My life experiences taught me that you don’t speak up when something isn’t right and I know this has been coming down through many generations of women before me. I learnt to believe that when someone treats in a way that you don’t want to be treated, you just take it. Don’t say anything, don’t rock the boat, don’t correct them. If you do, you’re a bitch. If you hurt their feelings you’re a bitch.
I’m proud to say that I’m (mostly) an assertive person and I can stand up for myself if I need to. I wasn’t always like this and it’s taken a shit tonne of work to get here. Up until a few years ago, I was a door mat and it was not fun. Now I know that it was one of the things that sucked my energy.
So I did that for many many years. I suppressed every word I wanted to say back and every feeling. I did things I hated, I stayed in jobs much longer than I should have, I tolerated people & behaviours that I really should have put a stop to.
I suppressed everything because of the guilt and shame I felt.
I became angry, bitter & resentful and I didn’t like that side of me. It became harder & harder to ignore. I was channeling huge amounts of energy into thinking about what I really wanted to say and feeling resentful.
Slowly, I chipped away at this behaviour because wasn’t serving me in a good way. This year, I decided my intention was to Speak Up. Every situation I’ve been faced with where I have the push/pull of do I say something/do I not – I chose to speak up. And I can’t tell you how fucking liberating it feels.
Was it challenging? Fuck yes. Each time, I had to consciously tell myself to say something. It was a choice. But every time the words left my mouth or I hit send, it was a huge relief. AND I didn’t feel like a bitch.
Here are the techniques I used to speak up and be assertive, without feeling like a cow.
Get clear on what you value & what’s important
I know that honesty and connection are two of my top values. If I want to receive that from other people, I had to be prepared to give it first in all the areas of my life. If honesty is important to you, make that a priority.
I felt angry every time I didn’t speak up and it brewed inside me, but I wouldn’t admit it and therefore I couldn’t do anything about it. Tune into your feelings and pay attention to what’s showing up. What happens when you tolerate crappy words or behaviour from others?
Take out the emotion
I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I’m over-emotional, I say things that I don’t mean or I use a tone that isn’t ideal. Give yourself time to let your emotions settle before you respond. This isn’t about blocking how you’re feeling, it’s about giving a level-headed response that isn’t over run by your emotions.
Use grace & kindness
The best way to communicate what you want to say is by being courteous. For me, this is the part that helped me to not feel like a bitch. Use your words, don’t get defensive and state the facts. Think about how you’d want to be treated if you were on the receiving end of the conversation.
If you can relate to what I’ve talked about here, let me know! xo