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To think that I can change/get rid of this personality trait

(31 Posts)
Foreverunsure Thu 14-Dec-17 01:07:55

It might be a habit, or call it a personality trait, either way, I am really bad at confrontation.
I can't take confrontation, something inside me just stops me even when I know I'm right, that I'm being wronged, that I need to take a certain step for my own sake... both in important and trivial circumstances.
I just have this need to make sure things never escalate. Even if I have to compromise something I don't want to compromise. The few times I have pushed myself to confront someone, I end up feeling like crap and upset with myself. Now I'm fed up of this. I'm in my 40s and it's ridiculous. I just get angry inside, and then those around me struggle to understand why I'm in such grumpy mood.
Is it unreasonable to think that I can change this, even though this is who I've been my whole life? And how? practice?

RichmondAvenue Thu 14-Dec-17 01:10:57

I'm exactly the same.

TrollTheRespawnJeremy Thu 14-Dec-17 01:12:08

Practise does make perfect.

Learning that it's ok to feel uncomfortable about things is important. As is recognising that if you're feeling uncomfortable then you probably aren't in a fair position.

Compromise is important, and can be a great trait for the odd favour etc but you can't have entire relationships built on it.

Focus on this anger that you're experiencing and project it towards those who actually deserve the anger. (Ie: Not you.)

Foreverunsure Thu 14-Dec-17 01:13:41

Richmond isn't it the most frustrating thing ever, especially when you're aware you're doing it but can't help it? ugh!

troll but then things will escalate. And I'll feel rubbish, almost as if I've "failed" iyswim

BitOfFun Thu 14-Dec-17 01:31:36

You sound like an ideal candidate for CBT; you have already identified the issue, and that is a great starting point for some brief and focused talking therapy. I think it would make a huge difference to you.

CantSleepClownsWillEatMe Thu 14-Dec-17 01:32:18

You can change it but it takes practice and effort. For a start I'd recommend you stop thinking of interactions as "confrontation". I'm honestly not being snarky when I say that Op it's just I notice both on MN and in RL that people say they don't like/can't deal with confrontation when often they're talking about voicing a different opinion or requesting something perfectly reasonable and not confrontation at all.

If you find you clam up or you fall over your words it's probably because you're feeling anxious. I find it helpful to focus on controlling my breathing which then makes it easier to speak calmly and slowly. You're less likely to stumble over your words and I find people take you more seriously.

It's worth thinking about an assertiveness course too. A friend of mine did this through her job and although she had initially been very reluctant (she felt assertive and aggressive were the same thing), once she decided to do it with an open mind she found it very beneficial.

Foreverunsure Thu 14-Dec-17 01:37:39

BitOfFun Good idea, I might see if I can book sessions.

Cantsleep You are right, and I know what you mean, I definitely think somewhere in my brain "interaction" and "confrontation" get sometimes confused. I'd never heard of assertiveness courses, I'm going to look into those too.

Pannacott Thu 14-Dec-17 02:06:29

This online course is excellent. If it doesn't help as much as you'd like, book CBT, and take these materials along to show what you e already tried. Good luck! This is eminently changeable.

Foreverunsure Thu 14-Dec-17 02:38:19

Thank you Pannacott I've had a look and it does look promising.

MrsTerryPratchett Thu 14-Dec-17 04:21:51

Thing is that if you have anger, justified anger, and never express it, it turns into passive aggression. And people would much rather deal with a little anger than passive aggression. So you are actually doing people a favour expressing your anger once in a while.

Could you give us an example?

HopefullyAnonymous Thu 14-Dec-17 04:34:56

It can be done. I used to be exactly the same; I’ve since joined the police so confrontation is par for the course! I found that getting used to dealing with difficult situations (and feeling confident doing so) in my professional life allowed me to become more assertive in my personal life, which was where most of my anxiety was focused.

Gaudeamus Thu 14-Dec-17 05:37:29

Yes you definitely can change this! I felt precisely like you and spend years in a simmering rage because I never could deal with conflict or even disagreement, and let it fester inside making me ill. I was meek and furious at the same time.

I did a CBT assertiveness course and it has made such a difference. I found out how to place boundaries, state my opinion, challenge others, make requests and give instructions, all perfectly politely and amicably. I ended up leading inspections in secure psychiatric institutions, and have been commended on doing so constructively, tactfully and decisively.

I've found coping with confrontation is mostly a set of techniques that you can learn simply through study and practice. It doesn't matter if it doesn't come naturally. The magic of it is that being assertive actually means you encounter less conflict and anger, because people prefer and find it easier to deal with someone who's confident and straightforward. It's definitely worth working on.

