That Empowering Feeling of Saying “No!”

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Saying “no” can be difficult and at times, even downright scary. Like when bullies are trying to force you to do something you don’t want to do.  You know the feeling when they threaten either physical harm or worse social exclusion if you don’t do what they want you to do. I know the feeling because I’ve been there.

Nobody wants to get hurt. The natural human response is to submit and make the pain, torment, or the threat of, stop. In your mind, you’re thinking, “Alright, alright! I’ll do it if you’ll go away and leave me alone!” I get that because it’s what I did. I submitted to my bullies many times, too many times. I fell for the false promises that they would let me be and stop hurting me. But-

Saying yes to them meant saying no to myself.

They never made good on those promises. The harassment didn’t stop. If anything, it only got worse! Anytime I did say no, I got threatened and yes, even physically attacked.

Saying no to a bully is never an easy option. Bullies don’t take no for an answer, least of all from their targets! However, not only is it necessary, but it feels darn good sometimes!
If I knew then what I know now, I would’ve said the word “no” a lot more than I did. I wouldn’t have cared about the retaliation I might have faced. Unless one of my bullies had done something drastic, like pulled a gun, I’d have stood firm.

In no way would I advice anyone to risk their life. If someone pulls a gun on me, I will do what I must do to stay alive! I’ll do what he wants and tell him what he wants to hear. I’ll dance a jig wearing fluorescent orange and white polka-dotted bell bottoms if it keeps me from dying!

I’ll grant you, saying no is risky.

But if they only threaten me with the business end of their fists, I know I’m only going to come out of it with a shiner and a fat lip. In a situation like that, it’s much safer to say no. Those wounds will heal. But the psychological injury of wishing I hadn’t let myself down will last for years.

However, if you do choose physical safety first, I want you to know that you’re not wrong for that. In no way will I ever think less of you if you submit to your bullies’ demands. As I mentioned earlier, a natural reaction is to obey to keep from being harmed.

And the winner is...

Today, I say that little two-letter word a lot more and will continue to say it in the future. It doesn’t matter what people say, how they feel about it or what they do. I would much rather get the crap kicked out of me and still feel good about myself for taking a stand. Today, I’d rather take a beating than to cave under pressure.  I’m funny about letting myself down by doing something I didn’t want to do. To me, that’s worse than getting my butt kicked! But that’s just me.

Many times, I let myself down by saying yes.

My physical wounds healed. But knowing I let someone else force me to do something I neither wanted to nor agreed to, left a psychological injury that took a long time to recover from. I ended up asking myself, “Now, why didn’t I tell those creeps to take a flying leap off the highest cliff head first?” That feeling of powerlessness was worse than the physical pain I would have suffered.

So, permit yourself to say that tiny little word because it can be so empowering! You may indeed get your tail kicked, but at least you’ll feel good knowing you got hurt because you stood for something! Those psychological benefits will significantly outweigh the embarrassment of any beat down! Besides, you forced a bully to do something foolish and which will likely get him in trouble with an adult or the law! So, I ask you! Who’s the real winner here?

With knowledge comes empowerment!

Reasons You Should Never Be Afraid of Conflict

Let’s face it. Conflict is a part of life and something we all encounter at many points in our lives. Many targets and survivors of bullying are deathly afraid of conflict. Why? Because they’ve had so much of it forced on them in the past by bullies who just refused to let them be. Also, many targets and survivors are traumatized by the bullying they presently suffer or from past bullying.

Understand that these poor souls haven’t yet dealt with the hurts they still have, and they don’t yet know their worth and the good they deserve. Many targets and survivors of bullying suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Because of this, they’re still stuck in survival mode.

As a result, target’s cave in and give in to bullies to appease them just so they’ll shut the hell up and go away. And people do get tired of hearing self-entitled and self-indulgent bullies bitch, rant, and beat their chests when they don’t get their way.

So, the unspoken message is, “Look! Just take what you want and get lost!”

