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Why is Defending Myself So Triggering?

Discussion in 'General' started by batgirl, Nov 26, 2007.

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  1. batgirl

    batgirl I'm a VIP

    I am still having a break, still not feeling great so I hope you guys don't mind if I don't answer any of your threads. I still am thinking about everyone here and hope you're all doing well but I just don't have the energy to comment or even read right now. I did want to ask a quick question though and hopefully get some feedback.

    Lately, online and in my "real" life, I have been practicing sticking up for myself and being assertive. I am nowhere near perfect at it, but I have been practicing a lot. If people say things I don't like or that hurt my feelings, I tell them so. If I can't do something or don't want to do it, I say no. If someone really insults me, like my Mum's cousin did a few weeks back, I tell them off. This is totally new to me, as previously I would simply "take it" from everyone and say nothing, try my best to ignore the person. Sometimes that would backfire, I'd stew about it for a long time and then get enraged and explode at them. But most of the time I wouldn't even do that, I'd just act all meek about it and feel like shit within myself.

    So it's good that I'm trying to defend myself right now. I know it's a step in the right direction. But even with all the support and encouragement I get from my family and from my friends here, I still wind up feeling really bad after I've been assertive or defended myself. It doesn't seem to matter how many people tell me I did the right thing, I still feel guilty. I feel bad that I hurt someone's feelings. I get really triggered. I was assertive in the chatroom on Saturday, and I'm still feeling like a bitch about that, even though I KNOW I did the right thing for myself. I guess I just don't understand why I feel so guilty and so triggered for trying to take care of myself.
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  3. hollyberry

    hollyberry Active Member

    hey batgirl, I hope your feeling better. I'm not sure if what happened in chat room was when I was in there. I was in a really bad place and really didn't know the rules(I'm new)But if you are talking about when I was in there. You didn't hurt my feelings. I'm beginning to understand that this is about taking care of ourselves.
    I can't be assertive at all, always worry about people abandoning me.
  4. 2quilt

    2quilt I'm a VIP

    Maybe you feel guilty because you are not used to standing up for yourself. You absorbed the other person's words all those years silently, and now, for the first time, you are expressing yourself, and those people are stunned to see it. And you are hearing from yourself for the first time, and while it feels good to express your feelings, it's so new! You are not certain how the other person will respond, and the unknown is scarey.
    Your feelings are valid and right and as long as you express them in a way that does not violate the other person's civil rights, then enjoy them. Over time, you will become more confident and sure of yourself, and the guilt will stop. Do you think that other person feels any guilt for telling you his or her feelings?
  5. Marlene

    Marlene I'm a VIP Premium Member

    2quilt...you hit it right on the head for me. For so many years I would just take and take and take. Telling people 'no...I'm not going to take this anymore' is so hard and so scary.

    What's funny is that I will defend someone to the point of physically putting myself in front of them if I feel like someone else is out of line. But doing the same thing for myself still feels...alien to me. Working on it, though.

    Evie, I think all of these new emotions take time to get used to. And when something new comes up, going back down a path that's known (even if it's not good for us) is an easier option. Sort of the devil you know vs. the devil you don't know. Hang in there, hon. It's a tough row for a lot of us to hoe.

  6. grace5555

    grace5555 Well-Known Member

    Hi, Evie,

    Sounds like we are both in a similar battle. I absolutely hate standing up for myself and the emotions that evokes. I was always punished for that before and it is really hard to do it now and I crumble after I've done it. I know it is what is needed - we must be able to stand up for ourselves, and hopefully...someday...it will be easier.

    Thinking about you,
  7. kers

    kers I'm a VIP

    Here's the thing I'm learning about being assertive to protect my needs: If I say no, or disagree, but do it politely, then it's not my fault if the person's feelings are hurt. I didn't do it intentionally, and I didn't try to hurt them personally, and I wasn't rude or disrespectful in what I said. Them being hurt--that's their own problem, not mine. If they are hurt, that is much more about their "stuff" than mine.

