Confrontation: An Act of Intimacy

Confrontation has unfortunately developed both a negative connotation and a tarnished reputation. In its expression it often gets imbued with criticism, defensiveness, sometimes rage and shaming. The recipient can end up shell-shocked, disoriented, lost in the shrapnel and atomic dust clouds of being ripped apart, scattered and trying to gather him or herself back together.

And that is the issue, that confrontation can be fueled by suppressed anger and hurt, no longer able to be restrained; and when the container bursts, anger is unleashed in fury and vitriol. The deliverer is saturated with hurt as he unveils his pain to the other with unbridled and raw force, at times attacking another’s heart and personhood.

But confrontation is actually intended to be healing for both parties. Its delivery is not done in nose-to-nose combat and hostile words, but a compassionate and vulnerable revelation, allowing the receiver to see one’s self more clearly; for we are all lost in the shadows of ourselves to some degree.

When the deliverer shares honestly about how they are impacted by another’s behavior, the hurt that surfaces and how it is obstructive to connection, it can create a subtle shift within the other. Sharing from a place of how one is impacted and feels in the context of another’s behavior is far more powerful than an attack towards the other, which tends to quickly kick the walls up. What becomes clearer to the receiver is his own self and injured/unhealed ways of operating in the world.

Confrontation is about connection and generating greater closeness with the other. It is a sacred opportunity to reveal one’s self even further and the other’s impact to their own heart. It is meaningful to both, including the relationship as a whole. The message communicated is that, “something is obstructing or inhibiting our closeness and you living out of your true self; the way you are coping or handling life is blocking you from thriving and experiencing freedom.”

It is like a relational “splinter” where every time you step, that nagging, acute pain makes its presence known, hindering engagement. That “splinter” is usually defined by defense mechanisms and/or destructive coping habits that guard against emotion and the vulnerable self.

Confrontation is also for the well-being of the deliverer, in the sense that they heal when they care for their own heart and the pain felt within, and are vulnerable before the other. It is a mirror for both, that can result in beautiful growth and flourishment, instead of detachment. Although scary, it is an integral part of becoming authentically human, alive and more connected.