Assertiveness – what a difference it can make!

Post 3 (already?! Or am I slow at posting?)

I ended the last post with the mention of overwhelming and out-of-control feelings. I know I tend to jump about from things, but I am literally typing whatever is in my mind, and I type so fast I don’t even know what I’ve written ’til I’ve read it back to myself. So bare with.

Emotions. Powerful things that, to a lot of people with Borderline PD feel much more intense and overwhelming most of the time. Though it’s important to realise we can all feel this way at times of, for example, highly stressful situations. Have you ever felt something so intense that you’ve just acted on it without even thinking, or almost acted on it? A familiar example might be, feeling so angry you punch something, throw something or say something you later regret. That was how I felt almost all of the time. At times, when I didn’t feel so overwhelmed by the emotions that led to self-harm or lashing out, I felt like I was on the brink of doing so. I felt like I was always close to becoming so overwhelmed by my emotions that I’d lose control. And living like that is exhausting; it’s a constant battle to stop yourself losing that sense of control. A vicious battle that nobody on the outside could see. And when I did lose sense of control, I’d hurt myself physically, because it helped to make those emotions feels more in my control. It brought the intensity of my feelings right back down to a more manageable level. It also left me feeling a range of other negative emotions though; guilt, shame, fear of people finding out etc. A lot of the times that led to self-harm, there was usually anger behind it. But I didn’t know why I hated myself so much, why I was so angry; like, I could never just answer the question “why do you feel so angry right now?”. Now, I can look deeper into it and see what’s behind the anger. It was about something that seems so simple; I was angry at myself a lot of the time, because I didn’t stand up for myself and my own needs. I was forever agreeing to things that I didn’t want to agree with, and had only done so because I was petrified of offending, upsetting or hurting somebody. I was willing to sacrifice my own needs, for the sake of others, constantly. I lived in a state of regret; “why the hell did I agree to …?” and anger that I couldn’t say the simple N word! I also began to resent the people who asked favours of me; how dare they not see that really, I wanted to say no. Obviously now I can see they aren’t mind-readers and the more I said yes instead of no, the more other people thought it was ok to ask me. I think when somebody always says yes to things, it’s easy to (without even realising) become quite dependent upon them always saying yes. It’s almost always expected.

We have all agreed to do things we don’t want to do, it’s just that I agreed all the time and sometimes in situations that were ‘high risk’. It’s like, we all have our limits of how far we can be pushed before we put the brakes on. Assertiveness is something we all have to practice, but like everything it’s on a spectrum and everyone is in a different place on that spectrum.

So, the moment I started saying no to some things, people were shocked as that wasn’t what was expected. It took time for other people around me to adjust to the change, but the more assertive I was, the less people demanded and expected from me. Of course, we still all have to do things we don’t want to do; I don’t say no to everything. Life’s still a bitch at times, for everyone, but that’s something we just have to accept.

I hope I’m making sense because now I’ve lost my train of thought!

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