Fear of Confrontation

August 6, 2009

I attend an early morning group a few times each week with others who share my desire to not drink alcohol. We meet in a beautiful, old mansion that has been used for the last few decades by the local Unitarian Church. We rent a beautiful room from them for our meetings and they also allow us to use their very ample parking lot.

For the past few weeks there has been a car parked on the street outside the building and in order to pass it to get to the parking lot one has to go into the oncoming traffic lane. Now, admittedly, this is not a heavily used road but this car does present the potential for an accident. I have known whose car this is and I have been incensed that the owner could be so inconsiderate. I have also assumed that this person was avoiding the gravel parking lot in order not to have her shoes damaged while walking from the lot to the meeting.

I have been wanting to say something to her but I was afraid that I might look foolish confronting such a trifling problem but every time I saw that car I got a bit hotter. One of my father’s favorite lines was; “we’ll have no privileged characters in this house” as he was castigating one of us about some item of behavior he didn’t like. So I pretty naturally get my dander up when I see someone acting like a “privileged character” even though I’m sure I violate the rule often.

This morning as I was walking from the parking lot to the meeting the parker was coming from her car and I said; so you’re the one whose car forces me to go into the oncoming lane when I come here (not admitting that I have known all along whose car it is). She said; “I don’t want to ruin my shoes” and I could feel my anger rising to the point that I went mute. She than said, sarcastically, “good morning sunshine” and I don’t think I replied.

That mute thing happens often when I’m in a verbal confrontation. I say that I’m afraid that I’ll get too aggressive and that’s partially true but my real fear is that I might lose the argument and look foolish. Feeling that I might look foolish is terrifying for me. It brings up all my shame issues and I feel like that shy, overweight little guy who thought he was a coward. I know now that he was wrong but every now and then I cause a situation like this morning and I’m 9 years old again and looking for a place to hide.

There is a spiritual axiom that says; “When I am disturbed, no matter the reason, there is something wrong with me”.

Posted August 6, 2009


Our Buddhas show up in myriad forms, offering us the opportunity to look at our shadow side…to see what we see about our Self that might need some “work”…the spiritual axiom you quote is apt for all of us…as our discomfort, our reactivity is never about someone or something “out there.” The “stimulus” for reactivity might be “out there,” but the “cause” is always inside.

I applaud your vulnerability in admitting your fear of looking foolish and seeing the 9-year old in the adult body, wearing adult clothes…for me, your admission alone communicates a conscious and healthy sense of self…allowing your truth and not needing to hide in revealing it…refreshing and thank you

Fantastic posting, You make good points in a concise and pertinent fashion, I will read more of your stuff, thank you for your time.

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