Hello, lovely commenters! I have a lot of actual (paid!) work to do, so I’m turning this question over to you since as a bunch you all seem GREAT at standing up for yourselves.
Like the questioner, I had to learn to have boundaries from scratch as an adult and I was afraid for a long time that if I said what I needed or got pissed off at people that they would leave/hate me and that I would be a big meanpants who is ruining everything. Then I got a lot of therapy and probably 50% of writing this blog my own personal daily reminder that boundaries are great and everyone should have them! And people actually like and respect you more when you can articulate them, and if they don’t, well, you don’t have to hang out with crappy people, and it actually doesn’t matter whether or not crappy people like you.
So, take it away, readers. Tell us how you learned how to stand up for yourself.
Dear Captain Awkward,
I’ve just discovered your blog and I’m hoping that your grown-up, no-nonsense woman powers work on me.
I’ve always been a shy woman trying to fight her social awkwardness and I’m proud to say I’ve been progressing very positively, except for one BIG thing: I find it really hard to stand up for myself. I try to avoid conflict at all costs to the point that it took 3 months to break up with my boyfriend because he would take advantge of my guilt for breaking it up. Something similar happens when someone’s mean to me, I’ve taught myself to shrugg it off, but I know that what I should do is send those meanies packing. Something similar happens at work, I keep making excuses for others to be mean, lazy or underachieving. I put myself in their places and think, well, I’m sure the have a good reason for it, when deep down I know it’s not true.
The weird thing is that whenever someone close to me is in trouble, either being bullied or abused in any way I react like a freaking Mama Bear. Some older kids bullying my little cousin at school, no worries, let’s have a chat. I’ll give them a lesson on manners. Some punks throwing stones at my dog, I’ll walk to those guys sitting on their bikes and give them a piece of my mind. The same goes for anyone I feel is in a powerless position, I break fights between kids on the street and remind unkind people to be polite to old ladies. Still when someone is rude to me I freeze and turn into a wimpy kid, tearing up and second guessing myself.
I’ve never met anyone with a similar problem and I’m starting to think that I’m a freak. I wonder whether there are more people with the same issues and I would love to hear your advice on the matter. What can I do to learn to stand up for myself Captain Awkward?
Thanks a lot for your help,
A Wimpy Mama Bear