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My ideas are constantly changing as I learn. Sometimes they even change midway through writing a post.

Sunday, January 4

A Happy and Assertive New Year

I found myself with an hour of quiet time this morning. I've been meaning to sit down and write out my resolutions and goals for the year.

I only had two real items for last year that I remember. The first was to quite Coca-Cola - my worst addiction. I decided that rather than try to quit my 1 to 3 bottles of coke a day habit, I would choose to only enjoy this habit on major paid holidays. While I didn't entirely succeed, I did reduce my usage by a pretty significant amount. Out of 365 days this year, I had a cola on less than half of them. I did the math on 1 coke a day  - in terms of $$ and sugar consumed (not to mention caffeine) and overall the change is pretty impressive. I consider my attempt a HUGE success. I have learned to think about food and drinks very differently and that could be even more of an accomplishment than the huge reduction in consumption. More on that in another post...

Aside from some specific things I would like to learn to do or stop doing, I usually I like to choose some sort of character quality that is weak and needs work.

For example, the last two years, I've worked on Assertiveness.

I am shy and a bit introverted. I can also be very talkative and friendly and even appear to be "outgoing". Even with people I know well, I have a habit of avoiding confrontations and generally failing to stand up for myself when it's most important to do so.

I find it difficult to approach strangers and sometimes even people I know but don't know well. Initiating a phone call can be even more difficult - I LOVE automated answering systems that help me get info I need without talking to a live person.

This has changed a bit over the last two years. I am more likely to pick up a phone and punch 0 to talk to a live person. I am more likely to set boundaries with other people. I am less willing to placate and "please" other people when they're demanding or asking for something unfair.

I find the most challenging situation is not the obvious blustering bully type. Such people have a tendency to irritate me just enough to get me to assert myself or remove myself from their sphere. It's the sweet, kindly, friendly seeming people who are most difficult to confront. I feel like an ogre refusing them anything. And yet, those are the people who drain my energy the most. They don't care that I have a million things on my plate or whether I'm barely making ends meet, they want my time and energy and money or to leave me handling responsibilities that really belong to them.

I'm starting to find myself feeling angry at this sort of "niceness." I am starting to feel suspicious of niceness. I'm starting to feel that the appearance of kindness and niceness is of a tool some people use to take advantage of others. Certainly more "pleasant" to be around than a bully and yet more frustrating and difficult to deal with in some ways. And yet, I realize that rather than blame people for using whatever tools they use to get what they want, all I really need to do is know and act on what I want. 

I like seeing people get what they want and enjoy that. I want that too (so long as it's not really hurting anyone else). In fact, I enjoy their enjoyment so much sometimes that I'll temporarily forget that it's not what I want for myself. Sometimes I don't realize I didn't want it 'till years later.

I think it's fine to care about people and help them, but there's something off about the way I've done it. I've started to realize that other people aren't going to fall apart if I don't do things for them, and sometimes they are even relieved that I did NOT sacrifice my own needs for theirs. In fact, I've been depriving many people a chance to do something for ME once in a while. Without meaning to, I've denied them an opportunity to be part of MY life. And sometimes people want a lot and get in the habit of accepting a lot of help and in the process start to lose confidence in their own abilities to help themselves. Sometimes, they even build up a certain amount of guilt about this  and know they don't really need help but aren't quite "strong" enough or confident in themselves to put a stop to it - turn it down. Heck, sometimes people can be a little lazy.

It's not a horrible failing, just a part of human nature that makes boundaries - protecting your own and others important. Almost everyone needs a little encouragement or firmness on the part of others to do the right thing.

This may seem like old news to many people, but it's new to me.

Now that I have a better understanding of what some of my obstacles are, I would like to set some new goals/resolutions. Some will be a more defined extension of the Assertiveness resolution. Others will be branching out in new areas. More on that to come..

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