From doormat to assertiveness

Are you sick and tired of feeling taken advantage of, unable to say no and put your foot down?
Join the club. It’s one thing to read up on boundaries and be aware of them, but quite another to tell someone that you don’t want to play their game. Are people born with a backbone, or can you grow your own set of balls over time?

You teach people how to treat you“ – Dr Phil

Easier said than done! Nobody wants to overdo it and end up mean and without friends.
I constantly find myself asking other people for advice, checking what the general consensus on the topic of person is before I can make my move. Lately I’ve been trying to ask myself: What’s the worst case scenario? What would I do then? Whatever it is, I would be fine.

A helpful graph on boundaries by Marta Kagan

What I found helpful with my unhealthy boundaries was practicing saying no. I stayed calm, listened and watched out for guilt tripping. Still, I found myself over explaining my reasons and laughing at jokes pointed towards me. Sometimes it feels like my smile has been glued on; an ever active defence mechanism.

“It’s easy to think that people will like you more if you do whatever they tell you to do, but it’s quite the opposite.
People don’t appreciate pushovers – they use them.” – Osayi Osar-Emokpae

Being a pushover comes with its benefits. It’s nice to feel useful and needed, and tricky to give this up. Being a caretaker comes with its own health risks. Also, it’s easy thinking you’re an empath and then gradually shifting into being codependent to give yourself value.
I’ve scavenged through advice blogs galore and came up with these tips so you don’t have to:

  1. Stop complaining, start doing
    I can spent eternity lamenting about how mean people are being to feel validated. Instead, I should get up and leave. If I can’t, I try and do what’s required (eg. a work project) to get them off my back. Proactivity will always beat wishing it was different. Don’t think about it too much, rip the bandaid off!

2. Surround yourself with cheerleaders
If your loved one’s don’t support your ideas or dreams, of course you won’t either! We are the cumulative energy of the 5 people we spend the most time with. If we find ourselves listening to other people’s problems and feel shut down immediately, maybe it’s time to leave them to their own devices.

3. Your actions under a microscope
Why are we doing what we don’t want to be doing? Are we secretly trying to get something out of it, like impressing others? We cannot change others but we certainly can change ourselves. First however, we have to be aware of our motives!

There is always a gift in any challenge.” – Bronnie Ware

The truth is: the more you worry, the less you are going to do about it.
If a situation upsets you, go and change it. Nobody can live your life for you, and you don’t want to grow old regretting not standing up for yourself. Ask what this situation is trying to teach you so you can avoid it next time. Distance yourself from the scenario as if it was happening to someone else to de-catastrophise it. And above all: believe in yourself!

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