I can understand why targets and survivors end up being this way. It’s because a person gets exhausted when they’re constantly have to battle and struggle to take back their autonomy, their self-determination, their personal power, their safety, their dignity, and their right to exist. They get worn down, they get weary, and all they want is for people to leave them alone and let them have some peace.

However, this can become a problem. If you go out of your way to avoid conflict, people will soon mistake you for being weak and they’ll walk all over you. You must set boundaries. There are times when you must say no. There are even times when you may have to show your ugly side to get your point across and let people know that no means no and enough is enough.

Understand that this requires guts. It means you must step out of your comfort zone and take risks. You must risk hurting others’ feelings and making people angry. You must risk being lashed out at and retaliated against. Moreover, you must also risk losing relationships and no, none of it feels good.

In short, you must stand up for yourself and that means facing conflict.

Think of it this way, if you’re a target of bullying, you’re going to face conflict no matter what because people will bring the conflict to you. Hiding from it does no good because it will eventually find you. When you are a target of bullying, conflict is unavoidable and certain.

In other words, run from conflict and you’ll end up running from it for the rest of your life!

So, why not face it head on, better yet embrace it and stand up to people, then you can feel better about yourself later knowing that you finally grew a spine and told them where to shove it. You may face retaliation for it, but you would face it anyway because, right or wrong, bullies will always find some justification for attacking you.

With knowledge comes empowerment!

2 Ways Bullies Search for and Groom Potential Targets

When bullies search for targets to bully and think they’ve spotted a potential, they will groom the potential target to test the waters and see if the person is an easy target. They groom you before the actual bullying starts.

The grooming techniques may occur only once or numerous times. So, how do bullies groom targets? They do it by deliberately using subtle behaviors to see how the person reacts. They will then cunningly and ever-so-carefully observe every word the target says and everything he/she does to assess whether they’re the right person with whom to toy with and establish a bullying dynamic.

Bullies prefer those who have low self-esteem and who are afraid of conflict because it is those people who have difficulty asserting themselves and standing up to bullying behavior.

Portrait of young Asian man making telescope gesture with his hands, shocked surprised gesture, looking far away concept

When bullies groom a potential target, their behavior toward the person can be either subtle and confusing or direct and obvious. But however the behavior presents itself, the bully has only one goal- to closely observe how the PT (potential target) reacts.

When bullies decide whether the PT is the right person to target for bullying and abuse, they use these criteria:

1. How the PT responds to their behavior.

2. Whether they respond confidently or uncomfortably.

3. Whether the PT sends back a clear message that they’re not intimidated nor confused and that they can take care of themselves.

For example, a kid is new at the school. A few classmates shove him or subtly insult him, then watch and assess him closely to see what his reaction will be. If the PT catches the attack and calls it out confidently, letting the bullies know that he’s onto them and that he won’t hesitate to defend himself, it’s likely that the bullies will leave him alone and go search for another target.

But if the PT gets confused or intimidated, chances are likely that the bullies will select him to bully because they’ll get the message that he’s afraid of them. Also, if the PT ignores the subtle digs and says nothing, the bullies may assume that he’s afraid and will also select him as a target. If the subtle behavior goes over the PT’s head, the bullies will also continue to bully him because they’ll sense the PT didn’t understand what they were saying or doing to him.

Bullies are like sharks who search for any sign of prey and the way sharks spot prey is to smell blood in the water. Your confusion, fear, self-guilt, and timidity are to bullies as blood is to sharks, signaling that you’re ripe for abuse.

So how exactly do bullies groom you if they see you as a potential?

1. They use dismissive, coercive, or aggressive behavior against them without warning. This is designed to throw you off-balance make you feel threatened. What the bullies want is for you to be stunned into silence or to acquiesce. And if they’re successful in throwing you off and intimidating you, their assessment of you will be that it’s safe to undermine your confidence, intelligence, abilities, and reputation.

2. They turn hot and cold toward you. They will be warm and friendly to you one day, then vicious and hostile towards you the next. You’ll never know when you’ll get the friendly version of these people or the hostile and hateful version.

