to anyone- especially not you. Your friend may feel the distance and show you their anguish in all its pathos and frailty and you do not reaffirm their faith in you to care. They come to you in surrender and so you appear the victor. But you know what? *** that. Because there is so much more power in assertion of self.
True, words are often used as cunning forms of manipulation; in fact, it’s rare to see them used otherwise. But we can easily say the same thing for silence. Both tactics can be used to hurt others and/or to hide our own fragility. Genuine sincerity takes real strength and bravery. To say “Yes I care” knowing the feelings may not be reciprocated is really really hard. To say “No I don’t” is so selfless in its authenticity as you are bearing the discomfort of causing immediate pain to condense the journey to its inevitability. “I care and I know you don’t” is transparent in its blatant manipulation. And To say “*** off” Is abrasive self-defense or just plain cruel.
But we’re getting closer. Past the desire for spite and to convey the internal pain, comes honesty in the form of clever/creative manipulation. I don’t know that it’s ever truly possible to distinguish between this subtle control and sincerity. I still believe words cannot express totality, especially because everything seems to look more impressive on paper. I guess non-expressed truth is much messier; it’s a concoction of self-centered denials, and raw, uncomfortable emotion. And once converted and articulated it becomes removed, traceable and somehow normalized. Feelings aren’t organized in their true presence and are often accompanied by ever changing and opposing perceptions. But silence, though understandable through the human inclination toward self-preservation, is abandonment. It is saying without having the decency to say “I’m not going to bother, so deal with this situation on your on your own.”
The power in sincerity is equivalent to the power in any form of achievement. It takes work to figure out and articulate how exactly you feel. But once you know, it’s really a whole different ball game. In fact you’re not playing a game anymore, you’re being real, and to rise above childish antics- that feels powerful. You have lifted the burden of uncertainty and now have the power to eloquently express the sincere truth.
None of this is easy in practice. It’s automatic to conceal weakness when we express ourselves. I’m certainly guilty of it. And I have a lot of practice going beyond transparent spite into creative forms of manipulation. But past creative manipulation- there is sincere truth. It has to be fought for and found and when the anguish is very present, we may not have the strength to execute our search. And once found for the moment, we have to be responsible in our expression and be careful not to cause further regret. The truth has to be delivered with caution if we are hoping for any kind of salvation.
Sounds manipulative, doesn’t it? It is. But everyone has a different understanding and a different point of view. Intentions will not come across with accuracy to every personality.
Everyone tends to take statements/ non-statements as personal attacks first and for-most. In time or with practice we can learn to weed out the constructive criticism and/or ulterior motives. I find that girls tend to turn the discomfort inward and see it as a true testament to their innate sense of worthlessness. Boys tend to turn the discomfort outward and see it as a true testament to their peer’s worthlessness. Hardly anyone can see the discomfort for what it really is; a means of self-preservation. It’s nothing more or less than one person either articulating or disguising their vulnerabilities at another person’s expense. So taking this into account, the only way for the truth to be evaluated without being treated as a weapon, is to present it artfully.
I find girls to be hyper- sensitive to a lack of compassion. We want to be assured that we are understood because we are inclined to doubt ourselves. Boys are almost automatically defensive; compassion can be interpreted as condescension in their eyes. They seem to be sensitive to differences in words and tone and are extra weary of manipulation. I think the bottom line is that we all give each other too much credit. We see the other person as stronger as and more cunning than they are in actuality. We judge with bruised egos and see their action or lack thereof as a deliberate measure taken against us. When really, it’s the same weakness we feel and it’s taken in their own defense.
Look, I make mistakes. I can be an evil, conniving, and self-righteous ***. But I reassess my understandings and I question my motives often. Because in all honestly, at the end of the day, I just want to be a good person. I don’t like this; this uncomfortable uncertainty involved in living. I don’t like the self-destructive lies we all hide under. As humans, I just sort of feel like we’re in this together. So here, these are the lessons that have helped me be a better person. And if this rings insincere and sharing this truth doesn’t give you a deep sense of human inter-connection, well sucks to be you, because sharing this does it for me.
Just kidding… I do my thing and you do your thing. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations, And you are not in this world to live up to mine. You are you, and I am I, and if by chance we find each other, it's beautiful. If not, it can't be helped.
- Gestalt Prayer