Our perceptions of people originate in a very connected way to ourselves and how we interact with the world. This is why it’s so important to really know ourselves: how we operate and make the decisions that we do. Why some things evoke strong emotions from us and not others. The better we know ourselves the healthier our relationships with others will be.
I have often been asked the question (or one similar to it): are you looking for a fight? Sometimes it comes as an accusation: you like to start a fight! If the truth is told, neither is true of me. I grew up in a home that fighting was routine, be it either my parents or one of my parents with my older brother. In the early days, things were thrown and broken but there were always loud voices. Though I would never want someone to grow up this way (and I have worked hard for this pattern to not continue with my children and sometimes fail) I wonder if it has been a direct contributor to my ability to not back down in the face of conflict.
There is a massive difference between fighting and healthy conflict. Fighting is a form of conflict but it’s not a healthy one. Conflict is inevitable in life but how you handle it is essential to health. I am the type of person who likes to take conflict head-on. I will engage in it when I believe it to be important. I have learned as I get older that some of the conflicts I thought were important are actually not. I try to be selective about my conflict but I don’t hide from it.
This is likely why some people view me as a person who looks for or enjoys fighting but I think that could be a larger reflection of them than me. Some people are quiet and fear, hide, or refuse to enter into conflict. I could say things about those people and put them in a box because of that behavior but I don’t. I’m saddened when I see it because it’s not healthy- it’s actually just as unhealthy as dealing with conflict in an angry way but more socially acceptable for understandable reasons.
But just as I don’t want to look down on them for how they handle conflict I would hope people would do the same for me but it continues that people misunderstand my straightforwardness or sometimes outright confrontation. I want to deal with things that need to be dealt with. I want to not hide things in the darkness. If there is an issue let’s put it on the operating table, cut that sucker open, and figure out what’s making it ugly so we can deal with it and move forward in a healthy way. This is an uncomfortable process. People feel more comfortable with the monster festering under the table or in the closet. At the risk of sounding like Rihanna, I am friends with the monsters under my bed because I know them and we work together. I am finding ways to use my weaknesses to help myself and others. Mark Manson said that our weaknesses lose power if we embrace them. I am grabbing hold of my monsters and teaching them so that they don’t lead me. Ignoring things doesn’t make them go away, ever.
If you want to view me negatively because I own my faults and dive into conflict then I’m very ok with that. I like who I am and am confident in myself – even my weaknesses. I do my best to speak the truth in love and apologize when I fail but if my personality, values, and how I live my life don’t work or feel comfortable for you, that’s ok. It’s my life, not yours. We can set up some healthy boundaries that work for both of us 😉