Standing Up For Myself vs Pushing People Away

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    Hi everyone, I’m having this reoccurring issue that maybe you can help me with.

    It usually begins when I’m trying to explain myself (boyfriend, family member, and co-workers), and it seems like the other person is responding to a part of what I’m saying, or what they think I’m saying, but there’s a kernel that’s important to me, which is they’re missing (intentional or not) that is the crux of the matter.

    At this point, I reiterate that actual thing I’m trying to say. And usually, I start to get frustrated. I’ll attempt to make my point again in harsher words and probably get more sarcastic and definitely seem like I’ve lost my patience.

    A couple hours later, I always end up feeling terribly guilty, like I need to grow up, learn to bite my tongue. Then it spirals into ‘this is why no one takes me seriously, I’ve proven to them that I’m emotionally unstable, I’m not good enough to manage my emotions, they have a reason to not like me because of my behavior.’ Finally, I end up withdrawing further, although still having a chip on my shoulder, because I do feel like I never got the original point across anyway.

    This makes me more less confident and more prone to lashing out again, because I feel small and I have to defend myself and my point of view.

    My boyfriend said that I should just be ok with losing my cool sometimes and stay confident in the perspective I had when it all happened, ie. cut out the guilt-withdrawing cycle. I felt like he was right, I needed to stand up for my point of view.

    However, as he was saying these things to me, I again tried with confidence this time (not with sarcasm or harshness) to make a point. It turned out that I didn’t feel like he was getting this point, so I kept saying (with confidence and not sarcasm again), ‘but that’s not what I’m saying…, no that’s not it…,’ etc. And then he felt shitty, like he had to walk around on egg shells around me. So now, I feel like this confidence thing is still making me push people away.

    How can I break this cycle and still feel like I can get my point of view out there?

    Buddhist Wife

    Hello Amber,

    Someone once gave me some advice that I think you might also find useful.

    It was suggested to me that when we are in particularly stressful situations, it is OK to not respond immediately. I was told that you can just ‘park’ your emotions to deal with at a later date. Not suppress, that’s different, just park.

    So lets say, hypothetically, your boyfriend does something that annoys you. You could say, ‘I was uncomfortable with what you just did, but I’d rather discuss it when I’ve had time to think and when I can explain myself calmly.’

    Creating a little bit of space can give you time to reflect which in turn gives you the possibility of explaining yourself better.

    You may also find it useful to regularly journal, or just write about your feelings from time to time. You could even do art or some other form that you find expressive.

    I hope you find ways to communicate more easily.


    Hi Amber,

    Sometimes people misinterpret what we say. I struggle with this miscommunication with my mom almost on a daily basis and we get into arguments over it. I find that sometimes you need to re-word what you are trying to say because sometimes people can understand your message with different words. I know it can be annoying at times, but like Buddhist Wife suggested to park your emotions.

    Communication isn’t just about the actual words, it’s also the intonation and the delivery. Even when you are upset, just take a breath, and slowly and calmly explain yourself. It’ll probably take some practice, but just like anything else, it’ll get easier with time.

    I hope that helps!



    Hello Amber,
    I share your frustration! Sometimes when I talk to a male friend that I care very deeply for, I feel like I’ve overstepped my boundaries and then I wind up regretting saying anything to him and I don’t talk to him for days – or worse, I apologize for being too emotional. He always reassures me that I haven’t done anything weird, but I think my own self-doubt makes me FEEL like I am miscommunicating. I have found a technique that helps me a lot – when I take the time to use it…

    In your case, with situations where you need to communicate that someone has done something that hurt or offends you – try writing your feelings down before you actually try to say them aloud. Maybe reading them back to yourself will help you to say precisely how you feel without losing control of your emotions. I have tried this and it works.

    • This reply was modified 10 years, 6 months ago by LisaS. Reason: typo

    Hi Amber,

    I relate to what you are saying, as I spent 12 years in a marriage with that being an ongoing theme. It is on you to get your point across, but communication is in fact a two way street, so there is a responsibility on the other person, too. But, as you pointed out, sometimes people simply don’t get it, and maybe its not up to you to make sure they do.

    It is easy to lose your cool if the goal of the argument is based on what you want from someone else, but what I have discovered is that if I have something important to express, it doesn’t matter if someone “gets it” or not!

    Can you just be with a situation where someone doesn’t get it? I found that to be particularly effective with my ex, who maybe wasn’t really trying to “get it,” and maybe that’s okay. I may need to express something, but someone else’s understanding is of less importance. Maybe merely the expression of it is enough. That also takes me out of the position where my peace is based on someone else’s behavior, which of course is the oldest unhappiness trap in the world.

    They either will or they won’t get it, and as long as you have done a reasonable job of communicating your concern, stating what you need from the situation, then you just follow through on what you need to do, with or without them. Then you aren’t stuck waiting for a response you may or may not get.



    I’m sorry for the spinning that happens when you don’t feel heard. I used to have that happen to me, and in my case it was an attachment to the “kernel”. I was a middle child, and often felt unheard or overlooked. This created a pressure inside not only to have my view seen and heard, but for people to relate to it in the same way I did. This is precarious, and leads to endless spinning in the mind.

    Consider that we have a special place in the cosmos, with a unique and beautiful view. This makes our truths sacred and special! When and where those truths or “kernels” feel important, it is natural to wish to share them. However, those around us do not have the same view, the same unique mix of feelings and opinions, perceptions and observations. This means that it is very difficult to help them see exactly what we see, to know exactly what we know.

    So we have to be patient with them. We have to accept, realize and know that truth unfolds like the petals of a flower. We cannot rip a bud open, then petals just fall everywhere. Instead we nourish and pour, shine and smile. We introduce our ideas gently, with tenderness and understanding. If they don’t “get it” its not because they don’t care or are just stupid, its because all things, kernels and flowers, take time and attention to grow. That they relate back to “part of it” but not the “root” is unavoidable. Think of it as a spiral, where the words surrounding the kernel lead toward the center. With time and effort, sun and rain, the path is travelled inward. Said differently, it is normal to have to introduce a concept to someone multiple times before they understand you. Ignoring that only causes you suffering, it won’t help them see you any faster.

    With warmth,

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