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How do I start putting my needs first?

(24 Posts)
jinju Wed 15-May-19 22:42:23

I have very low self esteem and low self worth. Had some counselling so have easily identified this and am aware of my behaviour.

However my instinctive reaction to people being bossy/rude/pushy/forceful or even simply asking me if I want to do something (which I don't especially) or am available for something (which I might not be) is always the same: compliant, passive and unassertive. Then I kick myself after and wish I'd just said NO.

I've learned enough to know that if I then go back and say I've changed my mind/I'm not free any more etc etc that genuinely nice or normal people will be fine with it and it's only an abusive person who will have a problem with it - in which case no loss there for me.

However I cannot change my instinctive response despite knowing all of this. It's just there, inbuilt, and I can't unlearn it, even though I really really want to as I'm fed up being a doormat. My needs always come last and I don't know how it feels to actually think that they are important enough to come first.

I am looking for tips on how to actively change this.

NuffSaidSam Wed 15-May-19 22:46:49

Just never, ever agree to anything straight off.

Have some stock phrases ready to go:

'I'll check my diary when I get home and let you know'

'Maybe, I'll just need to check my diary first'

'I'm afraid I can't commit to that right now, but I'll let you know'

Then take some time to think about it before you commit.

jinju Wed 15-May-19 22:50:33

I know about assertiveness techniques - and that is one of them. But I never remember it when I need to. It's like I freeze when someone else is pushing something on me and I can't stop it.

NuffSaidSam Wed 15-May-19 23:00:50

Would practising in the mirror help? Or role play with DH/a friend? Get it down so it just rolls of the tongue.

NuffSaidSam Wed 15-May-19 23:03:02

Would practising in the mirror help? Or role play with DH/a friend? Get it down so it just rolls of the tongue.

jinju Wed 15-May-19 23:04:33

Good idea. It sounds stupid but it wasn't that long ago that I actually learned the difference between aggressiveness and assertiveness because I genuinely couldn't tell.

BallyHockeySticks Thu 16-May-19 00:56:14

It doesn't sound stupid in the least.

Possibly a stupid question back at you: is it always clear to you what your needs/wants are? I think I have been so well trained to keep others happy, it's almost like my brain just doesn't have space to hold and consider what I want.

I don't have any answers but it occurs to me that if you have any problems clearly articulating your preferences, in your own head, then of course it is difficult to actively prioritise them.

The freezing thing happens to my son a lot (he is autistic) and is a tricky one. Accepting it's ok to take a bit longer to process things might be a start. The pressure you put on yourself to respond quickly ramps up the pressure. DS is not broken or stupid, he just needs a bit longer sometimes and that's ok.

jinju Thu 16-May-19 07:30:45

Yes sometimes I'm not always clear about what I want - and this is what makes me stumble. But often I can hear the voice inside my head saying no I don't really want to but on the outside I'm nodding and saying ok. I need to externalise that voice but frustrated why it doesn't come.
It's the same if someone is rude to me - I never react annoyed or show my annoyance, I am always overly polite and even smile when smiling is highly inappropriate!
It makes me feel stupid sad

rubydiamondsapphire Thu 16-May-19 07:34:26

I have the same issue. Currently leaving an abusive marriage that I had no idea was abusive until I was told on here hmm

jinju Thu 16-May-19 07:40:31

Ruby, I was in an abusive marriage for years too. I didn't realise how toxic it was either. I knew things weren't right but it wasn't until I started talking about it to people that I realised quite how not normal our relationship was.

jinju Thu 16-May-19 08:56:56

Had massive relief this morning after someone I had to change plans with was totally fine with it. It still surprises me when I don't get an aggressive reaction.

