I grew up with just enough abuse to learn how to avoid difficult conversations.
When I was a kid, difficult conversations were also the threat of violence. My mother drank, and a couple of my sisters had tempers to keep up their defences. My dad was quiet.
I learned to be quiet too. Avoiding confrontation was so much safer than the alternative. Not just for me, but everyone involved. When one or more people in a family have violent tempers, everyone pays the price.
These days, I don’t have many associations with people who have addictions or temper tantrums. I’m learning to cultivate healthy relationships. One of the keys to this is simply being choosy with who I’m willing to have relationships with. I have hundreds of clients, and a small handful of close friends I refer to as my chosen family.
Within my inner circle of family and friends, there is another critical element to growing healthy relationships; honesty. I don’t mean the type of honesty where you avoid lying, or answering easy questions with accurate answers. There is another level of honesty, being forthright. It requires bravery, and bravery can only be forged in the heat of fear.
It’s the polar opposite of avoidance; actively seeking difficult conversations in the pursuit of authenticity.
When you’re raised with violence, any confrontation seems dangerous. I don’t want to see anyone get hit. Even with words.
But, I’ve learned that breakthroughs rarely happen through avoidance. Avoiding my authenticity, failing to express my own needs, second guessing what someone else’s needs are; all the same as lying in my book.
I have a tough conversation with my adult son coming up this afternoon.
I’ll go in with no expectations. I’ll go in with the only intentions being curiosity, and authenticity.
Since I don’t know what to expect, I’ll just have to trust that whatever happens is better than avoidance. At least with the braver choice, there’s room for possibilities. Avoidance only leads to decay.
Here I go…
Always worth it.