When I’m presented with difficult people or situations, I notice patterns in the emotions these situations usually trudge up. I’m not talking about the upset customer in line ahead of me or someone who decides to cut me off in traffic. I’m talking about the repetition in scenarios and the behaviors of the people who show up in my life and how I feel after being in their presence.
For example, I am occasionally faced with people who treat me like my time isn’t as valuable as theirs and people who feel like they should have a vote in what I do and how I do it. The latter generally being women of an older age and they take it upon themselves to mother me – even though they aren’t my mother.
As I’m becoming more confident in myself and staking claim in the space I am holding, I’m finding these situations to be less frequent.
I think a big contributor to they way people treat me has a lot to do with how available I make myself to them. If you asked me if I was a people pleaser my answer would immediately be “no.” Upon further investigation, I can see where the challenging people in my life would feel that I am totally a people pleaser and it’s my availability that makes them feel they have the liberty to walk on me.
I notice this is particularly true when I do things with one method and I meet resistance. The next time, I do things differently hoping to have a better outcome – only to be met with more dissatisfaction. It has a way of getting old. Some might consider my ability to be flexible to be a gift – I can blend and keep peace just about anywhere, in any situation. But unfortunately, if I’m faced with a difficult person where I should be standing firm, my flexibleness is a flaw. A mighty one too. I just put it out of my mind and move along.
Another contributor to this “walk on” behavior is my willingness to share.
My husband is constantly saying I give up too much information. And I can see why he says that. I’m honest to a fault. Years ago, I would blab on and on about what I was thinking and how I came to whatever conclusion I had. It was important to me to express where my decisions came from so the recipient would understand exactly my thought process*. So nothing could be taken incorrectly or blown out of proportion.
After having kids, I just don’t have that kind of energy anymore.
Sadly, kids or not, if someone is going to take something the wrong way and not ask me to clarify a possible misunderstanding, then that’s on them. Admittedly, I will still occasionally over-share. If someone says something repeatedly that happens to be a fear or emotional trigger for me, it’s not a sign of weakness if I explain to them how it makes me feel.
I suppose exposing a fear could give them the *feeling* of having an upper hand but it’s certainly not a weakness.
I’m being honest about how I feel when they say those things. This provides me with two insights; #1. It gives them an opportunity to stop their behavior now that they know my feelings about it. #2. If they continue to throw that trigger out there every chance they can, I’m fully aware of the type of person they are and am able to keep them at arm’s length – or further.
I’ve had people say, “No, they know what they are doing. It’s intentional.” While that might be true I refuse to assume they know how I feel if I haven’t said it. It might even be an involuntary thing – I have to tell them. I feel better because I know they are aware and their behavior afterward is a big indicator of how I move forward. Having a clear idea of the person I’m dealing with allows me to equip myself with whatever censors are necessary, if I need to pull the cord on the relationship and ultimately gives me more protection of self.
Sharing is definitely not a weakness… as long as you protect yourself from those who would take advantage.
*Sometimes I still catch myself doing this. Yeah, it’s a habit I need to break.
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