People will fight to keep you down.
Standing up for Myself
One of the difficulties that I’ve experienced having a fear of anger is dealing with people that don’t like it when you suddenly start to stand up for yourself, say no and do what’s best for you.
Again because of my fear of anger I was a nice guy, or codependent if you like and so being a people pleaser meant that I would go along with the wishes of whoever I was with, so that they would like me because ultimately I was afraid of any kind of confrontation or anger.
The problem with that though, as I’ve said in other posts, is that I started to become very resentful. I mean if I’m always doing what everybody else wants and feeling like I can’t ever do or say what I want to do then of course it’s going to build and build up inside of me until one day I just can’t take it anymore.
The problem with waiting until that happens is either I explode and unleash my resentment onto somebody, or I passively aggressively avoid them and walk away, and/or I feel a lot of the tension and stress that builds up in my body. But again the reason I am that way, or at least was that way, with other people is because it feels a lot safer to keep your head down and do what others want rather than say what you want to say and risk people getting angry.
Of course I couldn’t take that for too long and so a few years ago, or maybe a little more than that, I started to slowly learn to assert myself in the millions of ways that that could happen in daily life.
Beginning to Change
It’s incredible actually. There are so many different ways of expressing yourself, in a calm assertive manner and I didn’t even realize it. For example the way I walk; do I yield to people who are oncoming too quickly, do I smile at them meekly, do I not want to take up too much space on the sidewalk etc. ?
So yes, I did start to slowly assert myself, and get my needs met and I noticed that people didn’t like that very much. People were used to me being the way I was because it was a great advantage to them. They liked the fact that they got to decide where we went, what we watched, what we discussed, what was an acceptable topic to talk about and when we saw each other etc.
It was a great deal for them. Imagine having somebody at your disposal who will do almost anything you want them to do?
We have a name for a person like that and it’s called a slave.
So of course when I started cultivating my voice, they weren’t be too happy about it. After all they are now starting to lose out on some of the benefits that they used to enjoy. Things are not going to go the way they want things to go a hundred percent of the time anymore. They don’t have somebody at their disposable to give them a lift, or help them move, or be there for them whenever they needed.
And they made sure to communicate that to me in a few different ways. The main one of course was to somehow make me feel like I was no longer as “good” as I used to be before.
“You used to be such a nice guy!”
“You are different now. Before, you know, you used to be all relaxed, easy going and everything and now you just seem like, very angry, and a bit more tense and like you’re trying to stir up trouble or something and I don’t really like that.”
What they’re saying is that they much preferred it when I was a slave without actually saying that. They can’t say they liked it better when I was a slave because that would expose the relationship that we had, and also expose their part that they played in it. The fact that they took advantage of me and used somebody else who didn’t feel strong enough for their own personal gain – that is something people don’t want to see in themselves. So they spoke around the issue.
They also used guilt to try to manipulate me back into the character I used to be, where I was submissive and clamped down and not really speaking up for what I wanted or allowing mmy own voice to be heard in order to negotiate the relationship.
The guilt is,”You used to be good and now that you have this assertiveness you’re bad. So don’t stick up for yourself, don’t do what’s best for you and drop the healthy anger that you’re starting to cultivate for yourself because if you do I’m going to say you are bad and I know intuitively that you count on my validation to feel good about yourself and so I’m going to label you as somebody who is bad and judge you as such.”
That’s how I experienced people, from family members to friends to coworkers to acquaintances etc.
I was afraid that they would not be my friend anymore, I was afraid that they would tell other people and those other people would not be my friend anymore, and then I was afraid that aside from them, other people still would have the same reaction when I stood up for myself. And then finally my anxious mind led me to do the apocalyptic scene that nobody in the world would ever get along with me or like me if I became who I was.
And what made it seem real is the fact that maybe half of the people in this world WILL actually stop being my friend, or will take on a bad view of me, or leave the relationship, and so that just reinforced the idea that nobody will ever be my friend or have anything to do with me if I decide to finally stick up for myself.
They Fight Hard
Something else I noticed about these people is that they would test me, and fight a lot harder with me to kind of, you know, hit me over the head and put me back in my place, thnn they would with somebody else.
Because they were used to me being unassertive and weaker minded (and not wanting to lose an asset) they fought as hard as they could, using guilt and passive-aggressive manipulation, to keep me down. They wouldn’t have faught this hard with anybody else, or they just wouldn’t fight period with another person because that other person would fight back.
With another person my friends would be a lot nicer because they know that they couldn’t get away with anything, with these new people who were probably a bit stronger minded, and not going to take any BS.
That used to make my blood boil – take advantage of me because you can. Until I realized that I was enabling this relationship by being the way I was and that the way out is just to go through the pain and discomfort that comes with psychological growth. In this case that means standing up for myself, saying what I want to say, feeling the anxiety and stress, and continuing on.
I’d then have to tell my friends that I’d like a new deal in the relationship, and that I had some resentments about them in the way they were in the old relationship. Depending on how they respond, some of them will remain my friends and some (who wish to continue in the old pattern and won’t let it go) will not.
I always have to remind myself that I allowed all of these relationships to happen, even if they were unconsciously built much of the time. And that it’s up to me now to go through all of the fear and discomfort to get myself to a new place psychologically, where it’s automatic for me to put myself first and build a true friendship with somebody else.
Easier said than done of course, but this is how I learn to validate myself rather than relying on others who will always have conditions on receiving their validation.
*** If you’re going through something similar then I hope this helped. If you are, I invite you to share it with me and everybody else who visits here by typing it up and emailing it over. I’ll post it on the blog which would benefit everyone; you for writing it up – which gets you in touch with your unconscious more and with this issue of yours specifically – and us for relating with it and perhaps seeing our own issue from a different angle.
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