I tend to agonise over how my words are received by others, especially in the light of so many past misunderstandings. I am aware I suffer from ‘bitchy resting face’, an affliction which means I can look intensely pissed off, even when I’m actually quite happy on the inside. This has resulted in people flying off the handle at me, or squaring up to me aggressively, seemingly out of the blue and taken me quite unawares. My face seems to have a mind of its own and likes to lie to the world that I’m annoyed or miserable. This was bought home to me after a friend took some impromptu photos of our wedding reception – a lovely gesture, capturing some really candid and hilarious shots of the guests. The photos also caught me off guard, looking like I was furious and spoiling for a fight, when in fact I was enjoying what was the happiest day of my life up to that point. So I understand the problem other people have in interpreting what I’m thinking, but it doesn’t make it any easier when it comes to worrying about what they’re thinking. This problem, along with difficulties in setting boundaries due to the abuses mentioned in previous blog posts, has made standing up for myself a very anxiety-inducing process. I tend to wish everyone would just play nice, or never make mistakes, so I’d never need to confront them. This however is not how Wonder Woman would handle things (see the ‘defining myself’ blog post). So in the spirit of WWWWD (what would Wonder Woman do?) I need to step into bravery at times like this. Jocko Willink was asked ‘how do you step into bravery? His response was simply ‘step’. You don’t wait to feel brave, you just ‘step’ and that act is bravery.
To paraphrase Tom Bilyeu:
A lot of good, gentle, beautiful souls have the problem that when the time comes they don’t muster the force that’s required to get what they want. Sometimes bad things happen because they don’t stand up for themselves
When I started a mastermind group nearly 3 years ago, one of the early members constantly tried to compete with, and undermine me. Because I don’t like confrontation I found it quite hard to manage her overbearing manner, which led to her dominating the group meetings. It was my responsibility to deal with it, and I should have nipped things in the bud early on, but I let it slide, thinking I could just handle this by steering the meeting in a different direction. It was tough, especially as I was very ill at the time. The others in the group seemed to like her and I was worried that if I took a firmer stance with the difficult member, that the others would take her side and leave the group. I really liked the other members and didn’t want that to happen. Anyway, one day the difficult member was so rude and aggressive to me, I made the choice to cut her off – thrown out of the group and blocked permanently from every point online where she had access to me. I broke the news to the group, really expecting them to be critical of me and found that they were all so relieved as they’d only been tolerating her for my sake, thinking that I liked her. Some members had been on the point of quitting the group because they couldn’t take any more of her. I might have lost the group altogether because I didn’t muster the force required to deal with the situation before it got out of hand. Luckily the difficult member herself provided me with enough motivation to deal with it in the nick of time.
Most of us aren’t defeated in one decisive battle, we’re defeated one tiny seemingly insignificant surrender at a time, that chips away at who we should really be – Jocko Willink
I believe we have to choose our battles. We can’t fight every little thing that is wrong, or we’ll spend our whole lives running from crisis to crisis. That said, it is important that we don’t let the ‘little surrenders’ eat away at us. When the clowns come to town, we may let them stay in the vicinity, but we shouldn’t let them pitch their circus tent in our hearts or let them make us the stooge in their drama (see the blog posts ‘don’t let in the clowns’ and ‘getting from A to B’). Or as my husband often advises me, while adopting the character of a curmudgeonly old man, ‘don’t let the buggers grind you down’.
Coming next: Finding the eye of the storm