Is it me?
I have gotten so much better at asking myself this when conflict arises in my life. And thank God because I’ve learned that my ability to grow and be the person I want to be relies on my willingness to honestly analyze my own behaviors and tendencies.
I wasn’t very good at it when I was younger. Too often, especially in my early 20s, I was just impatience with a side of an Italian temper, and when something happened, even if I was in the right, I wouldn’t pause and reflect before responding. I would just react, and typically I would overreact, which would not allow for me to express myself in a way that people could hear or respect.
Recently, in two professional conflicts I’ve been involved with I have noticed similarities and any time an issue occurs more than once I now realize that I need to take a step back and analyze the common denominator in the equation…me.
We all need to do this. If you keep finding yourself in the same circumstances you have to ask yourself why the same person, YOU, keeps having these things come up. The fool will not take any responsibility, in fact they may just always determine they are the victim. That is a dangerous place to be. Yes, shitty things happen and of course there are victims of crime and injustice but what I am talking about are those more common conflicts that arise between you and co-workers, friends, family, etc.
For me, these two professional conflicts both tie back to my assertive personality and my unwillingness to live in the status quo. So when I took a step back and analyzed if that part of my personality needs to change in the professional setting I realized two things: 1) I not am willing to change that foundational piece of what makes me who I am BUT 2) I must acknowledge and continue to work on how I deliver my message so I remain assertive but not aggressive.
Listen, I fully understand that a personality like mine can be off putting to some, I understand that particularly a woman who is assertive tends to be viewed and treated differently, but that is not part of the equation I am willing to change. I will not change it for the comfort of others. Period. BUT what I do have to understand is that not everyone will react well to it, right or wrong. I also have to understand that I am not the victim of their reactions. I have to go in to a situation where I will not back down and know conflict can arise. AND I also need to always work on how I convey this part of my personality. Growth and my ability to use my assertiveness for my benefit relies on my delivery and not allowing that to overshadow my message.
Are you surprised by that response? You shouldn’t be because self-reflection IS NOT always about changing who you are. More commonly it is about understanding who you are and how you want to present yourself the world around you. Self-reflection can lead to change but it can also lead to different strategies or learning how to approach things differently while not losing who you are at the core. Just because this portion of my personality will remain unchanged doesn’t mean that I won’t continue to analyze conflict within in my life. I cannot become a better person if I am not willing to put the microscope on myself and my actions. I think the problem is that too many people are not doing this. We do ourselves a major disservice when we decide we are always the ‘victim’ instead of the potential perpetrated of the problem.
I can only control the things that I do and my response to conflicts that arise, and I must continue to reflect and grow or I am wasting my time and my gifts. So is it me? Of course it is. The key is to learn how to both reflect on your actions but also evolve as needed along the way. In the end, we will have to determine how we want to grow from conflict, what things we need to improve on, and ultimately understand what things are a part of our foundational being, because those are things we will learn we cannot change for anyone.