How To Avoid Confrontation
by Art Ramsay, Ph.D.

 Before I get into this article, let me first describe what I mean by the title. Confrontation can appear in many guises, but for our use here it is when you take something personally, thereby causing or exacerbating a situation in which you feel confronted. Also, in personal growth, avoidance doesn't usually help you move past whatever is up for you. The way I use it here is for you to avoid causing a confrontation or exacerbating one. I hope that makes sense.

 I have written previous articles on personal responsibility and not taking things personally, or have included those ideas in other articles. I believe it is crucial to our daily lives that everyone understands those two ways of relating to others and to ourselves. You surely can avoid confrontation by not taking whatever is said or done as if it was aimed directly at you. Along with that, taking responsibility for your actions or words goes a long way in avoiding confrontation.

 Of all the debilitating emotional states that people engage in, taking things personally tops the list. I see it everywhere, and have observed its devastating effects on friends, family, and clients. It is one of the four agreements that Don Miguel Ruiz's book of the same name emphasizes. Why is it such a challenge for people? Getting “hurt” by someone is based on a belief, or beliefs, embraced early in life that has led to low self-esteem or self-worth. Let’s look deeper and discover what we can do to remove this effect from our lives.

 Taking things personally, whether it be directly from another person or indirectly from an event, or something read or heard, stems from something being triggered in your unconscious mind. Even though the remembrance takes you back to the original experience, which could be over with in seconds or minutes, it festers internally making you feel like a victim. Now, you decide that there is a perpetrator who must be punished for doing such a terrible thing to you.

 Here is where personal responsibility comes into play. Who is responsible for how you respond to whatever happens in your life? Of course, the answer to the question is you. How you respond to whatever is going on sets up conditions for the next action that will take place. If you take some word, phase, or action personally, which usually brings up anger or some other low-vibration energy (emotion), your response will lead to confrontation in some way.

 The hardest thing for someone to do is see things from someone else’s perspective. In fact, it may not even be possible for you to understand even if the person where to explain that perspective. We have to understand that whatever was said or done was from the other person's perspective and not yours. Therefore, the probability is that how it was meant is not how it was understood by you. Throw in a belief that was triggered by whatever occurred and you have instant 'hurt' due to the remark or whatever.

The most difficult time to guard against taking things personally is when we are around our birth-family during a holiday or other family gathering. Our family members are the ones who will provide triggers for beliefs to surface and be played out through taking things personally. It is your responsibility to act in a responsible way when you respond or choose not to respond. Herein lies the challenge – how to respond appropriately.

 When someone triggers an unconscious belief, we can choose to process it in the moment, or save it for a more appropriate time. But processing the belief, or the trigger if the belief isn't apparent, is far more important to you than taking it personally and responding inappropriately. It takes an awareness beyond the average person's understanding to realize what is happening and deal with it appropriately.

 If you acknowledge that you are responsible for the words that leave you mouth, then you can pause before responding and consider how to respond. As an example, suppose your mother/father/sibling said, "you have always been such a baby ,,,," and whatever follows. Here we have an accusation about your maturity. If you are aware that the accuser is coming from his/her past beliefs, and not yours, you have no reason to feel put down by the person. So in their eyes you are immature. It is about them, not you.

 It would take a mighty thick book to record the possibilities around that theme, not to mention thousands of other kinds of remarks make by family members. Your job is to process, in the moment, whether it is about them, or about some buried belief of yours. Either way, it is not real; it is only a trigger for a memory. When you can bring this understanding to your relationships, your life will change dramatically. Long-held resentments will disappear and taking things personally will be a thing of the past.

 What does it take? Practice. You must ferret out those beliefs that sabotage your life and let them go; disown them. There are many ways to do that and you can find some merely by Goggling 'beliefs' or something similar. Byron Katie has an excellent way to start. Go to and check out "the work" near the bottom. Another way is just to write down beliefs that surface and deal with them one at a time.

 However you do it, the sooner you get started, the better you will feel about your life and everyone in it. Inner peace is as close as dealing with beliefs; it is that simple.


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