Discover When It’s Perfect To Stand Your Ground
Women are taught to compromise their own wants, to put others first. Our wants are somehow wrong. It starts when we are small. We see these shiny silver things on top of the white thing and we reach for them…our mother grabs our hand and says, “NO! Hot!” In this case, NO is the smartest way to teach that what we want might hurt.
But then, you’re four. And you see a plate of cookies sitting on the table. Now, you’re a smart little girl – you know there is more ‘cookie’ in the big one than the little one, and so that’s the one you reach for. But then your mother grabs your hand and says, “NO!” again.
But this is where, at least for my generation, it all went wrong. “NO” was followed by, “you were going to take the big cookie and that means you’re selfish. Good girls always let everyone else take a cookie first. So you’re getting punished – you won’t get any cookies at all.” And then she gives that cookie you wanted to your little brother. And if he’s like most little tykes, he eats it in front of you, making your disappointment and shame even more palpable. And some mothers even compounded that by saying, “Besides, if girls eat cookies, they get fat. Do you want to get fat? No one likes a fat girl.” Somehow, boys never got fat on cookies and could have all they wanted, but thin girls were the girls who always said no, even when they wanted to say yes.
By the time we’re six or seven, we have been subliminally taught that what we want is wrong…it’s bad…we’re bad for wanting it…and if we dare to ask for what we want or say what we need, we will be punished and someone else will get what we wanted. That’s why most women in my practice, when they are asked what they want in a situation, sit mutely and then shake their head. “I don’t know. I really don’t.” And they mean it.
If any relationship is going to work, both parties need to be able to ask for what they want, without shame and without guilt. If you need one-on-one time with your spouse, say so. If you want to be part of a project, ask to be included. If you want to find a new career, start looking. And if someone says why you shouldn’t go for what you want, or ask for what you need, feel free to use two of my favorite phrases: Thank you for sharing. You may think that if you wish. And then stand your ground and go for what you want. You may not always get there, but at least you honored your desire to see if what you wanted was possible.
And if someone keeps telling you that their needs and wants are more important than yours – if they try to intimidate you, or guilt you, or manipulate you into saying or doing what you don’t want to do, then remember that NO Is A Fabulous Idea. You have a right to your “no” as much as to your “yes” – and if the world doesn’t understand that, stand in your truth until it does.