Friday 27 May 2011

Standing Up For Yourself - Why Bother?

Julia wrote to me following my BLOG article on anger:

Hi Chris,

So true about the anger. I have experienced it a lot lately. I am usually one of the most relaxed, laid back people that I know and I've always been the one to let things pass.

But lately I am full of anger and I usually become defensive. As if I am finally standing up for myself but not sure I am doing it the right way...

I get especially angry with certain people I've know for a long time and I can't stand anymore. I tried to step back and realized that my expectation of them will never become reality because they are who they are... Is it then ok for me distance myself from these people or try to take them as they are?... Then what was the point of standing up for myself in the first place?... Just wondering...

Many thanks,


Here's my reply;

Hello Julia,
If you're not used to it, standing up for yourself can be daunting and acutely uncomfortable, and it's difficult to control. It's easy to go from the extreme of "doormat" to "monster" without realising it. The key is to recognise the difference between aggressiveness and assertiveness.
Anger feeds aggression and comes when you feel abused in some way. But assertiveness is a way to gain control and so anger should not arise. You can say "no" with in a whisper with a smile on your face. No ranting involved. The other thing to note is that it takes a while for the world to understand the new you. They will be unsettled and perhaps fed up with your new you. DISAPPROVAL, or the fear of it, is what usually drives passivity. People feel they have no choice but to comply of face dire consequences (unpopularity or disapproval) and they're usually "nice" people who hate to tarnish their reputation. If that's you, then recognise that (a) being popular need not be the name of your life's game, especially if it's crushing you, and (b) disapproval MAY follow assertiveness, but more commonly, RESPECT is the outcome and a far more healthy relationship with those around you.
Your question about standing back is an interesting one. Well done for recognising that these people are unlikely to come up to your standards. Yes, feel free to distance yourself from them. The point of doing so it to find new friends who come closer to your standards. One of the most significant factors in a person's success is who they choose to surround themselves with. Think of your companions in life as a project for you to engineer=, rather than as an inadvertent outcome of chance.
Good luck with it!
Best Wishes,

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