Stand Up For Yourself

One of my clients, a thirty-five year old gentleman, has talked about growing up in a crime and drug-infested neighborhood. “Even if you were just going to the park to play baseball, you never knew who might try to steal your glove”, he said.

His dad, a hard-working family man, taught him to never let people walk over him. With dad’s support he found it easy to follow that advice. He learned to watch his back, and he learned that, if the bad kids think you’re tough, they won’t mess with you. As a result, he got into lots of fights starting in early childhood.

Now he’s a hard-working man himself, but he has emotional problems and admits he is easily angered; he says, “I guess I have a chip on my shoulder”. His anger has contributed to two failed relationships, and he pays child support to two women. That is one costly chip on the shoulder! Ultimately, it took a near-fatal car crash to convince him he needed help. I think he’s going to do well.

I have also been working with a lovely woman who is just the opposite. In the last five years of her forty-year long marriage, she has allowed her husband to abuse her emotionally and verbally. He has cheated on her, he wastes money on drugs and goes to bars with nude women on stage. His grown children are as disgusted as she is, and have urged her to leave him. Occasionally she blows her top, but much of the time she suffers in silence. This has been going on for over five years. Her way of talking about him makes me want to take her by the shoulders, give her a little shake and say, “Wake up!”

Without my suggesting it, she finally decided to divorce; to her own detriment, she’s dragging her feet. My strategy has been to allow her space and time to figure it out for herself. Ultimately, she may need a push from someone else to help her speed up the process so she can move on. She will be alright, but she’s not making it easy for herself.

Somewhere between these two extremes there must be a happy medium. Some effective way of dealing with people who are willing to hurt you. We’re talking about being assertive.

I recently wrote that fear underlies other painful emotions. I wonder whether you can see the role that fear has played in the lives of these two very different people.

If you’re taking the time to read this, you may have had some troubles. And I wonder whether fear played role there. If you’re currently struggling with something, please reach out for a no-cost consultation, by calling 219-309-3928. Fear is a powerful force, but you may have strength and allies you don’t even know about.

Thanks for reading!