Anxiety Support
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Non-assertiveness - a BIG problem! :(

I'm the youngest ("the baby") of a big family of mainly girls, and, despite being in my 60s, still find myself being treated as such by my "big sisters". I was brought up not to stand up for myself, being "put-down" quite a bit; I still am, then get furious afterwards :(

I've done assertiveness training, but it was very much "theory" with no chance to practise - bit like passing the driving theory test, it doesn't help when you're actually trying to drive the damn car! ;)

A couple of examples very recently. One of my "big sisters" rang me Christmas Day - convo went okay, then I said something about "Well, if X happens, I've got a back-up plan, and i'll just do Y and have a sherry whilst it's cooking." "Not too much sherry!" admonishes Big Sister - I hardly ever drink and even then very little - i am NOT an alcoholic!!!

Then, we got talking about the play "Warhorse" - I'd seen the film, but said i would love to see the stage play. We agreed that it was a) booked up ages in advance and b) very expensive, and i mentioned, ironically, that the Queen loved it, and that she obviously had NO trouble getting tickets. Big Sister immediately "went into one" - well, she's the Queen, she deserves something, what are you going to do, put her in a one-bedroom council flat and just wheel her out on State occasions!" Now, I don't want to get into a monarchist-republican debate - I'm generally in favour of the monarchy (I think the Queen does a very good job, and I also think she and her family are very well paid for it ;) ) - BUT - why couldn't I

a) Point out to her that telling a 63 year old how much sherry she can drink is offensive and patronising;

b) Tell her that accusing me of wanting to kick the Queen out of Buck House, because of an off the cuff remark about privilege, was TOTALLY OTT and unjustified!!

I know these are small matters in the great scheme of things, but they ARE symptomatic; I think of wonderful retorts afterwards, but never at the time, then "mull" over it for days! Whilst it's worst with my "Big Sisters", it does flow over into other areas - and, if I'm honest, didn't do my career any good either.

Frankly, and forgive the language, I'm totally p@ssed off with being disrespected, patronised - AND even more, with myself for letting it happen :(

Any advice?

Many thanks.

Love and Happy New Year to come



14 Replies

Sounds as though your lovely sister suffers from..................... "I am right, cleverer than you, I know better and I like to tell everybody" syndrome...........ha ha ...

Bet she would die if she read

Well rose I know that its upsetting to be dictated to , as the above "sydrome" indicates that your sister has the problem--not you...

It hit the mark, as i,ve got a family member just like your sister..pour souls

thanks for the and best wishes....(happy new year)..xx


Hmmm must all be related ! stde you have just made me splutter my cup of tea everywhere! Have as many sherry's as you want Rose and if I could afford it I would take you to the best balcony for Warhorse! Reminds me of when I was really worried about having no money for bills etc food ,general living.....and my sister said " You don't need money have God and your family.........I think I may have shared this before, but it slaps me anew every time I think of it. I then proceed to cut of my nose to spite my face by refusing any help at all !!. I am trying to make you laugh here .......A good one from my Mother too...Doctors couldn't find my prescription, chemist couldn't either... I figured out where it was....mother said " makes me wonder who the simple one is here?" with the straightest face imaginable!!!!

Stde you are correct as usual THEY ARE THE ONES WITH THE RUDE PROBLEM!

Rose you have my sympathy, I love you! x Ella x


Wonder if its something about been the youngest , but maybe not

I am also the youngest & had a life time of my father and sister looking down on me , making comments that just put me down all the time , christmas eve I had made mince pies , everyone loved them , then it came to my Dad , well of course he had to say they were nice through greeted teeth , but he finished of with saying "but I think they shouild have been cooked more " only person that did though & then when I said well I am not suprised you found something wrong , he told me I always had to be funny , followed by putting the phone down

What upset me even more I have something wrong with my arm that left me in so much pain after making them !

I am 50 & still get spoken to like I am an idiot , i think at times it is may be they see they can get away with it or they have the problem that they cannot see we are mature adults & they live in the past or is it there insecurities ? all these things have crossed my mind over the years , till now I have given up with them , if i need to , i will now speak up for myself & the rest of the time I concerntrate on the people in my life that do speak & treat me well & as hard as it is I have to remember I will never change my family , but I can work on me and not let them bother me

Thats not always easy I no , but it does get better & when they push my buttons now , i talk to someone , get it out my system , sometimes even have a little cry & maybe hurt for a couple of days , & then I let it go , i have accepted to expect nothing different from them , that way they never let me down !

I always say anyone that is secure in there selfs wouldnt try & put me down & I try & feel sorry for them , as they have the problem not me , & they dont even no it !

