Jane likes her boss, but his off-color jokes make her feel uncomfortable. She knows she needs to confront the problem, but those four words, WE NEED TO TALK, send chills down her spine. Confrontation is not easy for Jane. Her father often ridiculed her whenever she tried to bring up problems. So Jane learned to avoid and keep her feelings to herself. But when she did, the other women in her office accused her of being a doormat.
Behind Jane’s avoidance was a core belief that maybe her father was right. Perhaps she had no right to question her boss’ behavior. Who was she to demand respect? Jane falsely believed that she did not deserve to be treated well. This negative core belief kept Jane silent and anxious.
When our core beliefs are negative, we become defensive or back down from conflict. Problems linger and don’t get solved. In Jane’s case, fear and insecurity kept her from talking to her boss.
In order to better deal with conflict, Jane had to look at the source of her fear and examine her beliefs. Was it true that she wasn’t worthy of respect just because her father told her this? If her identity was built on a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, no one but God should be given the right to define her.
Jane’s thinking had to be challenged and renewed. So Jane wrote down what she believed about herself and others and then challenged those beliefs with truth from God’s word.
I don’t deserve to be loved: I do deserve to be loved. Being loved has nothing to do with deserving. God loves me and doesn’t make me earn his love.
It is unsafe to express my feelings: It is safe to express my feelings, but they may not be well received. Still it is healthy for me to assert myself in this situation.
I am not worthy of respect: Christ says I have value, sees my worth, died for me and calls me one of his. That is how much he thinks of me.
It is important to please others: It is important to please Christ. His word says to go to a brother if I have something against him.
People let me down and cannot be trusted: Most people can be trusted, but I need to discern who they are. I have no reason to distrust my boss.
It’s useless to try and change others: I can influence others toward change.
It’s OK for others to trample over me: It’s not OK because of my value to God.
If you struggle to confront an issue that bothers you, do what Jane did and list your core beliefs. Then, evaluate them in terms of Scripture. Do they line up with God’s Word? If not, renew your mind with God’s truth. God determines your worth, not man.
Once your beliefs are in line with God’s truth, you are more secure in who you are and how you interact with others. This secure base makes you less defensive and more willing to confront problems and stand up for yourself.
Like Jane, you can challenge those beliefs established in childhood or later life. You are not a victim of your past. In Christ, you are a new creation. When Jane confronted the lies, she had the courage to confront her boss. And when she finally did talk to her boss, he downplayed his behavior, but did stop telling off color jokes around Jane. Only after Jane confronted the problem did she get the respect she well deserved. So yes, sometimes we do need to talk!
Dr. Linda Mintle is a national speaker and bestselling author of over fifteen books on relationships and mental health. She is the chair of the Division of Behavioral Health in the Department of Primary Care, at the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Liberty University. She is the host of The Dr. Linda Mintle Show and writes the BeliefNet blog Doing Life Together. She lives in Virginia. You can follow Linda on Twitter @drlindahelps.