You won’t know what to expect from these people and you’ll feel as if you must tip toe around them. They’ll have you walking on eggshells and waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Again, this is well-thought out in advance, and it’s designed to bewilder and confuse you. They want you to be stunned and they want you to be flabbergasted!

And once you’re off-balance and unsure of yourself, the bullies gain the upper hand. But if you respond angrily then the bullies will come back and escalate the altercation and use your angry response to paint you as the villain. That’s why you should avoid responding in anger.

Understand that the surprise attack is put together in such a way that you don’t take the initiative because the bullies want you to think that you’re somehow at fault. They want to make you feel responsible for their atrocious behavior. You’re not. So, don’t accept it because they’ll only use this as an opportunity to take away your personal power and wrest complete control over you.

This is a very manipulative trick they’re pulling on you to back you into a psychological corner. It’s to make you feel powerless and that you don’t have any other choice but to take their crap. And the more powerless you feel, the better the bullies feel because they want to establish that bully/target relationship with you, where you accept their bullying and abuse. These bullies want you to accept it to such an extent that you think you deserve it.

You don’t deserve it. No one deserves to be bullied and you have every right to stand up to them if they get out of line with you. And knowing this information is your first step in having the confidence to stand up to these people.

If you ever find that you’re being groomed and assessed for bullying, now is the time to assert your right to be safe and not to be attacked. Don’t wait. Now is the time to stand up to them because, if you wait, the bullies will quickly become comfortable with violating you and by then, it will be much harder to stand up to them.

With knowledge comes empowerment!

11 Reasons It’s So Hard to Say “No” When You Need to (Part 3)

(…continued from part 2)

9. We give in to the threats and demands of bullies and abusers. Unfortunately, some people won’t take no for an answer. Bullies and abusers are such people. These types will move Heaven and Earth to manipulate you into feeling obligated and saying yes to them. They will try things, such as”

1. Screaming and yelling at you.

2. Calling you names like:

“selfish”

“greedy”

“mean”

“crazy”

“arrogant”

“bitch”

“asshole”

And the list goes on…

1. Cursing you out

2. Threatening physical harm

3. Hurling insults

4. Humiliating you in front of others

5. Ostracizing you

6. Giving you the silent treatment

Understand that these people use these evil tactics to punish you or to make you cave into their demands. They also do this to make you feel guilty, embarrassed, or afraid, in hopes that you’ll give up and give in to get them to stop abusing you. But please, for your sake, don’t’ cave in!

You must realize that, if you give into the bullies’ demands, you’ll only quell their hostility temporarily because, sooner or later, bullies always come back for more and thus, these incidences will become a pattern.

There’s one thing I want you to know right now. Bullies and abusers aren’t dumb. They know exactly what they’re doing. Believe me when I say that your bullies are fully aware that they’re trying to manipulate you. They know good and well that they’re being abusive and yes, they also know that what they’re doing is wrong.

Never think for one moment that these bullies don’t realize what they’re doing!

As long as you remember this, it will give you the confidence, courage, and resilience to stand firm against this atrocious behavior, call it out for what it is, and hold your position.

Better yet, you will be less likely to feel shamed, humiliated, fearful, or guilty. You’ll see the bully’s behavior as a reflection of their cowardice, insecurity, and desperation and this alone will make it easier to stand your ground.

10. We’re afraid of conflict. Many people are deathly afraid of conflict. Targets and most survivors of bullying are especially so because they’ve had so much conflict forced into their lives. And they will make a complete about-face when they detect even the slightest scent of it.

I shamefully admit that I become one of these people for a while in my twenties. However, I soon came to realize that conflict is a part of life, and many times cannot be avoided. There are times when conflict will seem to hunt you down like a hungry wolf. In other words, conflict is something we will all face at some points in our lives. It is certain. This is why we must learn to be assertive and say no to people when we need to.