Gaudeamus Thu 14-Dec-17 05:38:14


fabulousfrumpyfeet Thu 14-Dec-17 05:44:40

I was/am a bit like this. For me it's dealing with the fact that people may feel negatively towards me for not supporting them or their position. I've improved a bit by asserting myself in small ways and learning to ride out the discomfort. I think people actually respect you more when you have clear boundaries, and don't like you any less. I'm still a work in progress though.

MsHopey Thu 14-Dec-17 06:12:43

I'm 26, I try everything to not have any form of confrontation. That's with family, colleagues and customers in the place I work.
As soon as it escalates into something, I cry. I don't want to, I'm aware I look like a knob, but I can't stop.
Last year a customer was taking the piss with something, I hated saying something, but I knew if I didn't I'd get a bollocking. So it was confrontation either way. I politely asked the customer to stop, she flew off the handle, shouting and swearing at me. There I was, 6 months pregnant and had to run away crying.
If you find the secret to stop giving a shit, let me know. Because I need it.
What makes me laugh is I know people who say I should stick to for myself more, but if I stick up for myself to them, they never like it.

blubberball Thu 14-Dec-17 06:24:26

Another one here. I hate myself for getting upset. I only took control of a situation once, when we went out one evening years ago, for a friend's birthday. A drunk outside the pub decided to try to start a fight with my husband. I stood and shouted at this guy to back off. He towered over me, but kept stepping towards him and shouting louder. I was surprised that it worked, and the drunk backed away and shut his mouth. That's the only time. Maybe because I had no idea who this guy was, and knew that I was firmly in the right. I don't know. Other than that, I'm a shaking wreck dealing with angry people.

Foreverunsure Thu 14-Dec-17 10:55:21

MrsTerry Yes, for example the other day DP walked into the kids' room while they were asleep, he was looking for his phone and wondering if it was in their room. Then he said "where on earth is is?" and he was a bit loud so I went in there to tell him to be quieter as to not wake up the kids. He said "I wasn't that loud and there is an important message I need to see so PLEASE don't make a fuss about this right now" and he sounded a bit upset. What I felt was that he shouldn't be talking to me like that, because I was right and he knew it, all he had to do was keep quiet. But I backed down and said "ok, ok, sorry" at the same time feeling this rage build inside me. I left the room and went to our bedroom and closed the door and cried.
I know it wasn't a huge deal - we have an otherwise good relationship, he's a caring man and hands on dad etc. - and I know I felt this way because I never ever say anything when something upsets me just in case it leads to confrontation. And it builds up. I just don't know what else I could've said/done to be constructive and not feel like shit about myself.

Foreverunsure Thu 14-Dec-17 10:57:46

Hopefully and Gaudeamus I am thinking about CBT and assertiveness training, yes. Trying to ignore the tiny voice inside that says I'm making a fuss and I shouldn't

MsHopey and Blub I know what you mean flowers

Foreverunsure Thu 14-Dec-17 10:59:08

fabulous I think for me the problem is that I feel, on some level, that my anger isn't valid if that makes sense?

AtrociousCircumstance Thu 14-Dec-17 11:08:47

Your husband was being a twat then. He let you know that he wasn’t going to be quiet, he and his oh so important phone were more important than your children’s sleep, and more important than your feelings about that.

The trouble is because he escalated it so immediately it acts as a threat that if you respond it will get even worse/more conflict.

Control tactic.

Foreverunsure Thu 14-Dec-17 11:19:46

Yes Atrocious it is a control tactic and I suspect me and DH have personalities that complement each other - him being a bit controlling and me being the sort that avoids confrontation. He probably doesn't know about my inner rage except those times when it builds up and I lose my shit

Foreverunsure Thu 14-Dec-17 11:21:10

And I'm not saying it's ok that he did that. It's just I really have no clue what else I could've said or done that would have been constructive for both? it's like I don't have the software in my program grin

MrsTerryPratchett Thu 14-Dec-17 15:49:56

Really quick trick...

I feel...

So "when you told me not to make a fuss, it made me feel upset because I'm entitled to my feeling. Please don't in future." Very calmly.

I think though that he may have 'trained' you and this behaviour may be more difficult to shift because it's about the dynamic not your personality. Anyone else you struggle with (parent, I'm guessing)?

Lethaldrizzle Thu 14-Dec-17 16:24:41

I don't think being confrontational is a great personality trait either. You need to find a happy medium but it also sounds like you are getting angry at things they are just not worth the effort. Ignore husband when he's like that. Everyone's an idiot sometimes.

Foreverunsure Thu 14-Dec-17 16:48:58

lethal yes you're right.** It's probably all that piled up resentment that makes me upset over trivial stuff.**

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