I used to do anything for a quiet life in my unhappy first marriage. It was easier than facing bad moods, sulking, the stress and anxiety that comes from the silent treatment. When I got a few years further down the line and was living alone, I would still do anything for a quiet life. However, a few months of being free showed me that if I didn’t change this, I was going to be walked on for the rest of my life.
I had to get assertive.
I found that not everyone liked it. You see, when you change, it makes some people uncomfortable. Even now, standing up for myself can make people have strange reactions, but I’ve realised it’s their problem, not mine.
So, how about you? Did you cave in for a quiet life, and because it was easier? Are you finding that you still have a habit of deferring to others before you make a decision, or that you’re standing back (sometimes physically standing back) to let others through?
Here’s a good test of whether or not you’re doing this.
Imagine you’re in the supermarket, and there’s someone huffing and puffing because you’re standing where they want to be at the shelves. Do you stand your ground and finish choosing your product, or do you step aside and mumble “sorry.”? If it’s the latter, I’m fairly sure this leaves you feeling pretty hard done by.
Standing your ground, and standing up for you is so empowering; I’m not suggesting rudeness or bloody mindedness, but it feels great to put yourself first now and again, and not go for the quiet life. You don’t have to continually pacify someone else, dance attendance to their whims and try to please them (you remember how you could never get that right, don’t you?).
I find being concise and specific is very useful in situations where I need to stand up for myself and make my own choices.
1. Ask for/state what you want concisely.
2. Be specific about when you want it.
3. Don’t embellish or over explain.
This works everywhere, from the supermarket (“Excuse me please, can I squeeze past just for a moment to get……. thank you.”) to changing the companies you do business with, or negotiations with friends/partners over what you’re going to do that weekend. This approach isn’t aggressive, it considers others, and you don’t get locked into the miserable spiral of having to defend what you want, and feeling like someone else is playing puppet master with you.
We spend far too much time worrying about how we come across to other people when we are assertive, worrying that they won’t like us; this thought has been put into your head by someone who had the audacity to tell you that you weren’t as likable when you weren’t well behaved. So; it’s time to ditch that thought. No one else lives your life for you, and until they do, your decisions are yours, and if they don’t like you for standing up for yourself; it’s their loss.
Paula Jones, owner of Sugarbox Coaching
You can find out more about Paula over on the About page