Many’s the time I encounter clients with a very gentle philosophy. That philosophy amounts to: don’t harm others, and don’t inconvenience them if you can help it.
The problem is, sometimes those clients are living or working with people who don’t have the same philosophy. If you are with someone who feels it’s OK to tread on your rights to further theirs, then how do you stand up for yourself, while remaining true to your values?
Even the meekest people need to learn how to hold others accountable. This can cause a considerable amount of soul-searching and guilt, and that’s a good sign. That shows that it’s not taken lightly, and that the person only wants to be minimal in their standing up for themselves. But the fact remains that it’s wise to be able to act freely, without fear.
- Think of a situation in which someone, or the fear of someone, has persistently ignored or overridden your freedom to think, move, decide, act, or express yourself in your own way.
- Analyse your own behaviour. Did you bottle up your response until the situation was unbearable, and only then fired a salvo? Or are you still bottling up your response?
- What do you fear would happen if you expressed yourself, and acted, as you wish to?
- Have a go at a small amount of action and expression, and test the waters to see what happens.
- If you still feel OK, gently increase your self-expression. Notice whether or not your feared outcome has happened. If not, take your freedom to the level at which you feel you are fully expressive.
This is a type of experiment normal to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. We are testing our fears by acting in a controlled setting. It can teach us, by repeated intentional action, to discover that we are more free than we think.