Sadly, for many of those who have this fear, giving into others is a quick and easy fix. Any time the other person shows signs of becoming angry or frustrated when the pleaser can’t be available right that second, they’ll try to assuage the other person. They retract statements, change their minds, and acquiesce.

Pleasers believe that surrendering to the demands of another is safer (easier) than standing their ground, and they immediately cave in to avoid conflict.

11. Saying yes to everything and everyone become a habit. Many people have been conditioned to people-please and the longer they do it, the more entrenched it becomes until it becomes instinct. In other words, our brains continue to develop more neural pathways for people-pleasing until we become wired to do it and it’s an automatic response. As a result, we do it without even thinking about it, nor realizing it. Realize that for some, people-pleasing is a learned response, and it stems from many factors.

These 11 things are the roots of our apprehension amd the best way to solve any issue is to get to the roots of it. If you know why you have a hard time saying no, you’re more likely to know what to do to change it.

With knowledge comes empowerment!

11 Reasons It’s So Hard to Say “No” When You Need to (Part 2)

(…continued from part 1)

5. You waste so much of your time, which is time better spent with your family, closest friends, and loved ones. Or it could be time better spent studying your lessons, working on your own pursuits and hobbies, or resting. There are only 24 hours in a day and if you’re constantly prioritizing others first, your needs will take a back seat and you won’t have time left for yourself and the people who matter most.

Self-care is never selfish. It’s essential! It’s a necessity! Realize that you’ll never be able to please everyone, but that’s okay. So, be okay with it.

Be prepared for some people to call you “selfish” when they hear the word no come out of your mouth. But again. Remember that you’re not responsible for the way they feel or for their problems.

6. We want to help others because it’s rewarding. This is normal and there’s nothing wrong with it. Helping others makes us feel good and has huge heart-rewards. For example, when we help our family members and friends, it shows them that we love them, and we care about their happiness and well-being. When we help total strangers, we do it because we care for our fellow man. That feels great!

The problem comes in when we’re so busy taking care of others that we don’t have time to take care of ourselves. When it reaches this point, life can get stressful and overwhelming. Also, bullies, users, and abusers will take notice and try to exploit our generosity, taking our kindness for being weak and dumb.

These are things we much watch out for.

Realize that you only have so much of these commodities. Use them wisely and don’t waste any of them on people don’t deserve them or haven’t earned them (i.e. bullies, abusers, anyone who takes you for granted).

7. We have low-self-esteem. When we have a low self-image, we are under the false assumption that our time, energy, and resources aren’t worth as much as those of others. We believe that we’re inferior to everyone else. Therefore, we quickly say yes to others, even those who give ridiculous demands, when we should say no.

Many times, we bend over backwards to prove our value. But worth is something we should never prove to anyone. It is something that’s either there, or it isn’t.

In other words, if you’re a good person, you have value. And if you have value, it’s already there and there’s no need to turn somersaults for people.

Here’s another thing. Saying no will actually raise your self-esteem and the more you say it, the higher it will rise until you realize that you’re just as good as everyone else and that your time, your energy, your pursuits, and your dreams are just as important as everyone else’s.

8. We want approval and to be liked by others. Wanting to be liked and approved of is a natural human desire that’s hardwired in all of us. It’s how we make friends, connections, and allies. It’s also how we nurture our relationships with family and those we love. We try to relate to and find commonality with others to get accepted.

Many times, this is why we say yes even when we’re better off saying no. Understand that, though you may get approval from others if you’re a yes-person, that approval will be short lived. Because people always come back for more and there will be times when something comes up and you won’t be available for them. Then what?

Realize that keeping your self-esteem and self-respect is worth a hell of a lot more than getting anyone’s approval. And trust me, any approval that has the fine print of conditions tagged onto it is not the type of approval you want.

(Continued in part 3…)

11 Reasons It’s So Hard to Say “No” When You Need to

“No” is such a tiny word but has huge power behind it. It can be intimidating to both say to someone and get for an answer. Targets of bullying especially have a difficult time saying no to people because they’ve been bullied into saying yes for so long that they’ve become programmed. However, many people who aren’t bullied and never have been also have a hard time telling others no. Why is that?