    I have found that often the people who get hurt when I politely say no and refuse to be cajoled into anything are, more than anything, ticked off that I'm not the same compliant, eager-to-please Kers that I have been for so long. They got used to being able to get me to do what they want or react in a way that suited them!
  8. Damiea

    Damiea Well-Known Member

    It might be that you care so much about people even when they say or do something to hurt you.. it tears you up inside knowing that you hurt them or even just thinking you did hurt them but not knowing. Then there comes some fear and anxiety on seeing them or talking to them again.. or even anyone who saw or knows what happened. You care how others view you even if they hurt you and you did something to hurt them.. even if it was the right thing to do. You also know first hand what it is like to have PTSD so it could be you hate causing more issues for others then they already have even if it is justified what you did. I don't think there is anything wrong with feeling guilty about something you said or did.. in fact it shows what a caring kind person you are even though you need to stand up for yourself. Hope you feel better soon!
  9. batgirl

    batgirl I'm a VIP

    Thanks everyone, your responses have been really helpful, I'm really glad I'm not alone in feeling this way. I talked to my dad about it today too, and he says it's a self-esteem issue as well. That I don't think enough of myself to defend myself or be assertive. He said the more I work on my self-confidence and love myself the less I will care what other people think. He's right, I really do care too much what other people think of me.

    Holly, I was just using the chatroom as an example, I've had several instances on the forum and in my real life where I've defended myself. The chatroom was the latest one. Thanks for sharing though, I'm glad to know you didn't have your feelings hurt.

    2quilt, you are so right, the unknown is scary and I haven't stuck up for myself for years, for sure not since the trauma. I worry that I'm being harsh, or overreacting, or that I'm wrong. But you are absolutely right, the other person, the one who's hurt me in the first place in a given situation, wasn't thinking about hurting my feelings! I never thought of that.

    Lisa, thanks, yes it would be so much easier to just ignore or internalize everything like I've always done. I've really struggled lately with telling people when I've been upset with them. It is new to me. It doesn't feel very good, even when others tell me it is good. It sure is hard to love yourself!

    Thanks Grace, sorry this is difficult for you as well. It seems it's extra difficult for you too as it's almost like a trigger?? That totally sucks. Hang in there, I am thinking about you too.

    Kers, thanks... that is so true... with my Mum's cousin for instance, she is so used to me being very polite and meek with her, and doing things for her without question. That is how I always was before, even when she hurt my feelings. I think she's just shocked that I'm not doing that anymore! She can't control me the way she used to and it obviously bugs her.

    Damiea, thanks for saying that. I do care about other people, I really do, I want the best for everyone, even people who piss me off. I try to pretend I don't care a lot of the time but it obviously isn't working. :p And yes I worry when I tell someone else with PTSD I am not happy with them. I worry that I am causing them extra grief they don't need.

    The part I still struggle a lot with though is whether or not I am being polite and respectful. I think sometimes I'm not. And this sounds dumb, but honestly, I don't always know how to gage that. I try to be respectful, people tell me I'm doing well, but I still worry that I've been rude or mean. I guess I still have a lot to work on. Thanks so much for the replies though you've all given stuff to think about.
  10. 2quilt

    2quilt I'm a VIP

    You see, everyone, the problem I have with PTSD sometimes in situations like this, is being aggressive, and not assertive. I will express myself in a "*#@uck You" I don't give a Damn about your feelings attitude, which is pure aggression and PTSD anger or thoughtlessness.
    Asserting myself, in a polite way, expressing my feelings in a fair manner, then letting the other person decide how to react, is far more healthy. What I am now learning in this journey is the difference between the two (aggressive and assertive) and how to NOT be so aggressive.
    Also, how should I react when someone behaves aggressively towards me? But that's another thread...
  11. anthony

    anthony Renovation Aficionado Founder

    Evie, I have a feeling though that maybe your confusing assertive with defending yourself! Please correct me though if I am reading this wrong. My interpretation of what you wrote is that you believe being assertive is to also defend yourself in "every" scenario. If that is correct, then that is not assertive, that is showing aggressive traits, not assertive.

    Assertive is a personality about what makes you feel best. Its not about attacking, its not about being a doormat, its not about defending yourself either; its about how you feel within yourself surrounding the decision you make at any given time and situation.

    For example; if someone says something too you that makes you feel bad, then to be assertive you would not defend yourself, you would simply assert to that person what they just said is incorrect as you see it, how that statement just made you feel and why it had that impact. To assert yourself is not to defend yourself, it is to simply relate how something makes you feel in order to find the best solution in order to make you feel good about yourself surrounding that situation / topic / discussion / etc.

    Often a person who defends themselves at every given moment that they feel offended is actually more an aggressive personality aspect, not assertive; because your trying to "defend" instead of "assert" your present feelings.

