Caring Enough to Confront / Book Review

Caring Enough to Confront: How to understand and express your deepest feelings toward others by David Augsburger .

The blurb describes the book best:

“Many people try to avoid conflict, but confrontation can be a catalyst for deeper loving care as we learn to integrate our needs and wants with those of others. Dr. David Augsburger believes that deepened relationships bloom out of conflict when we remember that the important issue is not what the conflict is about, but instead how the conflict is handled. Caring Enough to Confront will teach you how to build trust, cope with blame and prejudice, and be honest about anger and frustration. You’ll learn how to confront with compassion in family, church and work relationships to resolve conflict in a healthy and healing way.”

As I did with the other non-fiction book reviews I’ll be picking out the areas I highlighted when I read the book and discussing those points.

“I want to speak personally. Since I can speak only from my experience, I want to say. “I think…,” “I feel…,” “I want…,” instead of “People think…” or “You get the feeling…” To declare my personal feelings and convictions calls for courage. There is no risk in saying “Most people,” “it seems,” ” sometimes feel,” “to some extent.” I will risk; I will reveal my true self; I will be increasingly vulnerable to you by respecting your perceptions equally with my own.”

It’s something I definitely do when I’m having a hard conversation with someone.  I use “lots of people” or “sometimes feel” etc,. It’s a way of distancing myself and keeping myself safe from rejection. If I don’t present them as my opinions then if the person I’m talking to rejects the ideas they aren’t rejecting me. But it does the person i’m talking to a disservice.

“I want to speak honestly. Truthing is trusting others with my actual feelings and viewpoints is often considered kindness, thoughtfulness or generosity. More often it is the most cruel thing I can do to others. It is benevolent lying. Selective honesty is not honesty at all.”

“This is the true meaning of authenticity as a person: that my exterior truly reflects my interior”

This is something that I strive for, that I’ve been trying to achieve. It’s not easy and it’s blooming uncomfortable and people will shove it back in your face or misunderstand you but to feel like you are really you is so awesome.

“Whatever you have to say, let your ‘yes’ be a plain ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ be a plain ‘no'”

It isn’t helpful for anyone to give anything other than simple and clear answers. “Maybe’s” and “sort of’s” don’t help anyone.

“When owning your anger becomes a problem, the first sign to self or others is often the use of the word “it.” “It” is the cause of untold irritation, anger, frustration, embarrassment, pain, guilt and misery. “It” is not me. “It” is this something, or someone, or some situation. When you find yourself using the word “it” as an explanation or as a scapegoat, stop. Listen to yourself. Recognize what you’re doing: avoiding responsibility; sidestepping the real problem; denying ownership of your feelings, responses and actions.”

I had never thought of this before, it’s absolutely fascinating when you look back at conversations where you have become angry and noticed how often you’ve used “it”.

“I am responsible for how I see you – and from that, for the way I feel about you. You cannot make me angry; I choose to be angry. You cannot make me discouraged or disgusted or depressed. These are my choices.”

I choose to be angry. I choose to let someone make me angry. I have the power. That is priceless information to know and believe,

“Confrontation invited another to change but does not demand it. The confronter does not make the continuation of the friendship hang on a change of behaviour in the confrontee. Acceptance of the other person is not connected to agreement or disagreement.”

There’s nothing scarier than when someone confronts you and you aren’t sure whether this is an ultimatum and could be the end of the friendship. It instantly makes you overly emotional and defensive and makes the likelihood of an effective conversation pretty slim.

“the word “but” is a perfect and infallible eraser. The word “but” hits the delete key on the listener’s keyboard. The word “but” signals that what follows is the important part of the message. “And” is the connecting word that brings caring and confronting into “care-fronting” balance.”

This blew my mind.

“If the thought comes to you that everything that you have thought about God is mistaken and that there is no God, do not be dismayed. It happens to many people. But do not think that the source of your unbelief is that there is no God. If you no longer believe in God in whom you believed before, this comes from the fact that there is something wrong with your belief, and you must strive to grasp better than which you call God. When a savage ceases to believe in his wooden God, this does not mean that there is no God, but only that the true God is not made of wood.”

I have quoted this to so many people since reading this. It was originally written by Tolstoy. It puts into words something I found a while ago. You can’t put God in a box but my goodness do we try!


I think this is the kind of book that I will need to read over and over again to fully utilise all the information provided and learn to put it into practise.


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