The Necessity of Radical Confrontation
Buckle up. We’re going for a ride.
You’re walking up a hill. It’s a big hill, and it will probably take you about 12–16 hours to reach the top. You are carrying a bucket. You can’t put down the bucket, or even rest the bucket on the ground, just on yourself. You can switch your grips, switch hands, and how you carry it, but you can’t put the bucket down.
Now, I’m curious, how does this make you feel?
In this, we never discussed the size of the bucket, or what was in your bucket, if anything. But where did your mind go? How big was your bucket? What was in your bucket?
The truth is, we’re awake for close to 16 hours a day, and each day we climb a hill. Our bucket is our life, and the contents of the bucket are what we carry with us each and every day. Now before we continue, I want to ask you to do something.
Take a minute, place your phone or screen down, and think about the contents of your bucket, and what doesn’t belong in there.
[breathe in. breathe out. breathe in. breathe out]
I want to introduce something that I’m calling radical confrontation. It makes me uncomfortable, but I’m so thankful for radical confrontation.
Confrontation is academically defined as a face-to-face meeting, the clashing of forces or ideas, and seems to have this hostile attachment. Well, I don’t really like that so we’re going to redefine some things here. Let’s define radical confrontation as the agreement with ourselves that we will evaluate the actions of our life with a degree of analysis as to how it impacts our happiness and health. Expanded, this includes the health of our body, our mind, our relationships, our life.
We can begin radically confronting things with questions such as:
How am I feeling today?
How did I sleep?
Am I excited about what I am doing today?
And from here we can nestle in deeper with ourselves:
Why, at 3:15 pm each day, do I feel very sluggish in my limbs?
What am I looking for when I scroll for 30 minutes before bed on Instagram?
Why am I never excited for Monday and have anxiety on Sunday evenings?
The goal of radically confronting ourselves is to identify the actions, the choices we are making that harm ourselves. Through honest responses, we are identifying where we may be out of alignment, where we need to slow down, or where we should focus and give ourselves the opportunity. Consider this permission to make some changes.
For myself, I continued to answer these questions without acting. I depended on caffeine to give me energy, I sought confidence from others in person or by constantly refreshing my Instagram feed after a new post, I congratulated myself for working the most hours in a week. All actions that were negatively impacting my overall happiness and health. Then I started confronting myself, radically.
I placed a value on sleep. I set a strict bedtime. I set my phone to airplane mode when I slept. I became disciplined with a meditation schedule. I re-introduced a plant-based diet. I removed alcohol. I reduced how often I was going out. I adjusted my work-life relationship. Little by little, I became obsessed with evaluating how I was feeling, constantly. I even had to confront this obsession. What this delivered was what felt like a superpower within myself, a clarity I had never experienced before. With fewer vices to turn to, or rugs to sweep shit under, confronting things became the norm and I became whole.
That was my experience. An experience I am still very much in. Just today I confronted my body and asked it, where is this headache coming from? The answer was dehydration, improper sleep and wearing long pants and a long-sleeved shirt in 96-degree weather. Some answers are more simple than others. But as I wrote at the beginning, it was an extremely uncomfortable ride, but I needed to do it.
When you live embracing confrontation, you feel more, you hear more, you see more. You feel pain, you feel joy, you hear beautiful truths, you hear harmful remarks, you see the world, you see the world. And you remember the path to each.
I encourage you to try this out.
In your relationships, confront something before it festers. At work, confront decisions being made you disagree with. With yourself, confront what is impacting your happiness and health. And do so entirely with respect, leading with kindness.
I must also add that we should confront those really amazing moments too. We should recognize them, capture them, celebrate them and remember how we got to them.
Don’t you dare look away. You’re ready.
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