I love Highly Sensitive People (HSP). But I hate how they are food for bullies. So, I create tools to help HSPs set boundaries and be assertive.
The holiday season can be a stressful time. It brings out the best and the worst in people. Highly sensitive types must be extra careful not to burn out.
Years ago, I worked with a bully. She was nasty. Always telling me what to do. After observing the bully push me around (again), a wise co-worker took me aside and said, "Hey, I saw that. It's not right you letting her walk all over you. She's not your Boss."
I didn't say why, but deep down, I was afraid of letting my anger out and ripping a strip off that bully. Avoid conflict at all costs, was my motto.
"Ya, I know." was my sheepish answer. The co-worker then shared a little gem of advice.
"Sometimes you gotta show your teeth."
Thus began a whole inquiry. What would, "showing my teeth even look like?" I wondered. So I tried it out.
It did not go well.
Seems people around me had come to expect I would agree. Do what I was volun-told. Saying, "No," and setting boundaries resulted in further abuse. It was like the bullies knew what they were doing. ?!
When I said, "No," they demanded an explanation. "Why?" they cried. And I struggled to give them one. Until I learned the next part.
I do (or don't do) what's right for me. Period.
No explanation forthcoming.
When I asserted myself to the bullies, "No, that's not going to work for me." and they demanded I give them a reason. I followed with.
"It's what's right for me."
If they persisted. I repeated, "I told you, it's what's right for me, right now."
And that was me, the lil 'Empath, showing her teeth.
Showing Your Teeth in Steps:
1. State your choice or boundary (i.e. "No thank you. I will not be attending.")
2. If necessary, provide the, "It's what's right for me." catch-all explanation
3. Any challengers hear the explanation again.
Remember, what's right for you is absolute. If you want to change your mind later that's your prerogative. Having boundaries means being assertive.
This holiday season, give the bullies at work and in your family, a special gift. You asserting yourself and if need be, showing your teeth!
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