“Tell them what you really think. Otherwise, nothing will change.”
This is one of those 'easier-said-than-done' things...well, at least for someone like me who has self-assertion issues. Though I've actually improved somehow, especially in the past year, I would have to admit that I probably would still avoid any sort of confrontation if I had some way out. My normal tendencies are to either find someone else to speak up for me, or find some indirect, subtle way of expressing how I feel to the person concerned. If both are not available to me, then I'm left to fester with those negative thoughts and feelings. I'd have to admit that most of the time, I'm left with those negative feelings....fester, fester, fester.
In situations where our boundaries are crossed, in some way or another, we choose silence over self-assertion mainly because of fear. We fear that speaking up will strain a valued relationship. We fear that our feelings are not valid. We fear embarrassment. We fear attention. We fear the possibility of aggression from the other person. We fear isolation.
But could it also be that our greatest fear is to discover how strong we are? And in discovering that strength, we fear rejection from others for daring to show ourselves in all our glory, with all that we're truly made of? When we don't speak out and make our boundaries known, little by little we undermine ourselves. Slowly but surely, we strip ourselves of power and allow others to ignore our spirit. And believe me when I say that is probably the worst self-inflicted pain there is. I have been to a place where I've felt utterly powerless and insignificant and it certainly bred an insidious illness. Feeling like you don't matter, or what you think and have to say do not matter, can drive you to the depths of hopelessness and depression. And once you realize how much all this is weighing you down, the only way to truly save yourself (and only YOU can save your self) is to find your voice. As you learn to use that voice, hope will slowly re-appear, for you will see with such clarity that you have choices, you have power, and you have every right as everybody else to be heard and respected. Through the boundaries you establish, you show the world who you are, what you are about, what you will take and what you reject.
Those who don't respect others' boundaries are not evil people...at least not all the time. Sometimes, they just don't have a sense of such boundaries, while other times, they just never thought those things mattered to some people. Whatever their reasons are, the fact is that boundaries get crossed because someone allows it to happen. Therefore, it is our responsibility to have our selves show up, speak up and draw the line. Again, easier said than done but it's always good to be at least reminded. Maybe someday soon, I'll be brave every single time someone crosses the line and violates my sense of self.
For now, allow me to just be selectively assertive while waiting for that day to come. For now, an interesting list would have to suffice. Here are a few things I would love to say to a few individuals (personally known or unknown) but still can't, for lack of some needed assertive muscles....
If you're in such a hurry and don't mind either (or both) getting pulled over by a cop or risking your life, then by all means, speed up and pass me up. But for the love of God, quit riding my butt!!!
I love you. But when you fail to check the time before calling and you end up calling at past 10 p.m. and it's nothing I can force to fall into my 'emergency' category, you have to agree that it's annoying. Would you kindly glance at your clock before grabbing that phone at night?
I think it's not cool to brag about the fact that the cashier at the store mistakenly gave you extra change, and a huge one at that, and you did not return the money. You should have enough empathy for that cashier and think of your negative karma as well. So not cool...
We're not friends and we're most definitely not family. So when I talk about my concerns about pregnancy and reproduction, I would appreciate that you not add to my stress by not giving me unsolicited advice and stories of failed pregnancies and some other horrific statistics that go against me. You don't know me. I don't know you. Please don't give me any more reason to not want to know you even more.
Feel free to spew a few statements to people who have crossed your boundaries but whom you never managed to confront. Who knows? Maybe some rehearsal through the comments section will do you good!