There are many reasons:

1.Many of us were raised to believe that saying no is self-centered, rude, and disrespectful. As children, we were often forced to say yes and go against our own rights and feelings, or risk being punished by adults. We were taught to obey, to comply, or to acquiesce, “or else.” Many of us were taught that as children while we were growing up.

We automatically owed anyone over the age of eighteen respect and it didn’t matter if the adult in question was being fair or not. It didn’t matter if they were self-serving and out to harm us. Just by virtue of being adults, we “owed” them respect simply because they’d lived on this good earth longer than us. We were made to believe we were obligated to give respect to any adult no matter how lowdown and creepy that adult may have been.

Sadly, we get conditioned this way and grow into spineless, submissive adults who get used and abused by our partners, family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers because all our lives, we’ve been duped into believing that saying yes to everything everyone asks (or demands) of us means that we’re “good people”- that being agreeable one hundred percent of the time shows that we’re being “respectful” and that we have “a good attitude.”

Only we end up learned the hard way that it’s the exact opposite- what it really means is that we become suck-ups, kiss-butts, and wusses.

Saying no means setting boundaries and if we don’t set boundaries, we only end up with self-esteem that was never given the chance to develop properly and we place ourselves at the mercy of bad people.

2. We’re afraid of offending people. Let’s face it, people, especially bullies and abusers, often become offended with things which aren’t necessarily offensive. Understand that some people, especially bullies, abusers, narcissists, and psychopaths, hate being told no and will become infuriated. So, be prepared.

They will lay guilt trips on you and tell you what a rude and selfish person you are, and you will most likely even feel pangs of guilt and feel as if you’ve done something wrong. But don’t you believe it! See the person’s behavior for what it is- emotional manipulation.

Realize that the offense these people take comes from insecurity and the feeling if being rejected. This is why they take being told “no” so personally. Realize that any indignation or anger the other person feels and displays is neither your responsibility nor is it your problem.

3. We’re afraid of letting other people down. This is understandable. No one who’s a decent person and worth their salt want to let down another human being. However, if you don’t save a little time, energy, and resources for yourself, there will be nothing left for you. Constantly putting your needs and priorities on the back burner isn’t healthy at all.

4. We’re afraid of being thought of as selfish. Most people care what others think and many, perhaps, a little too much. Although it’s normal to desire to be thought of as a good, decent, and caring person, too many people feel they must bend over backwards to prove it. This kind of thinking is unhealthy. It reeks of desperation and only attracts users and abusers who’ll only bleed you dry of time, energy, resources, and self-esteem.

Remember the verse in the song, “Self-Esteem” by The Offspring? The verse that quotes, “the more you suffer, the more it shows you really care…yeeah…”

Nooo! What it does is puts others under the impression that you’re a simp.

(continued in part 2…)

What is the Difference Between Assertiveness and Aggressiveness?

It amazes me how many people confuse the two. Many are under the false impression that bullies are assertive, when, in fact, they’re aggressive- too aggressive. So, how do we know the difference?

Here’s how:

1.Assertiveness is confident and respectful. It is never disrespectful, arrogant, or overbearing. When you’re being assertive, your state your case in a calm, cool, and confident manner, while, at the same time, being respectful of other’s different perspectives.

Aggressiveness is forceful and hostile. It’s abusive and it reeks of insecurity and unspoken fear of being ineffective and that the aggressor won’t succeed in getting what they want. When a person is being aggressive, they are dismissive, abusive, and threatening. They instill fear to get what they want because without the injection of fear, they’d be ineffective and irrelevant.

2. People who are assertive take time to listen. They listen to the other person before sharing a differing opinion.

People who are aggressive dominate conversations. These people only interrupt the other person and speak over them. They will even shout the other person down sometimes threatening harm to them if they don’t “shut up.” They will also undermine the other person’s ideas and belittle them with ad hominem (personal) attacks and name-calling.

