The objective of this newsletter is to recognize when others are invading your rights, overstepping your boundaries and when you may be invading another person's rights. This helps you understand why you have the right to assert yourself and when and how to do that. When do you draw a line? When are you dealing with abuse? Why don't other people honor your boundaries? You have the right to ask that your rights be considered. You have as much right to your thoughts, dreams, desires, feelings and fulfillment as anyone else. Other words for people who do not honor your boundaries are abuser or narcissist although they do have somewhat different descriptions.
You don’t have the right to be respected. That must be earned. There are some people who will refuse to give you the respect you deserve no matter what you do. You do have the right to be treated with respect. Unfortunately, you may have to make others treat you well. That may require you to assert yourself, to enforce your boundaries.
THREE TYPES OF RELATIONSHIPS
1. FORMAL RELATIONSHIPS - business oriented. They are structured and have unspoken rules in place. You don't tell the clerk at the grocery store all your business. These people can't make you do something against your will.
2. AUTHORITY RELATIONSHIPS - policeman, law, parent/child, boss/employee. The less structured the relationship, the more potential for manipulation. These people have authority to make you do things against your will.
3. EQUALITY RELATIONSHIPS - friends, spouse, adult family. You share intimate feelings and feel safe. You trust each other. Rules are mutually agreed on. It's a give and take, mutually advantageous relationship. There is mutual respect.
Problems usually occur when one person decides how the other person should act, feel or live and tries to impose those thoughts on the other person. This can be a form of abuse and is not uncommon with a narcissist. This includes using unacceptable language in front of the other person when he explains that it is disrespectful to him.
The next step is learning to assert yourself. This means becoming a mature person who takes care of yourself. You don’t' wait for someone else to take care of you. By not asserting yourself, you are contributing to the behavior. If you've been abused, the abuse will continue. Who's going to stop it if you don't. However, if you believe you may be in danger, talk to a professional before doing anything.
Asserting yourself means you are willing to lower the walls of protection around you. This can be scary. Work on it a little at a time. Move slightly out of your comfort zone. As you gain your sense of self appreciation, you will find yourself more willing to assert yourself. You deserve it.
You may not know what remark is legitimate and what is extreme. That will come in time. You will feel something inside you that feels like abuse. It is something that says you don’t deserve to be spoken to or acted upon in this manner. This is how you know where your boundary is in this area. As you become more sure of yourself, you will be able to tell when to say something and when to let it go.
It helps to understand why you feel uncomfortable not asserting yourself.
Everyone has a level of comfort when he feels he can say something about another person’s behavior and when he is uncomfortable saying something. It can be scary. You could loose respect. I personally think you gain respect by speaking up in the proper way unless the relationship is with someone who could hurt you, like your boss. Remember the levels of relationships. There are times when it is a good idea to say something and times to remain silent.
When you begin to assert yourself, you may find others not quite so happy with the new you. You're not reacting the way they expect and it throws them. They don't know what to do about it. They're not getting their way quite so easily. Or they may not realize that something offends you. When you assert yourself, they won’t understand what happened. You will be addressing the problem head on and working things out, not letting it remain unfinished and giving you an ulcer.
If you feel confident and secure in yourself it allows you to be humble. Humility is strength in control. It means you feel good enough about yourself to put your desires second. You do it because you genuinely WANT to, not out of guilt, fear, or a need to please someone else. Pick your fights and make your own decisions. Humility does not mean you ignore disrespectful behavior.
Confronting someone can be very difficult. I was in a situation where I had this internal dialogue going where I kept telling myself that I needed to say something. I kept telling myself that he would not respect me if I didn't say something. It went way too long before I had the courage to address the situation and when I did, everything was fine.
See also PASSIVE, AGGRESSIVE, ASSERTIVE for more information
©LifeSkills International 2014
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