10 tips on how to stop being too nice3/13/2014
We all teach people how to treat us and being submissive encourages mistreatment. I've outlined a couple of ways I've learned to start honoring my feelings and stop being taken advantage of. This is a continuation of my last personal post.
1. Make time for yourself
Think of alone time as time to recharge and rewire. Spend time giving back to yourself with something you love. Don't beat yourself up for enjoying being unproductive - "me" time is downtime you require so never feel guilty about it. You can only be your best self when you take time to carve out some personal happiness. You have to slow down and reflect on how things have been and how you want them to be. Our needs are always evolving so make sure you take stock of knowing what you want, what you don't want and what you'll accept. It's imperative that you reflect on habits you don't want to continue and understand what you want to change. Whenever you feel frazzled, get some alone time.
2. Say no sooner
Stop being afraid of the word "no", there's nothing wrong with it, I promise. When someone asks you to do something, get the date and time of the deadline/arrangement before you respond to the request. If you're not sure if you want to commit to something, say no first. Saying yes and backing out later makes you feel guilty and makes the other person feel gypped. Say no upfront and if you change your mind, you can always say yes later.
3. No means no excuses
Stop making excuses for yourself or for other people's behavior. Sometimes we make excuses hoping a friend/boyfriend/hook-up will magically start treating us better. Stop. When it comes to using verbal excuses to get out of something, the same applies. No excuses, you're busy. Keep it simple and don't elaborate. Excuses give wiggle room for someone to change your mind and if you're like me, it's been changed way too much so give yourself a break. When people try to alter your plans for you, stick to your guns and terminate the conversation like a boss.
4. Redefine what it means to be 'busy'
You don't need to be saving lives to be busy. If you're asked to do something and you'd really rather not it's because you're going to be busy...being awesome. I can always be honest with my friends and say "I'm not up to it" and they're happy with my response. It would be great if everyone was like that but I've found that many people like to keep pushing, in which case, you're busy. This isn't an excuse because pretty much anything except breathing, is you being busy. I read a book where this player of a guy who'd disappeared on this girl called her randomly to organize a ride from the airport at some ungodly hour. She said, "Can't, I'm busy then", he responded, "Busy doing what, sleeping?" and she said "Yes" and hung up. Now I know you're not always going to be dealing with assholes but being busy isn't personal; you spend so much of your life doing things you don't want to do and you will do it again so sometimes, you have to be busy enjoying your time on your terms.
5. Ration your apologies
Make an effort to keep track of how much you say "sorry". People who are too nice apologize way too much and it's subcionciuosly destructive because you're shifting blame onto yourself at times when you don't need to. When we always apologise, we're sometimes saying "I'm not good enough". Have you ever felt like you had to explain yourself by being apologetic? Stop with phrases like "I know this is so stupid but I really like X". It's not stupid if you like something. I used to say sorry when people bumped into me or when I tripped on an inanimate object because it was such a natural reflex. Last year, there was a situation where I'd spent a few weeks meeting with someone working on a project I'd paid for. I would be kept waiting each time I met with them and they messed up three times, meaning I had to meet with them several more times. On one occasion, they had left the office early when I'd returned to have their work rectified. I was offered no apology for any of this. One morning, after being given a vague option to be there some time between 9:30 and 10 am, I arrived at 9:45 to be questioned as to why I was late. Usually I would naturally apologise and the woman was certainly expecting me to say sorry. She kept trying to make me feel bad even after I'd given her the facts so I just let her rant to my silence and she ended up feeling awkward and getting on with her job. It was the first time I'd withheld an apology and it felt empowering because I felt like I was finally respecting myself. That job also finally got done correctly. Only apologize when you feel you should.
6. Remember that your feelings are valid
Don't do things that don't sit right with you. Blogging has really upped my confidence with this because I've had to constantly tell companies what I'm prepared or not prepared to do. Listen to your gut. When it comes to your personal life, you don't have to accept shitty behaviour, you don't have to keep trying and you don't owe toxic relationships your time. Stop feeling guilty. When people ask where to go or what to do, don't say "I'm cool with whatever", suggest something you want to do once in a while. Spend your time and energy where you want to and when you want to. Cut the self-deprecating talk, some people will actually start to believe you. Similarly when you respect yourself, others will start respecting you.
7. Treat everyone as if they are completely capable without you
This is a great way to start being true to yourself without being confrontational. Quit coddling and reassuring all the time because if people think you're a soft touch, they will prey on your nature by relying on you to let things slide or validate their behaviour. Don't offer to help if you can't or don't want to. If someone hurts you, don't reassure them otherwise. If someone tells an offensive joke, don't laugh. Whenever you feel pressured to answer a question but you'd rather not, keep your responses vague. Don't be afraid of the phrase, "I don't want to talk about that". Studies on social hacking show that people who phish for information need only leave suggestive gaps in conversation before their targets surrender to human nature by filling in those gaps. Credit card details and passwords are gleaned from people and companies this way. We've all met someone who makes us feel like they're just trying to find something out and in tamer instances, we've met people who know all of our bullshit but never let us in on theirs. When you treat everyone as completely capable, you're less likely to want to 'help' them by filling silences, only to end up feeling like you've told them your whole life story. I used to be an open book but now I'm only that way with people who deserve to read my story.
8. Stop sneaky remarks in their tracks
When someone makes a comment you dislike, speak up right away so that they know that shit like that doesn't fly with you. Right off the bat, people need to know where they stand. If you dislike it when someone begins, "No offence but..." interrupt them humourously before they decide to continue. Don't let people get away with backhanded compliments, my natural response used to be to ignore it and move on but that just got me more of the same. Either ask what they mean by it or pretend you didn't quite catch that and keep asking them to repeat it. I've found that people back down or start trying to explain themselves when you do that but if anyone confidently stews in their own venom then they cray cray, get out of there. When people fish for negative info or make a comment suggesting you should feel a certain way ("I'd be heartbroken if that was me!") or that you behave a certain way ("No way, you wouldn't do that, I know you sooo well"), do not entertain it. Stock responses for emotional vampires: "Really? Huh. Anyway..." and "That's an interesting way to look at it". I've also found that incessant laughter confuses the hell out of people and they generally simmer down.
9. Remember the outcome is never usually as bad as imagined
You might think saying that no to something important or confronting someone will be painful. It's never that bad though, Jerry Springer shit doesn't happen often in real life. I find that confrontation works best when it's instant and doesn't refer to anyone's past behaviour. Don't take it there and don't let someone else take it there. This is 2014, you're not dealing with what you or what they did when you were 21. You're dealing with "That just hurt me". Confrontation is annoying because my experiences have pretty much been listening to someone deny any wrong-doing or insinuate that there's something wrong with me. No one enjoys it but it's not something to avoid because if you don't address behaviour, it will continue. That said, it's never too late to speak up when it crops up again. If the behavior still continues, you're dealing with a lost cause. Cut it loose.
10. Spend the most time with people who have your back
We become most like the people who we spend the most time with so it's important that we divide our time between people who have our best interests at heart. It's great to have someone in your life who is comfortable with confrontation because they can help you come out of your shell. I actually realized how being "too nice" can inconvenience those closest to you because they too, have to deal with the status quo you've established in other relationships and can show you where you're going wrong. Healthy relationships should strengthen both parties. I spoke to an awesome friend and we both found that we had been spending our time on friendships that required the most work instead of spending it on the easy ones. To this day, my favorite people are some of the friends I barely see because they don't make demands on me and I know they'll always be there. I'm going to stop taking those great friendships for granted.
Here's to being a fierce warrior queen!