3. When someone is too loud, an assertive person will ask the person to lower their voice so they can sleep, rest, enjoy a movie, hear their favorite song, etc.

An aggressive person, one the other hand, will demand that the other party “shut the hell up” and threaten physical violence if the person refuses to comply.

4. If an assertive person is in a McDonalds and gets fries that are cold and stale, they’ll explain the problem and ask for fries that are hot and fresh.

An aggressive person will only belittle the fast-food worker and demand hot fries with a threatening look. Some aggressive people might even climb over the counter and try to physically attack the person.

5. If an assertive person is asked for help, they will politely decline.

An aggressive person will shout a rude, “NO!” They will then berate the other person for having the audacity to ask for help.

You get the point.

Assertiveness is mindful and an assertive response is carefully thought out.

Aggressiveness is abusive and brutal.

The assertive person is confident, reasonable, and empathic. Whereas the aggressive person is unreasonable, self-serving, arrogant, loud, and highly opinionated.

Understand that being aggressive is unnecessary but being assertive is essential because if you aren’t assertive, people will only lose respect for you and use you as a doormat. That’s not good either.

You get so much more out of being assertive than you ever will being aggressive because being aggressive puts others on the defensive and will cause them to become resistant. But being assertive puts others at ease and makes them more likely want to fulfill your requests.

Bullies are aggressive.

Confident and healthy people are assertive.

So, be assertive but don’t be aggressive.

This is not to say that being assertive works one hundred percent of the time. There will be times you will run into self-entitled bullies, narcissists, and psychopaths who will rebuff assertiveness and even retaliate against you for your honesty. But most people will respect you for it.

Again, be assertive but never aggressive.

With knowledge comes empowerment!

You Should Never Be Afraid of Conflict

Let’s face it. Conflict is a part of life and something we all encounter at many points in our lives. Many targets and survivors of bullying are deathly afraid of conflict. Why? Because they’ve had so much of it forced on them in the past by bullies who just refused to let them be. Also, many targets and survivors are traumatized by the bullying they presently suffer or from past bullying.

Understand that these poor souls haven’t yet dealt with the hurts they still have, and they don’t yet know their worth and the good they deserve. Many targets and survivors of bullying suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Because of this, they’re still stuck in survival mode.

As a result, target’s cave in and give in to bullies to appease them just so they’ll shut the hell up and go away. And people do get tired of hearing self-entitled and self-indulgent bullies bitch, rant, and beat their chests when they don’t get their way.

So, the unspoken message is, “Look! Just take what you want and get lost!”

I can understand why targets and survivors end up being this way. It’s because a person gets exhausted when they’re constantly have to battle and struggle to take back their autonomy, their self-determination, their personal power, their safety, their dignity, and their right to exist. They get worn down, they get weary, and all they want is for people to leave them alone and let them have some peace.

However, this can become a problem. If you go out of your way to avoid conflict, people will soon mistake you for being weak and they’ll walk all over you. You must set boundaries. There are times when you must say no. There are even times when you may have to show your ugly side to get your point across and let people know that no means no and enough is enough.

Understand that this requires guts. It means you must step out of your comfort zone and take risks. You must risk hurting others’ feelings and making people angry. You must risk being lashed out at and retaliated against. Moreover, you must also risk losing relationships and no, none of it feels good.

In short, you must stand up for yourself and that means facing conflict.

Think of it this way, if you’re a target of bullying, you’re going to face conflict no matter what because people will bring the conflict to you. Hiding from it does no good because it will eventually find you. When you are a target of bullying, conflict is unavoidable and certain.

In other words, run from conflict and you’ll end up running from it for the rest of your life!

So, why not face it head on, better yet embrace it and stand up to people, then you can feel better about yourself later knowing that you finally grew a spine and told them where to shove it. You may face retaliation for it, but you would face it anyway because, right or wrong, bullies will always find some justification for attacking you.