On Becoming Assertive (Or learning to set boundaries) Pt. 1

Being assertive.

Speaking your mind.

Standing up for yourself.

Keeping it real.

Confronting an issue.

Setting boundaries.

All words/phrases that make fearful people cringe, cause their stomachs churn, and break them out in a cold sweat.

At one time/several times (in the not-so-distant past), these same words/phrases caused me much alarm, frustration and fear. I didn’t want to gather the courage (read: balls) I needed to be myself, to let people know that “I was NOT the one…” Other people in my life could do it. Heck, my siblings were better at asserting themselves than I was, and I am the oldest out of them all. Many times they asserted themselves towards me and I did not have a comeback. I didn’t know HOW to come back, to set them straight when I felt they were out of line in something they said, or in the way they said it. So you can imagine the frustration and pent-up anger that was roiling inside me. I was passive with family, co-workers, and strangers. And you know as long as you act passive/weak, people will take advantage of you, whether they’re trying to be mean or not. I wouldn’t speak up when someone made a comment that hurt me. I’d let it fester…mind you, I was a Christian (saved, born-again) all this time. I KNEW God created me to be a bold soul, I knew He created me to speak my mind, to be a mouthpiece against evil. I had wonderful people in my life that told me the hard truth about my need to stand up for myself. I knew they were right. KNEW it. I was just terrified of doing what I knew needed to be done. I had boundaries (in my head), but I was afraid to voice my irritations when people violated my boundaries. They didn’t know what my boundaries were, because I didn’t make them clear. So, for years, I allowed myself to be walked on, to be a doormat. I had periods where I’d be tough/outspoken for a little while, but afterwhile I’d go back to being my old self.

I was miserable. Absolutely miserable. And bitter and hateful and scared and PROUD (not in a good way). I was trying to be an adult, but there were some situations in which I felt family members were trying to boss me around, telling me what I needed to do, how I needed to feel…I was afraid to let them know that I didn’t need their opinions, only their prayers.

That was tough. I questioned myself on many occasions…were my feelings and opinions valid? Was I making too big of a deal about something? Yeah, that’s what it was. I was just making a big deal of it. Yep. (That’s what I told myself, knowing the whole time my throat was tight with unspoken words, nerves were frayed, my head was pounding from a stress headache).

Life lesson: You can continue to sweep issue after issue under the rug, but you can’t ignore the big lump under the rug after a while.

To be continued…


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