Sunday, January 19, 2014

Locking Horns

This week I had a fight with someone.  Not an angry fight, but an emotional one.  

It's been a while and it reminded me how much I hate it.  

I've always seen my desire to avoid confrontation as a negative, but seriously who can blame me for wanting to shirk it?  I mean it is seriously crap.

And I am seriously crap at it.

In the heat of the moment I don't make the points I want to make, the points that need to be made and I predictably end up thinking of just the right thing to say half an hour after the fact.

On top of all that, conflicts like this make me doubt myself endlessly.  They have me questioning if I am a terrible person, selfish, ungenerous and emotionally incomplete.  Even a little crazy.

In the lead up to turning 40 I had been feeling pretty good about myself.  In the last couple of years I've done a lot of work on not defining myself by my flaws and getting okay with me just the way I am - faults and all.  I've been trying hard to drop the perfectionism by which I judge (and of course fail) my personality.  I've been striving to be more generous to myself emotionally, in the hopes that this will help me be more emotionally generous to those around me.

I thought I was doing okay.

But if one 15 minute conversation can undermine all this work, can set me back to really questioning if I am a horrible, irrational, mean-spirited person?  Then what does that say about my emotional resilience?  Basically that I have none.

As parents we hear a lot about resilience.  It's pretty much the number one quality we want to instill in our kids.  It's drummed into us as being of the highest priority.

But what if I'm not able to model resilience to my kids?  What if my 5 year old is more emotionally robust than me?

This morning my daughter had a total meltdown about not being able to set something up in the lounge room exactly the same way as she did it yesterday.  I'm hoping it was more about being tired and hot than anything else but as I calmed her down I had to wonder, was her behaviour really that much different to my own?  Didn't we both just lose it when things didn't go our way?

My behaviour was criticised.  And essentially I had a tantrum.

In that moment I had no ability to see beyond how hurt I felt by the criticism.  

I wish I had had a greater presence of mind, an ability to slow down and react more mindfully.  I could have made the situation less painful for myself, and for the person chastising me.

Looking back it feels like it showed a real lack of maturity. 

Perhaps that is why it has knocked me about so much.  Maybe I thought that I was all grown up now that I've turned 40.

Seems not.

I knew I still had a lot to learn.  Guess this was just a painful reminder.

How do you handle criticism and confrontation?

Listen to: John Lennon Crippled Inside 

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