Asserting oneself

I get seriously stressed and anxiety ridden if I have to stand up for myself or if I'm invited somewhere and I want to say no. Instead of saying no thank you, most times I will accept just to cancel last minute and the whole time after I accept the invitation I'm focused on how to get out of it. Also, if I have to assert myself at work I find it very difficult. I haven't been an effective parent either as I only want to please and make happy instead of being the man and providing discipline and commanding respect. I do provide unconditional love and financial support but I'm weak and most likely pathetic. Okay there are other good things about me I'm just listing the really bad ones and I know they are really bad. I also just try to please everybody afraid people won't like me and if I say the wrong thing I'm mortified and dwell on it even knowing the person forgot it a second after I said it.

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17 Replies

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  • I understand how you feel. I'm this way with medical appointments. Sure, I'll come I say but then I never do. I get physically ill from the fear of going places and it's been made worse by all the people who think exposure will fix me when really it just means I can't trust them

  • I'm the same way as you with doctors as well

  • I want to start learning how to be more assertive and straightforward without having to be so concerned with everything. I always want people to think I'm nice but being nice hasn't gotten me anywhere. I don't want to be mean but I want to be confident and take control of situations.

  • Maybe what worked for me can work for you? I'm no expert of course, but I realized that I can be mean by trying to seem nice. I realized the RIGHT thing to do isn't always what the person WANTS you to do, because they don't always know what's best. Like maybe a kid wants to run into the road, and he's going to hate you if you stop him. But you have to stop him, no question, because he'll get hurt. So he might like you better if you let him but letting him is still the wrong choice. Other situations are less obvious but still the same. Like if my friend wants me to help her move but I don't want to, it might FEEL like I'm being nice by saying yes, but if I know I'm not coming and she'll be stuck with no help because she thought I was coming, then it's nicer to her if I just say no,

  • That's an interesting way to look at; that ultimately by being nice up front you're actually being mean instead of just dealing with the issue at hand. Great advice violarose

  • It might not work for everyone but for me it did. Sometimes saying no is being nice because now they will ask someone else instead of being disappointed in me.

  • Hi ActionChaz, I think your post could have been written by anyone of us who are anxious. It seems like anxiety ridden people are the nicest people around and that's why we are anxious. As you said, we don't have to be mean but be honest with ourselves in what we can and cannot handle. (That's a hard one) It's difficult because we all want to be liked by everyone and it's not possible. We were given this disorder not by our own choosing. No one understands so we have to understand what we can and cannot do. I was no different than you in always accepting things that I knew I wouldn't be able to follow through on. So until the day of the event, my stomach would be churning and my anxiety level would keep climbing. Enough so that on the day of the event, I truly was physically sick and had to cancel.

    I missed more family events than anyone else in my family, even those who were sick with true medical problems (even Cancer). And yet I didn't show up to a funeral but my cousin went who was in Stage IV of Lung Cancer did. How does that make us look when we have something no one can see and yet we cannot make a commitment?

    As for kids, we tend to spoil children, they walk all over us because our heart breaks if they are sad. We do what feels best at the time only to have it come back at a later date with school or social issues. And yet my parents were strict, loving but strict, and made sure it was instilled in me to behave and not cause them any embarrassment. I remember sitting like a stiff statue of a child whenever we went out. As I got older, I didn't get more independent rather more dependent on my parents because I couldn't think for myself. That shows you there has got to be a middle of the road parenting...

    It wasn't until I went to a class geared towards the up and coming Salesman to teach them to have confidence and assertiveness in themselves. I started to change from this shy introverted person to who I am today. It took some work breaking habits that were so instilled in me. I came to the realization that I didn't have to impress anyone but myself. I became my own person. I liked who I was and lo and behold so did others because I was now comfortable so were the people around me. We are never too old Chaz to change our character after all, other than family, no one really knows you may be shy, introverted or anxious. So you put on this façade every time you step out. You walk with confidence and believe in yourself. Before long, you become that person. You may have started out acting the part but then eventually became the character in that part.

    It's not as difficult as it sounds. If you really want change than we have to go for it. Nothing changes w/o some effort, but so well worth it. :)

  • Hey Agora, u are always a blessing. I read that 2x and going to read it again now before I go to sleep. Thank you for such a thoughtful response; it gave me goosebumps that you went to the trouble to do that. But u always do and ur always here. Thank u friend

  • I could not have read your post at a more opportune time. I am currently feeling the same way as you! So a bit about my own experience with assertiveness, or lack thereof, is that I have a presentation coming up that I am working on with a small group of people. Long story short, we are scrambling for time at the moment because we misunderstood what was expected of us for this particular task. I had a fair bit of the right idea all along but I failed to speak up and voice it! Actually, that's not entirely true. I did suggest a few things to try to get the team on track but it wasn't enough. Maybe they didn't care enough to listen to me or maybe, which I find to be more plausible, I should have tried harder to make them listen to what I had to say? I knew that I was correct all along but I didn't have it in me to make that be known to the others. I spent a fair bit of today dealing with almost-panic attacks. I feel better now (I took some time for self-care; went for a walk, to the gym, and caught up on some TV shows) and after weeks, I finally have a clear mind. (perfect opportunity to write essays like this one :P)

    For me, being assertive is so very tiring because my own thoughts are so overwhelming to listen to. I am not confident in my own intelligence and when my brain decides to take a break from the negative self-talk, I realize that I have absolutely no reason to be!

