Tuesday, November 18, 2014

What if, instead of resisting it, you could love it?

While talking with my accountability coaching partner a couple of weeks ago, he asked me, rather persistently, "What do you resist?"

Because whatever you resist, persists.

Finally, quietly, I admitted.

"I resist confrontation."

A few days later, talking with my own coach about one of my clients, I remembered the conversation and told him about it.  Once again I admitted my emotional Achilles Heel.

He said, "What if, instead of resisting it, you could love it?"

I've been thinking about it ever since.  As I've said many times in this blog, I am no stranger to self-help, change, and all sorts of emotionally immature positions.  Over the years I have embodied all sorts of damaged people.  For example, I haven't always resisted confrontation.  Once upon a time, I walked the world, a big oozing open sore just waiting to complain.  I have experienced road rage at something as simple as a driver in another car maneuvering out of turn in traffic.  I used to have an opinion about everything and I was eager to share them and debate with you.  At some point, someone, whose opinion I cared about, told me, "You really like to argue."  Even as I voiced, "No I don't," I wasn't immune to the realization that my very protestation was, in fact, the potential beginning of yet another argument.

A part of me understands that, under the Law of Attraction, we attract whatever we hold a great deal of energy about.  Not only do we attract it, but we attract it according to the frequency by which we are tuned.  If we have a great deal of negative energy about money, for instance, and have a bunch of negative limiting beliefs like "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer," we're likely to find ourselves walking the treadmill of our beliefs.  I have a great deal of negative energy about confrontation.  I've walked the walk of an "assertive personality" to the point where I was really rather aggressive.  I've talked the talk of a "passive personality" to the point where I was criticized as a "doormat" and suffered greater friendship losses than back when I would actively pick a fight with them.

What if, instead of resisting confrontation, I could love it?

When I first admitted my resistance to my accountability partner, we were talking about one of my clients.  As per what I saw as our "agreement," I was coaching her and giving her assignments in line with the curriculum.  Each week, despite my request for emails documenting the work she had done, I would receive nothing.  My inquiries at our next meeting as to whether she had performed a task were usually met with, "I forgot."  When I talked about the experience with either my accountability partner or my coach, they suggested phrases they might have said which felt rude or abrasive to my ears.

When I was a kid, my parents used to fight.  I don't think a week could go by without what felt like a very large brouhaha to my ears.  In Woody Allen's "Radio Days" the main character talks about his own parents fighting, "Then there was my father and mother.  Two people would could find an argument in any subject."  The scene cuts to the actors playing the parents arguing over which is the greater ocean.  The Atlantic or the Pacific.  "I mean, how many people fight over oceans?"

I can remember being dragged into their arguments as a kid.  Being asked to choose which one of them was right and while I struggled in miserable indecision, they never quieted down to see if I gave an answer.  As an adult riding in the back seat of their car listening to them bicker, I said, "Stop fighting.  I'm sick of listening to you fight."  In unison they turned and looked at me.  "This isn't fighting.  You think this is fighting?  I can show you fighting.  Would you like to see fighting?"  

If I were to pick a visualization metaphor for how I feel during confrontation.  I would pick one of those gelatinous creatures you sometimes find high and dry at the beach.  I guess they are some sort of jellyfish caught in the wrong place at the wrong time when the tide shifted.  Exposed and vulnerable, they can't protect themselves if you should decide to poke them and puncture them with a stick.  Honestly, I know I'm not that vulnerable, but the harsh words in a confrontation feel very much like being taunted with a stick.  No matter what I do, whether I try to shield myself or not, the person brandishing the stick will shove it and wave it until they feel they are done.  Really I feel less like a jellyfish than Frankenstein's monster cornered by the villagers, helplessly grunting, but thinking, "Your beef is with Frankenstein, the doctor.  I'm just the creature.  I didn't ask for any of this.  I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Except some times I am the doctor, not the creature.  I once found myself in a heated debate with the love of my life about which was better, Apple computers or PCs.  It ended as all of our confrontations did, with him having pulled away and me, willing to rewrite all of my programming if I could only see him smile.  Once we began that little confrontational dance, we would find ourselves caught in its rhythm every three months or so.  Right up until the end.  Sometimes I wouldn't even have a firm grasp on just what it was that I had said or I had done to cause his discomfort.  For me, the only part significant or important; the only part that hurt, was his pulling away.

What if, instead of resisting confrontation, I could love it?

I think my difficulty with the question stems from the fact it isn't a goal I can achieve.  Rather it is a byproduct of other things.  Confrontation hurts because I take its attacks personally and see it as a source and cause of rejection.  Confrontation disturbs because I view my peace of mind as being something others can disrupt and damage.  Confrontation threatens because I see speaking up for myself as an act of defiance.

What if, instead of resisting confrontation, I could love it?

It would mean I have truly accepted myself for who I am and I would attract others who have done the same.

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