Do you find yourself walking on eggshells in your relationship? Do you find yourself saying yes, when you really want to say no? Do you withhold what you are truly thinking and feeling because of fears of hurting other people’s feelings? Do your fears of abandonment and rejection keep you from speaking up for yourself?
If you can identify with any, or all of those questions, you are not being true to yourself or to others. You are failing to be your own advocate and you are depriving others of truly knowing you. You may think that your withholding of your true thoughts and feelings is a way to avoid hurt feelings, yet you are assuming that the other person will not be able to handle you having a different opinion, thought or feeling.
Saying what you think other people want to hear, instead of sharing what you truly think and feel, is an emotional intimacy buster. It can create frustration and resentment on your part and confusion for the person you are interacting with. The other person may think that you are thrilled with an activity that you agreed to participate in, yet you may be irritable and can’t wait to get it over with, which creates an awkward situation for all involved.
You can become assertive, stand up for yourself, build self-esteem and create more authentic relationships by starting to become more aware of the times when you “throw yourself under the bus” by not speaking up for yourself, withholding information or agreeing to something that you really don’t want to do. Do you do this on a daily basis? What is the situation? Who is the person who you normally do this with?
You can then take it a step further and analyze why you are walking on eggshells around these specific people. What are you afraid of? Do you have simmering fears of rejection or abandonment that prevents you from taking a stance for yourself? Make a commitment to yourself by starting to figure out the main areas of your life that you want to change. Start practicing by declining commitments that you do not want to participate in and stand up for yourself in a non-aggressive way to share what your thoughts and feelings are.
If you have become shut down due to emotional manipulation where your relationship partner uses verbal anger outbursts when you do not agree with their point of view, you may want to plan ahead before addressing a situation. Plan for timing: When is a good time of the day when both of you are calm, free from children running around the house, and electronics are off?
Plan for seating: What is a good room to have a private conversation? Where do you sit when you have this conversation? Do you prefer to have some distance between you, such as a coffee table or a kitchen counter? Some people state that they feel emotionally safer when having some physical distance. Address one topic at a time. If you discuss several issues at one time, the conversation may go all over the place and you are more likely not to get your message across. If you have difficulty being assertive and authentic with people in your life, or if your relationship is suffering due to ongoing communication problems, contact a licensed therapist in your area.
Ingela Edwards, MS, LPC, NCC, SRT, CCPS specializes in helping individuals and couples heal from sex addiction, infidelity, intimacy anorexia, intimacy deprivation, depression and anxiety. Ingela Edwards Counseling serves the McKinney, Plano, Allen, Frisco, Carrollton, Lewisville, Dallas and Sherman area.
Ingela Edwards, LPC, NCC, SRT, CCPS is an individual and marriage therapist