    The last few sentences of your post also hit home for me! I tend to dwell on the most minute details or awkward bits of conversations I have had with people (that they had probably forgotten as soon as it happened OR didn't even notice, to begin with!). It can go on for hours, days, weeks, months, even years! I think, at least for me, this is because of a lack of socializing or simply talking with other people. I could get on with my day without physically speaking to a single person - despite being surrounded by people! So what I have been doing to help the situation is practicing speaking with people. I set a goal to speak to/carry out a short conversation with at least 2 strangers or acquaintances every day. I'm slowly going to increase the number and try to challenge myself. I have been doing this for 4 weeks and I already see results! I have noticed that even if I say something awkward during the conversation, I quickly recover from it, whereas in the past, I would dwell on it in the moment and makes things more awkward.

    That was long but I hope you are able to find solace in the fact that you are not alone in what you're feeling or experiencing! Thanks for this post :)

  • Thanks Cracked I appreciate you taking the time to share that. It means a lot.

  • Learning to say the word "NO" is going to give you the biggest freedom in the world that you've ever known, and relieve your anxiety a great deal.

    I found it very scary to start to say no, (or no thanks!), unapologetically and without giving 101 reasons 'why' I couldn't do "X" ~ it was so simple, I couldn't believe it! People accept 'no', they understand it, they use that word themselves!

    I started small and found that I wasn't disappointing people any more, and even more importantly, I was being absolutely and totally honest to myself and other people, about how I felt!

    May I suggest that you start using it ~ try it with the kids ~ they may not like it but you'll be starting to be assertive and a disciplinarian ~ then try it with your friends and honestly, they will understand!

    Believe in the 'power of no' ~ it'll change your life! <3

    Blessed Be, Barbara xx

  • LadyBarb, you are so so right. Something as simple as using the word "no". The problem I had was twofold. Either I felt I had to explain why I said no or they seemed to not take my "no" as a decision made by me and would convince me to change my mind. Now, I say "no" and leave it at that. No means No. Why should it be any different coming from an anxious person as to the average Joe on the street?

    I always found that to be a hard one to overcome. xx

  • Makes a lot of sense. Gonna give it a go!

  • Hi Angora! Yes, you have to say 'no' and mean it. No going back. No means "NO". No explanations, no change of mind by persuasion ~ basically giving in to someone else's 'will' when you know that you're going to let them down anyway and then you feel bad about yourself.

    Absolutely agree, 'no' is no different coming from an anxious person, than any Mr/Mrs "Average", however the benefit of an anxious person saying "no" works miracles for the self-esteem of the anxious person, whereas Mr/Mrs Average just takes it for granted that when they say 'no', it a natural response! lol

    The same with the 'bloopers' which seem to get inserted into a conversation from time to time?

    The 'natural' response of Mr/Mrs Average is: "Oh, I wish I hadn't said that ~ can't take it back now anyway" ... and then they 'move on'. They seriously 'move on'. No thinking, re-thinking, over analysing, feeling embarrassed, and basically wanting to go back in time and change what they've said.

    It's not that important! Or to take it to it's sadly accurate conclusion (and I apologise for what I'm going to say) we're not that important in the great scheme of life that what we said wrong, in our personal opinion, will be remembered for eternity ... by anyone but ourselves..!

    It's such a waste of precious time and energy ~ and can severely deepen our anxiety ~ when the all too simple answer is: "Forget it. Move on!". We all make bloopers in conversation ~ and I mean all ~ and not just the 'anxious' people like ourselves.

    Do Mr/Mrs Average worry endlessly about what they've said 'wrong'? No! Do we remember what they've said that was a bit out of context? No! not usually / virtually never.

    But, we get self-absorbed about words which, as has been admitted, no-one's going to be bothered about, approx 10 seconds later.

    In simple Psychology, what we do by NOT forgetting and NOT "moving on", is a crippling form of 'perfectionism' (I have to get everything I say 'right' ... sort of idea.)

    It's also considered to be an inverse matter of 'pride' and even an ingrained feeling of superiority! (Whoever would have thought that, eh? lol)

    What a terrible burden to carry around though. No wonder we get 'anxious' and downright exhausted, and our self-esteem so often lands in the gutter! Perfection isn't achievable ~ no matter what you've been told, or have as a 'belief system' ~ have no doubt about that, please. It's a very important 'fact'. I repeat: "Perfection isn't achievable" ... hard lesson to learn ...

    However, we did learned these stressful behaviours in one manner or another, usually when very young, or when 'growing up' ~ and such ingrained habits from an early age are admittedly very hard to break ~ but not at all impossible.

    Let go and move on from what's currently 'stunting your growth' and become the person you always wanted to be: Confident ~ and not suffering from anxiety which can so easily become a crippling factor in our lives.

    With Love, Barbara xx

  • I totally agree with you LadyBarb. Beautifully explained and something to read over until it is ingrained in our minds. We can change. We will change for our mental and physical well being. Learning from each other on the forum is priceless.

    Thank you so much for sharing. My best xx

  • Thanks Agora ~ for your lovely words. They're much appreciated. :)

    I'd no desire to offend anyone, and sincerely hope that I haven't ~ but I've spoken my truth, and now it's my time to 'forget it' and 'move on' (but not away from you lovely people..!) ~ and hope that I may have helped someone from my own, very personal, 'learning experience'. And 'yes', we can change, I'm the living proof of that, as I'm sure many others are too. xx <3 xx

  • :) xx

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