The Importance of Confrontation for Highly Sensitive People

by | Jun 26, 2023 | Adulting, Anxiety, Counseling, Highly Sensitive People (HSP), Online Therapy

The Importance of Confrontation as an HSP

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Let’s say you get into an argument with your best friend. You’ve recently grown apart due to your various summer schedules, and you know it’s necessary to have a conversation about making more time for each other. Whether you are feeling hurt or neglected, you might be a little scared to confront your best friend about this difficult topic because you are a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). Maybe you don’t feel comfortable sticking up for yourself, and that’s completely normal! But, what if there were ways to feel more empowered when dealing with conflict?

 Confrontation can mean many things. Whether we are dealing with someone face to face, on the phone, or even through Instagram, people tend to use confrontation to their advantage in order to settle a dispute. But, in order to resolve a disagreement, conflict, or issue, two or more parties must be able to voice their opposing viewpoints [2]. Conflict can arise in a variety of contexts, including intimate partnerships, work environments, and even larger social contexts.

Whenever we hear the word “confrontation,” we tend to associate it with negative things. From hostility to discomfort, or even aggression, a Highly Sensitive Person can have trouble facing the difficulty of sticking up for themself. However, when approached with a positive mindset, confrontation can be a powerful tool for strengthening relationships. It can further promote honesty and can show signs of maturity [1].

 As an HSP, we know the word confrontation can be extremely anxiety-inducing. We tend to internalize others’ feelings—maybe get a little defensive—and even replay unresolved conversations for hours. When dealing with a situation where confrontation might occur, it is important to take a step back and address the problem at hand [3].

First, ask the other person what they are feeling [3]. Maybe your personal feelings clouded your own judgment and you misread the situation completely. It is normal to miss social cues, misinterpret body language, or even simply have some sort of miscommunication. Knowing what the other person you are confronting is feeling, can help you gauge how to go about the situation and how to hopefully ease the conflict between the two of you.

On the other hand, one would also need to recognize whether this particular conflict stems from a toxic relationship [3]. Is it in your best interest to battle it out in a conversation with no end in sight? Try to reevaluate what will serve you the best outcome when deciding to have a tough conversation.

In some cases, especially when identifying yourself as an HSP, you may also classify yourself as someone who is conflict-avoidant. When people tend to avoid conflict, it can actually have damaging effects on one’s health [4]. According to a 2019 research study, scientists found that inhibiting our emotions can negatively affect our mental and physical well-being [5].

A conflict-avoidant person might [4]:

  • Deny that there is a problem
  • Have passive-aggressive tendencies
  • Laugh during arguments
  • Change the subject whenever a dispute arises
  • Refrain from disagreeing with others, even if you internally disagree
  •  People-please

The longer we choose to put off discussing a problem, the bigger the chance for misunderstanding. In general, avoiding confrontation frequently makes you feel far worse than if you had dealt with the problem straight away. Now that we recognize the benefits of confrontation, let’s implement them using these tips! [2]

  1. Show respect
  2. Have a one-on-one conversation
  3. Allow time for the other person to respond to you when you express your feelings
  4. Try to stay on topic
  5. Look for solutions and compromises

Let’s be honest, this is all easier said than done. It is completely normal to be reluctant to bring up a subject in the first place, based on the fear that someone may think less of us [2]. However, when confronted with respect and positive communication within an argument, you will be more likely to solve the problem and therefore understand one another better.

It’s time to use our highly sensitive superpowers to positively solve issues that surround us. By sticking up for ourselves and using our empathic abilities to our advantage, we can grow and earn the respect we already deserve.

To discuss how therapy could help you during this season of your life, please contact me or schedule your free 15 minute consultation.


[1] Deveaux, A.J. “Why Confrontation Is Good.” Medium, 24 May 2019, medium.com/swlh/why-confrontation-is-good-20aa32a69dd1. 


[2] Ventura, Samantha. “The Importance of Confrontation for Interpersonal Relationships.” CEDIA, 1 July 2019.


[3] Wylie, Allison. “How to Deal with Interpersonal Conflict as a Highly Sensitive Person – Sensitive Refuge.” Sensitive Refuge – Your Sensitivity Is Your Greatest Strength., 12 Jan. 2022, highlysensitiverefuge.com/how-to-deal-with-interpersonal-conflict-as-a-highly-sensitive-person/. 


[4] Ferguson, Sian. “How to Not Be Conflict Avoidant.” Psych Central, 15 Sept. 2022, psychcentral.com/blog/why-you-need-to-stop-avoiding-conflict-and-what-to-do-instead. 


[5] Patel, Jainish, and Prittesh Patel. “Consequences of Repression of Emotion: Physical Health, Mental Health and General Well Being.” International Journal of Psychotherapy Practice and Research, vol. 1, no. 3, 2019, pp. 16–21, https://doi.org/10.14302/issn.2574-612x.ijpr-18-2564.

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