You are not on your own with this , keep strong



Well said WhyWhy, must be more common than I thought!!! family confusing General Anxiety Disorder with stupidity! LOL x Ella x


Hi. Rose. There is, psychologically, a thing called 'projection'. This is where somebody with a problem projects that problem on to you and you finish up (more so if you are vulnerable) thinking it is your problem or your fault. People say, "But you do not understand me", when all the time you understand them only too well! You then finish up feeling guilty because, in the back of your mind, you feel they may be right. Youngsters play on parents in this way. The laying on of guilt can be a powerful tool to get your own way. Some people use this weapon to great advantage. They seem to put out feelers and find out who is vulnerable then go to work on that person. Relatives are not immune to this either. Sufferers from 'nerves' are particularly at risk as we are 'easy touches' as far as guilt is concerned. If we don't already feel guilty 'they' will make sure we do. Be on your guard when dealing with situations that can cause guilt to arise. 'Watchful' is the word we need to protect ourselves. You have enough problems of your own to deal with without someone else laying guilt on you. Love. jonathan.


Dear Rose

At least on here we do not disrespect you. You are a valued lovely person on here. You are you and you have respect for your sisters not to say anything back that is out of terms.

Bless ya. I have told you before my Mum has a sister who seems to think she is above us all. Find it all a bit of a show. The way she talks, the way her family are so perfect. Nah thanks my family beats them anyday. We are who we are and at least there is no falseness going on.

You carrying on being you.

Love Lou. xxx


Why do we always have to be, or appear to be, better than the other person? We talked of humility the other day and I realise now what a difficult concept this is to grasp. It means reconciling yourself to whatever comes. Taking people as they come too. Not being up tight and angry if someone puts you down. Weathering emotional storms with dignity. Above all, being yourself without any hint of being different from the next person, or superior in some way. None of these explanations really sums it up because it is more than words can express. There is a story of the man who, his wife said, was 'something in the City'. He went off to work each day with his bowler hat, pin- stripped suit and briefcase and came home each evening the same. Someone he knew, while in the City, had to go to the loo and there he was; a lavatory attendant. One deflated balloon. But why did he do it? What is so wrong about being a lavatory attendant. Someone has to do it. "Nowt so funny as folk", as they say up North. jonathan.


I know where your`e coming from because although I have no brothers or sisters, I was the only child of domineering parents & my mother was quite over protective. I remember one Christmas when i was 25 years old, & I was enjoying some chocolate, & my mother butted in, lecturing me not to eat too much or I`d be sick, like I was too stupid to know when to stop eating, & besides I have a strong stomach, & it would take a lot more than a few chocolates to make me sick! I got annoyed & my father started on me as well. I was annoyed for the rest of my stay, & when I got back home I decided to restrict contact with my parents after that. I eventually became estranged from them because I just couldn`t handle the way they seemed to see me as a child, & a stupid one at that. Sometimes the only way to preserve one`s sanity is to break of contact.


Apparently it's not just family we have these probs with, Rose. Yesterday I agreed to go out with friends for a catch up and see a film. Huge effort on my part as it involved long drive on major rd, big crowds in lrg shopping centre, etc. But I wanted to be sociable and I wanted to see the film. When we get there one girl decides she can't be bothered to see film just wants to shop!!!! So instead I traipsed round loads of shops I didn't fit into - well to be fair I fit in the shops just not the clothes!!! Seethed quietly and came home with nothing but a splitting headache. Woke up this morning really annoyed I didn't say anything but to be honest I don't know what I'd have said. We could have seen a later viewing but I am the one who needs to get home as I don't like to leave mum alone for too long. Just really annoyed.


Assertiveness is something I have found that not only my clients struggle with but also something I sometimes find difficult. I think, at times, we struggle to see the difference between being assertive and being aggresive. It can also come down to our own self-esteem and confidence. Do we believe we have the right to profer our opinion or make our feelings known to the world. I do a lot of role play with clients to help them practice and ask them to look for safe opportunities where they can practice in the 'real world'.

I also give them a copy of the Assertiveness Bill of Rights, which they have all found useful. I have copied it below.

Everyone’s Bill of Rights (Assertiveness)

1. To be treated with respect, as a capable and equal human being

2. To have and express your own feelings, values and opinions without having to justify or make apologies

3. To be listened to, and taken seriously

4. To set your own priorities and state your own needs, and to be yourself; not necessarily what other people expect or want you to be

5. To say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ for yourself, without feeling guilty or selfish

6. To have the right to make mistakes, and to change your mind sometimes

7. To ask for what you want, while accepting that asking does not always mean getting

8. To say ‘I don’t understand’

9. To choose not to assert yourself

Hope some of you find this useful.


Thanks Lions,

I've found this really useful.

Best Wishes,



To change your sisters behaviour you will have to change yourself. It is not easy but it is very possible. Become assertive, do a course. I have written an article on assertiveness, it may help you to understand it. T o read the article go to


Thanks, Frederick - I have done assertiveness training, just need to practise it a bit more! I've actually started recording short assertive statements on my mob app - and I've noticed I have a tendency, even when "serious" to insert a slight nervous giggle into my voice, which is very UN assertive! I'll keep at it, thanks for the link.




Glad to see things are getting better for you. Keep trying, it will be OK in the end.



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