Monday, 18 July 2011

Call it like you see it

I would say I fall into the peacemaker personality type. I hate conflict and the idea of hurting people's feelings. I also hate the idea that people are thinking bad things about me. But I am slowly accepting the fact that in spite of sounding like that makes me a nice person to be around, it is not so nice to be that person. And probably isn't very good for growing relationships with integrity.

Don't get me wrong. This doesn't mean that I don't mind a good heated debate about an issue. It is more about the stuff that is closer to my heart and the more intimate stuff of friendship such as unmet expectations or things that bother me. Or when I disagree with a friend about something that is important to them.

Through therapy I have been examining why I am so afraid to be different than other people. For me difference feels bad, like the relationship is broken. But trying to be the same or think the same just means I mould myself around what fits with the other person. When I come away from the situation I am often really frustrated because I don't feel like the other person really knows me and I feel in conflict with myself. At its worst, I feel like I have lied and pretended to be something I am not, sometimes even feeling like I lied. Even though I my have avoided 'conflict' I have not been myself. I don't think the friendship would be that satisfying for the other person either.

Because eventually there has to be a coming out. When the person you really are will reveal itself and someone gets a shock. Whether it is me realising that I have backed myself into a corner by trying to be the perfect fit for a friend and then find I just can't be that anymore. Or when I don't meet someone's expectations because I just am not what they had begun to expect.

I am certainly not advocating saying what you think about everything and anything without consideration for the feelings of others. More that when a situation occurs why can't I have the courage to respectfully disagree or at least, choose not to just go along with it in my head, convincing myself that I think that too? And sometimes I think I should say something. I mean, if I have a certain conviction then why isn't my opinion as valid as someone else? I certainly am on the end of some pretty frank and sometimes brutal words about my life and even though it is not always appreciated, I often learn something through it. Even if it would be better to just let it slide off me.

I have started trying to accept myself more and that includes accepting that I don't necessarily feel the same as my friends about all sorts of things. That doesn't mean it has to cause friction. Hopefully we are all mature enough to deal with difference (that is actually directed at me). I am also beginning to believe that if it does cause conflict then maybe that friendship isn't one that can last. Life is complex and we all have different perspectives and experiences which lead us to hold our beliefs. If those beliefs are so different that the tension is painful then maybe it is better to just accept it and let the friendship go. Better that than to deny the conflict and one or both people play a game or put on an act to make the apparent friendship work. And don't we all want friendships when we can be our true selves and experience love and acceptance anyway?

The people I tend to struggle around seem to have particular personality types or ways of relating. It seems to catapult me backwards into really unhealthy ways of relating. I hope in time I can be self aware enough not to be affected so much. But I also think you can't be friends with everyone and you aren't supposed to. So hopefully I can be wiser in who I choose to relate to in future. Friendship is such a blessing and can be wonderful, but it can also be a stage to repeatedly play out your worst self over and over again.

Okay that was pretty honest. And you are not one of those people who spin me out. Well I can't guarantee it but if you get what I am talking about then it is pretty unlikely :)

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