    If you said to me, "Anthony, your shit. I can't stand a thing you say, nor believe you have any idea what your talking about surrounding PTSD."

    Defensive response: I would quote my experience, learning, what I have achieved, etc etc.

    Aggressive response: I would use words to attack you during likely also combining defensive attributes.

    Passive response: I would say nothing, even agree with you, go away and feel absolutely terribly, telling myself I am no good etc etc; even though the majority tell me otherwise, you one person and your remarks would overrule all others. Passive typically comes with low self esteem.

    Assertive response: I am sorry you feel that way Evie. I know within myself my own abilities and self worth. What you said as a friend has hurt me, though what you say I do not believe within myself as I know better. Sorry you feel this way Evie, though that is your opinion and you are entitled to your opinion. Have a nice day.

    Now when I walk away from that, I feel no more pain nor remorse nor hatred or the like. I have asserted to yourself what your statement made me feel and what I know about myself, and regardless what you think or believe, that is only your opinion and your opinion is not reflective of my own self opinion. This is why assertive comes with healthy self esteem. That means when you go away from a situation there is no hurt hanging on, the words and feelings portrayed have slid off like I am covered in teflon.

    Now please feel free to correct me as this is only what I am reading into what your saying. I think maybe your just steering a little off course, though overall your definitely headed in the right direction. Kathy and Jim can certainly put you more on the right track, though the more you hone your skills the better you become at asserting your personality, not defending nor attacking as a result of it.
    Kathy likes this.
  12. batgirl

    batgirl I'm a VIP

    No that's okay Anthony, I think you're right actually. At least in the sense of, I am a bit confused, that's sort of why I started this thread. I used the word defending myself in my title rather than the word assertive because I'm not sure if defending myself is assertive or not. I guess it isn't?

    After reading your examples I feel even more confused about certain instances. I mean I know what it is to be assertive or aggressive when the issue is really black and white, and some of the issues I mentioned as examples in this thread, I know for a fact I was totally assertive or totally aggressive. I was assertive in the chatroom this weekend for example. I stated plainly what I was and wasn't capable of and I didn't attack anyone. I was aggressive in how I dealt with my Mum's cousin. She said she was embarrassed to be seen with me and I told her to go f herself and that she was a fat pig. Both instances I know 100% how I behaved. But it's the grey areas where I get really confused. Like for example, if someone makes a statement that hurts my feelings, and it's not a huge deal, but they've done it so many times that I'm getting fed up... and I've been assertive with them before and they still do it... what then? How should I react? Or if I feel like someone is crowding me or crossing my boundaries, but they're not really meaning to do it... like in my diary. This is where I have trouble. I guess maybe in my diary, it would have been more assertive to state beforehand, "please don't interrupt me while I'm working on issues"? Maybe I am being aggressive in some instances and that's why I feel so guilty? Anyways thanks, that gives me more to think about.
  13. anthony

    anthony Renovation Aficionado Founder

    Evie, don't beat yourself up over this as no person is perfect. Because I am discussing this, don't for a second think I don't stuff up this very thing also, because I do. I sometimes jump to aggressive with nic or another if my anxiety is already high, though recognition of that with apology for my actions comes back to self esteem and personality. Accept being wrong, apologize if wrong. If not, don't.

    When you reference dealing with someone that does something repeatedly and though you ask them not to, you then escalate that to being more assertive by expressing what they are doing gives you "x" feeling. It is not wrong to walk away, ignore or simply state to someone that you want little to do with them because they are being rude enough to not respect your feelings in the first place, your boundaries. That is not wrong. Going ape shit on them though only gives them what they are attempting to do in the first place, being to upset you and bring you to their negativity levels.

    Your right though Evie, black and white is easy, grey is not. That is constant work, not just by those with PTSD, generally those without are more ignorant than what we must learn to help maintain a healthy lifestyle and keep our stress levels low. This is what its about, being to keep our stress levels bare minimum due to the effects it has when increased.

    The point here is that you are doing something but then walk away and question yourself and/or feel bad over what you have just said or done. That means a problem exists. Either your not confident in your decision or you believe you did the wrong thing. Which ever it is, that is what you must identify and then work upon to improve. You can't fix it, because its not broken to begin with. You can choose to improve oneself through examining ourselves constantly. If you believe something you do is right then there should be no negative repercussions. If there are negative repercussions then you need to find why. Either the action or your self belief (self esteem / confidence).
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