What comes to your mind when I say the word confront?
If you’re like most people I’ve met, you think of words like attack or contention, or just plain start a fight, and your instincts might be to tense up internally, prepare for unpleasantness, and seek to avoid that confrontation at all costs.
Did you know that this is only one potential outcome of one of the definitions of the word?
The definition of confront, according to the Cambridge English dictionary (and almost any English dictionary you use) is:
And here’s the trick: EVERY life on this planet is going to come face-to-face with difficult problems, situations, and people. EVERY one. Multiple times. Things in our lives that cannot be avoided.
Now, you still have a choice. Confront the difficult thing, or not.
But if it’s not confronted, it won’t be dealt with. Most of the time it won’t go away. Lots of the time, it gets worse.
That unpleasant work situation.
That weird lump in your side that won’t go away.
That thing your spouse does that hurts you.
That roommate who won’t clean up after themselves.
Left unconfronted, each of these things can and will get worse–sometimes not in and of themselves, but in interpersonal interactions, the fact that the other person may not know or may know but also knows you won’t say anything about it, means it won’t stop if things are left as-is. When it doesn’t stop, your irritation festers until your reaction, which comes far too late, is also disproportionate to the crime which has been going for far too long, and relationships are damaged, sometimes irrevocably.
Here’s another important fact: we get better at tasks that we practice (and they get easier). We don’t get better at tasks we avoid.
Hard things come to everyone. That is guaranteed. So the trick is not to avoid them or for them to magically get worked out by other forces. Both those paths are impossible. The trick is to face them, accept them, and DEAL WITH THEM. Which takes CONFRONTATION. It REQUIRES it.
But here’s the cool thing: once you accept that the hard thing has happened, and you learn to confront well–that is, tactfully, thoughtfully, at the appropriate (early) time–through PRACTICE (that means DOING it), not only will the act of confrontation become easier and less problematic (because you learn how to deal with it better), but your life will become happier. Because you have more power in it, can fix more problems, and accept and better recognize those things you cannot change.
So go out there and confront, my friends. Face things. Face situations. Face people. Do it with kindness, empathy, and lots of thought. Have peace.