Mummaofmytribe Thu 16-May-19 09:04:08

You'll get there. You're being really brave with the counselling and I don't think you can expect to become an expert at assertiveness instantly. Like every new skill it's gonna take some practice. Just keep plugging away and that "No thanks, can't manage that" will pop out and you'll be on your way. And it will feel great

woodcutbirds Thu 16-May-19 09:07:42

Find a set phrase that you feel 100% comfortable saying. It has to be something that taps into your general niceness and desire to please people, not something uncharacteristically assertive.
How about:
'I am really flattered to be asked. Thank you for thinking of me. But right now I'm feeling overloaded so I'm not committing to anything at all until I'm back on track.'
Everyone in the world feels overloaded at some point, so they know why you are saying no and most people will appreciate it.

jinju Thu 16-May-19 13:05:59

I think I'm fine with most people but there are a few more 'forceful' ones I struggle with - they probably mean it in a nice way as they want to spend time together, but they are very good at being persuasive (or maybe I'm just easily persuaded) and it does bug me that I find it so hard to handle.

jinju Sat 18-May-19 22:54:37

Anyone who can chat to me. Feeling extremely low.

GoodGirlsGuide Sat 18-May-19 23:00:58

Hello jinju. I can chat flowers. Thinking back over your day is there anything you noticed, read or saw that made you smile? I can share some of mine if it’s challenging to think of something right now smile

jinju Sat 18-May-19 23:05:50

Thank you 😊
Mildly, but anxiety has really got me today and has been underlying everything. I've been visibly jumpy and nervous even though I usually hide it well.
I'm an embarrassment to myself. A grown woman and I can't have a chat or be around people without being plagued with stupid thoughts. Feel bloody incompetent.

GoodGirlsGuide Sat 18-May-19 23:17:40

Your age has nothing to do with experiencing anxiety, nor does it make you incompetent. The fight-flight-freeze thing gets me too. I’ve had a bit of an ‘up and down’ day myself. Best bit of advice I had recently was that if you’re feeling anxious remembering to breathe and focus on your breath can really help as it sends that message back that you’re not in danger (nothing is going to eat you at least!) and your pre-frontal cortex can start to re-engage (I might have the exact science a bit wrong here!) and you feel more calm and in control. Stupid thoughts are just that - thank your mind for them and just acknowledge them as ‘stupid’; a more sensible, intelligent, useful or helpful thought will be along any moment (you posted on here which was all those things!).

GoodGirlsGuide Sat 18-May-19 23:20:23

I’ve smiled at DH doing the food shopping today (I like to do it but was really busy) and the amusing texts with photos he sent me asking ‘is this the right one to buy’! It was fabric conditioner and I really didn’t mind which one he bought. He chose a different brand to what I normally buy and my washing smells glorious grin

jinju Sat 18-May-19 23:26:38

I feel like this so often that I don't really know what it's like not to feel like this, and the me without anxiety is not someone I know at all.
When I'm feeling more in control, all I'm doing is masking it. I hate feeling like a fake.
Honestly, I cannot think of anything good today. Apart from things that could have been worse. It's been shit start to finish. Hate being negative. Maybe rereading this when I'm feeling better will help. I know I don't always feel like this.

GoodGirlsGuide Sat 18-May-19 23:36:27

I’m sorry to hear it’s been a tough day. Are you still seeing a counsellor? It might be really helpful to do this again if you aren’t. Have you read any self-help books? I can recommend an amazing one if you would consider this.

jinju Sat 18-May-19 23:39:08

I'm on a waiting list but also looking into some private sessions because I really feel like I can't wait any more.
I prefer online resources but thank you, yes, I will look into anything that can help.
I just need to scream. Thank you for replying to me tonight.

GoodGirlsGuide Sat 18-May-19 23:46:03

Can you go anywhere (sound proofed!) to scream? I often shout/scream (very loudly!!) from the confines of my car when on a quiet country road and it is very cathartic hmm.

I’m happy I saw your post and was able to reply. I’m heading off to bed soon but I’m going to go to sleep thinking that tomorrow is a fresh, new day and will be a better one. I hope you can do the same and that you give yourself an opportunity to look for things that make you smile tomorrow - however small. I’m glad you recognise that things won’t always be this way. That is a helpful thought to hold on to. I hope you get some rest tonight flowers

jinju Sat 18-May-19 23:48:18

Good night thanks

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