Many of us have grown up around people who have their own ‘quirky’, annoying, or downright outrageous ways of behaving. Some of us have been spared the childhood induction but then in adulthood have discovered that we clash with certain types of people or have issues in certain situations that leave us with a, “People won’t let me be me!” feeling.
If you struggle with having boundaries or asserting them, you will definitely have felt this way. It may be one of your biggest objections to having boundaries or asserting yourself in general because it seems like the type of people that you’re around / are attracted to or even the ‘world’ will ‘penalise’ you for basically being who you are and representing your own needs, wishes, and expectations, which is actually what assertive people do in general.
Here’s the thing: I get it, believe me – you don’t get to write a site like Baggage Reclaim without having cut your teeth without a lot of outrageous carry-on in your life – however, it is actually down to you to let you be you.
The alternative – expecting the universe to break you off a piece and grant you all your wishes, needs, and expectations without running into any issues and everyone acquiescing to them – puts you between a rock and a hard place. In that place you will either:
Engage in passive behaviour where you essentially silence who you are but somehow still expect to have your needs, expectations, and wishes met. Somehow you expect to ‘be you’ even though you’ve probably forgotten what that is while getting rolled out like a doormat on the People-Pleasing Trail.
You go down the passive aggressive route where you play nice and agreeable and appear to go along with people’s agendas and then you engage in ‘opposite’ and sabotaging behaviour in an attempt to get your own agenda through the back door.
You push through your needs, expectations, and desires with brute force – aggression – which leaves people feeling bullied, abused, and taken advantage of.
Likelihood is that you’re doing one or both of the former two and occasionally erupting when you can’t stuff down your feelings, needs, expectations, and desires any longer.
You have to allow you to be you instead of going “Oh they won’t do things my way so I’ll disallow my identity and go along with them” because that’s how you end up busting your boundaries or waking up one day not having a frickin’ clue who you are.
Your whole life will have gone by in a sea of avoiding asserting yourself, possibly because you thought it was a ‘bad’ thing to do, or possibly because you didn’t think that you ‘deserve’ respect or that you even have the right to assert your own needs, expectations and desires.
It’s not that I’m a hardass but I’ve learned this the hard way after my passiveness (and yeah at times passive aggression and aggression) brought myself and my health to its rock bottom – if having needs, expectations and desires scares people away, let them jog on and jog on fast.
The alternative is going through life with your hand on the head of the ‘real you’ that’s trapped inside of you and pushing it down or even smothering or drowning it. Slowly. Don’t allow this.
The key is in recognising the flaw in a ‘masterplan’ of spending your life knocking heads with the same people over and over and over again in different packages and situations.
So many readers have shared stories about how they’ve had family, friends, or exes talk over them, belittle, shut down their opinions, refuse to talk, shout instead of talking, silent treatment and all sorts of unpleasant carry-on and they rightly decide that they don’t want to be or are not this way. But what do these people then do?
They repeatedly engage with / go out with the same types of people and in knowing who they are, expect the other party to change.
When these people have conflicting values, different agendas or just don’t conduct themselves in a way that when they’re both interacting they feel that they’re able to represent themselves, they keep engaging with them in a way that says “Change so that I can be be!”
Of course change doesn’t happen or is limited and because it’s a recurring situation they end up feeling like they’re not allowed to be themselves. Actually, when you’re doing this, it’s the act of trying to get people to make you the exception to the rule and attempting to right the wrongs of the past that’s actually disallowing who you really are.
The truth is, someone who for instance has very conflicting values especially on the personal values front which governs character, and who even takes advantage of or even abuses you, is not someone who you could really be yourself with, unless being you is someone who isn’t themselves or is in a victim role.
Trying to change them is also the equivalent of attempting to disallow who they are so that you can let you be you and have your needs, expectations, and wishes met – yep, it’s the very same thing that you don’t want them doing to you.
Wouldn’t it be easier to be with someone or around people who you just be who you are and they’re themselves and you have a mutual relationship, whether it’s romantic or not? Couldn’t you just be who you are and let the chips fall where they may instead of worrying about ‘bad consequences’ or trying to change others so you can ‘catch a break’? At the very least be around people who are acquainted with the concept of respect.
Also, people cannot know who you are or ‘allow’ it when you present a ‘mask’ of a false self in the first place.You’re thinking “Let me be me!” and for the other person it’s the equivalent of “Er, but you don’t know who you are anyway! Sometimes you’re this, sometimes you’re that – make up your mind even if you cut me out of it!”
I’m now myself and there are still some people in my life that I majorly clash with because who I am doesn’t fit with who they are. They’d maybe like me to be more BS inclined or to relax my boundaries where they could run amok. That’s OK.
Allow you to be you instead of cutting that down with what you think you ‘should’ be so that you can feel approved of – in the end you finally realise that it’s your own approval you need most of all.