Everyone knows the phrase “walking on eggshells” very well. Anyone who has spent time caught in a narcissist’s web knows and lives this phrase a little too well. It is an appropriate term to use when one has had to be cautious of every step taken, or every word spoken, in order to keep the peace, or most likely, keep themselves safe.
Are you afraid of confrontation? Do you neglect to ask a question in times that you really need to ask one? Are you afraid of losing relationships in your life if you decide to set boundaries? Do you say anything if someone does or says something that you don’t like? Do you allow others to take you for granted because of your inability to speak up for yourself? These are all signs of having a fear of confrontation.
I developed having a fear on confrontation because of my narcissistic father. Anytime I would ask for something or crave intimacy and love I be shamed for doing so because of the fact that it would detract from the endless amount of love and care that a narcissist thinks he or she needs, and no one has the right to ask for such things except for the narcissist. A narcissist has to win at all times, at all costs. In my case it was at the expense of my happiness, will power, health, self-confidence and self-integrity. I ended up as a shell of human being. I had no idea what I wanted, who I was, or what I really deserved. I craved approval by constantly asking people for advice and direction, waiting for affirmation on anything that I said or did, and making myself small and weak… all of these actions in an effort to not break any of the proverbial eggshells that I saw around me. I learned to be afraid of confrontation as well as think that it is an ineffective tool that leads me feeling more powerless and just led to an incredible amount of fighting and arguing. I also thought that most issues I was the cause of and that led to my isolation.
Living this way is not a very good way to live, as well as very draining. It is very draining for us as well as the others around us as well (unless the other is a narcissist, then we are very fitting to their psychosis). Possessing a fear of confrontation does allow you to live your best self and worth. It stunts you as well as allows you to become a doormat, or worse a punching bag. I used to be afraid of confrontation because I thought it would upset the other person, I would seem as though I was needy/mean/too much/ect, or it would ruin relationships. I thought making myself small would make me easy to get along with and likeable. It only made me unbearable. And that killed me inside. And it was fuel to perpetuate this vicious cycle I was in.
The first thing to understand is that there is no shame for standing up for yourself. Confrontation can look a lot like fighting if someone has been in a hostile environment. If you are someone who has been hurt frequently in their life, it is understandable that you might feel as if you are very sensitive and feeling like you are standing up for yourself for everything, that is a normal reaction. Confrontation is necessary because it allows a balance of energy between two people. If someone is taking too much from you, and you do not gracefully address, essentially it is your responsibility that the problem persists because unless you speak up about it the other person will live in ignorance and keep repeating the same patterns unless you have a conversation about it. Choose your battles. And with whom you go into battle with.
Second of all, know that your opinion and needs matter. And believe that. Then, find the proper strategy. When confronting someone it is essential to use the words “I feel” instead of “You this and this, or so and so” and pointing out directly what they are doing wrong. Become assertive, and not aggressive. When people are first starting off standing up for themselves many actions that others see as passive still seem pretty assertive to the protagonist. They are not, but there clearly is a learning curve on being assertive. It might also feel like you are being an asshole or a bitch when you first start standing up for yourself. You are not. There are times when you have to fight fire with fire, that does not define you or does it represent that a relationship is going to fail. Some are (the bad ones), but mostly not any of them are. Confrontation does not use negative techniques such as any kind of abuse such as threatening or name calling but, instead utilizes respect and has the intention to work things out in a better fashion.
Once you realize that you matter and have a good intention with your words and trust your delivery during a confrontation, then there is no reason to not speak up for yourself. If someone does not receive it well it is important to understand that is something that is out of your control, and that this is opportunity for you to practice stating something without feeling guilt or shame after someone does not receive it in the way that you thought they would. This is an opportunity to practice boundaries. It is also important not to take things too personally. Don’t let fear be the motive behind making requests or statements. You can at least be happy with yourself that you spoke up for yourself, and that is the right step in the right direction.
Confrontation is when two or more people bring their values, beliefs, and opinions together to ideally find a solution or a compromise. Coming out of confrontation usually leads two parties stronger. Be your own advocate. Trust yourself. Standing up for yourself should be empowering. Think about it, would you rather be liked or liked respected?
Written by: Anna (Creator of Echos Corner)