Updated: Mar 30, 2021
Ok… I have a small confession to make… I have a love/hate relationship with those cheesy ‘Hallmark Channel’ love movies. There… I said it. Even though we know the guy’s gonna get the girl, I still love the angst of the chase, the push and pull to get to love. But as much as I love those movies, they frustrate the snot out of me! Why? Because the reason there’s so much back and forth – all the “Will he? Won’t she?” is because no one’s copping to how they really feel!
I get it. That can be hard to do when you’re crushing on someone, but even more so when it’s an unpleasant or awkward situation; like a good friend with boundary issues, or at work where you’re dealing with a coworker or manager that’s really difficult to work with. Well here are some initial steps you can take to help you ‘fess up in your own life and get on the road to feeling better about speaking up!
Be Transparent and Authentic – The very first thing to work on is your authenticity. Yeah, yeah I know.. so trendy and a bit lofty, right? Nope, not really. This is truly where it’s at and will ultimately make your life easier and more enjoyable. It really is as simple as asking yourself the question “do you know who you are and what you want?” If you don’t, then that’s where you start. The answers are the first things you have to work on so that you can be authentic. When you are living out who you are, even if it’s just a little bit, it’s a lot easier for people to relate to you. Now, “how to become a more authentic you” is another post!
No One Controls Your Feelings but You – People cannot make you feel a certain way about anything or anyone – unless YOU let them. You are in complete ownership of your feelings, which are simply your responses to what’s happening, and sometimes your feelings can be overwhelming or even exaggerated for various reasons, like ignoring them for too long. However, no matter what, you are the one in control... No one else.
No One’s A Mind Reader – Going with the flow just for the sake of not rocking the boat actually creates more drama and stress. Yes, finding the courage to deal with unpleasant people or uncomfortable situations can be both terrifying and downright nauseating. But dealing with the issue, whatever or whoever it is, is empowering! More importantly, it diminishes the magic power it has over you. Also, people can’t read your mind or your feelings; you’ve got to vocalize what’s bothering you or no one will know.
Tell It Like It Is – I struggled for years with being assertive; heck… I still have my moments! But when I finally decided that I was done with feeling small and unheard, I began speaking up but started with small steps. Annoyed that a frazzled lady cut in front of you in the Starbucks line? Excuse yourself as you tell her you’ve been in line all along, are in just as much of a rush as she is, then politely point her to the back of the line. A work colleague keeps interrupting as you try to discuss this months’ numbers? Let him know you appreciate his ‘enthusiasm and eagerness to help’ (yes, I’m being sarcastic), then firmly state that you really want to finish your report before the end of this decade, and would appreciate his restraint. What’s important is that you try speaking up right away and in the moment you feel mistreated or misunderstood. Even if you don’t do it perfectly – that really doesn’t matter, those small victories rack up! And remember, you usually learn how walk before you run – well, except for my daugher The Womanchild!
Get the 411 – It’s tempting to take a self-righteous position, especially when you know you’re right. Of course you’re justified in defending yourself if someone seems to be entirely in the wrong, but what’s important is giving your feelings a reality check; don’t react with your emotions. Instead, take a step back, have a “woosaahhh” moment, then calmly explain your perspective to the other person. Do your best to avoid combative tones or accusatory language. Again, I’m not saying don’t be true to what you’re feeling, but to the best of your ability, clarify exactly what you mean and listen to their response. Only then can a real, productive and meaningful conversation be had, with true understanding to follow.
Respond Thoughtfully – If someone’s making you feel some kind of way, don’t respond right away. Remember… you never have to respond to anyone in the heat of anything, but you can still stand up for yourself. Just stand down for a few moments to get your thoughts – and emotions together; you can address the situation and/or person later. This gives you time to create a game plan, and strategy to address the situation that’s based on facts, not your twisted emotions. You’ll be the cooler head that prevails as you work things out!
Avoid the ‘Reactionary Clapback’ – When you do react, it’s imperative to think about what you will say; here I go with ‘strategy’ again. Stick to facts and let go of being overly emotional, not that that’s a bad thing. Hey, sometimes a situation calls for a little ‘Do Better Medicine’, ya know? But know that it’s more than okay to express the seriousness of the situation and how it’s made you feel. And don’t go into attack mode; remember, you want to be heard and understood, so just firmly state your response.
Speak Up – It can be soooo hard to speak up! I’m talking stone cold fear inducing! I know, because that was me. But once you get clear about what’s wrong, and you start really verbalizing it, you'll really know what’s bothering you in that relationship or situation - whether it’s about division of labor or something else entirely. You should feel free to speak up to people but also be willing to listen to them.
Be Straightforward – Don’t be passive-aggressive. PUHLEEZ! Make sure you’re letting people know how you feel and what they can expect from you. Yes, your inner ‘Petty Patty’ may be tempted to behave in ways that won’t improve your relationships or the situations you find yourself in, like being critical, barely audible attitudinal smart remark, or doing the very thing they did to you right back to them for a mean of game of ‘tit for tat’. Letting people know what you expect from them is very important to any relationship.
Reclaim Your Time – Auntie Maxine was not playing! This right here is the truth, the way, and the light. As you start establishing boundaries for yourself, you’ll begin to realize who’s with you and who’s not. You may have to gently let them go, or straight up cut them off; I’ve had to do both and you’ll survive! You only have so many days on this earth, and trust me when I say time goes by much faster than you even realize. Don’t waste it.
Practice – Just as the saying goes, practice makes perfect, so use every opportunity to put your new skills to use!
So yes, it’s time to take a stand. You really can do it! And when you do, you’ll start attracting and having better relationships than you ever thought possible. It’ll be one of the best thing you’ll ever do for yourself. No one knows how to treat you but you, and if you don’t teach people how to do just that, and what you expect, you’ll never get the respect you deserve.
Be well Sis 💜