Two weeks ago I shared a question I received from a reader, and gave you “Part 1” of my response. The question was about how to handle it when you stand up for yourself and get a lot of pushback from others trying to make you feel guilty about it.
Here’s “Part 2” of my recommendations for handling this tricky, stressful situation.
ANSWER to READER QUESTION #1 – Part 2
When you take a stand on something and get a “you’re being selfish!” reaction from others, follow these steps:
- STOP! BREATHE! and FOCUS!
- Take a step back (literally if that feels right to you in the moment!)
- When you’re ready, say: “I hear your reaction.” (Emphasize the word “reaction.”) “But right now I am talking about me.”
*** Always remember, it is OK for you to talk about your needs and feelings! Your needs and feelings DO MATTER, even if others want to dismiss them, ignore them, or disagree with them. ***
- Next say: “When I’m done, then I’ll be willing to hear about your feelings. Right now it’s my turn. Are you willing to listen and hear me?” This part is very important, because if your desired outcome is to speak and be heard, you want the other person’s explicit agreement that they are willing to listen.
If they say “No,” then – as hard as it will be – don’t push your issue in that moment. Just calmly let them know that you’ll be happy to discuss this issue further when they’re ready to listen. Thank them for being honest about not being ready to listen, and then stop talking! Then, assuming you are able to, leave the situation – simply walk away.
Take a deep breath, and notice how you feel. Are you tense, stressed, angry, frustrated, anxious, scared? Or maybe…even a little relieved? Even if you feel nervous, you may also notice some relief because you spoke up this time, instead of falling into old patterns. Just sit with your feelings; don’t react or act on them right away.
This is a turning point, because you are now behaving differently than anyone expects. Now you, too, have to tolerate and deal with your discomfort at this new experience of holding your ground. Know that it will not go away by falling back into your old pattern of “folding” – the only thing that would accomplish is to make all your old feelings of frustration, guilt and insecurity re-emerge. This is NOT your desired outcome!
The change process requires facing and working through your feelings. If the tension becomes really high for you, then I strongly recommend any or all of the following:
- Writing down what you’re feeling (what I call a “brain dump”)
- Calling a good friend for support and understanding
- Taking a walk to put yourself in a different environment
- Doing some exercises to help release feelings that are boiling up inside you
Above all, be patient with yourself! This is a new and different response for you, and does require practice. Trust me, once you make the commitment to make this change in your life, he universe (in the guise of family, friends and colleagues) will provide many opportunities (your “pop quizzes”) to practice these new attitudes and behaviors.…And we breathe!
What if the person you’re talking to says he or she is ready to hear you?
Now your challenge is to stay true to your feelings, needs and whatever your desired outcome is. Use “I” statements, and talk ONLY about yourself. If you need to refer to their behavior in describing the situation that caused your feelings to come up, keep it to “just the facts, Ma’am!” Describe their actions, but don’t attempt to guess at their reasons, feelings or motivations – that’s not your call to make, and you could be completely wrong, making things worse instead of better.
Make sure you stay clear and focused. This may mean taking slow deep breaths, and reminding yourself what issue it is you want to clarify, resolve or express.
When you feel you’ve made your points, stop talking and just breathe. It’s OK to let there be silence. Give yourself credit for speaking up, and trust that you can handle and cope with the outcome, whatever it is. The person you’re talking to may not like what you have to say, and that’s all right. It’s not about agreeing, it’s about them accepting and respecting your needs and feelings.
Always remember to STOP! BREATHE! & FOCUS! This will help you to clear your mind, get centered, and focus on what you feel, and what your desired outcome is. This process takes practice, so please be patient and gentle with yourself, as you learn to stand up to the messages that undermine you, and persevere… you are worth taking care of you. Who you are is enough, and your needs and feelings do matter!
For additional,one-on-one support:
Please feel free to email me at Loren@LorenGelbergGoff.com with your challenges, questions or concerns. I’ll do my best to address them in the coming weeks.
I thank you for allowing me to be part of your journey to live your life empowered and fulfilled!