Competent, capable, different not disabled

Standing up for ourselves (cont.)

It can feel very, very scary to say “no” to other people. One reason for this is that the other person is hoping you will say “yes” and they may feel unhappy that you said “no”. If the other person is an aggressive type of person, they may get angry at you and this is a real risk.


However, if you don’t want to give something that is yours, but you are too afraid to say “no”, you are then giving something that is yours resentfully and unhappily. By avoiding saying “no”, you are protecting yourself from the other person’s potential anger in the short-term but you are making yourself very unhappy in the long term by always having to give into what they want, and always having to give away things that are yours that you do not want (or cannot afford) to give. This means you cannot protect yourself and you cannot get your own needs met. When I fail to say “no” when I need to, the result is massive anxiety, stomach problems, fear and a constant feeling of being unsafe.


Saying “no” is very scary in the short-term and does indeed risk other people becoming angry at you. If they do get angry, this can feel very unpleasant indeed and can make you feel anxious, scared and threatened. However, their anger is just a short-term response and you can ride it out. It is not going to kill you. Imagine that they are a two-year old throwing a tantrum. Keep breathing and tell yourself it will be okay.


In the long-term, by saying “no” you protect yourself from other people taking what is truly yours and which you do not want to give. If the other person was taking advantage of you, or abusing you, they soon learn they will not get away with this any more. You are much more likely to get the outcome that you need.


If you are dealing with someone who truly is a bully or abusive, then a good way to protect yourself from their anger is by removing yourself from the situation. If someone is being angry at you, you can choose to leave the room until they have calmed down. You can go and get support and advice from someone else. If this happens at work, you can report the unreasonable behaviour to your boss or their boss.


As I am learning how to do stand up for myself, I am finding ways to protect myself from other people’s unreasonable demands and from giving away things that I do not want to give. This is making me feel safer, less anxious and much more competent in being able to take care of myself. This is improving my self-esteem.


Recommended reading:  “Boundaries” – a book by Dr Henry Cloud and Dr John Townsend.


I have written more about this subject in my book “The Aspie Girl’s Guide to being Safe with Men: The Unwritten Safety Rules No-one is Telling You”, which is being published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers in December 2012.



To contact, e-mail: debi@aspiedebi.com

My boss was joking about how glad he was when I transferred out of his office.  I couldn’t think of a quick reply, so I thumped him harder than I meant to on the arm.


Shocked gasps all round from colleagues:  “Ooooh, you hit a director.”