The Note

I was thumbing through the class listings at our  local community College this morning.    Took me back in time to a class I attended   just after we moved back to Iowa from the East Coast.

I’d done some trim work for a young stewardess shortly before we moved and she owed me about $200. I’d called her a couple of times asking if she would send me a check before we relocated…

The check never came…

Shortly after we moved back,  a course on assertive communication caught my eye.

The inability to collect that bill  was one small example of a problem that touched multiple areas of my life.

Complicating my inability to be assertive were some  erroneous ideas on how the faith component of my life applied in certain situations….

“Turn the other cheek,  if someone asks for your shirt, give him your coat as well.”

And then there were verses about “dying to yourself” etc. etc.

If you’ve never run in Christian circles this stuff will probably sound far out there….but if you have, you know what I’m talking about.

Running around with half cocked ideas on what the Almighty expected of me, compounded by a people pleasing bent, and a serious case of low self esteem…

I was  a walking door mat.

And I was tired of it.


There were 13 or  14 of us at the workshop. All but two  were women. We covered  “The Assertiveness Bill Of Rights“, we roll played, worked on handouts, we laughed. (Did lots of laughing as I recall) 😉

You’re talking about reprogramming some very deeply ingrained negative  thought patterns when you  address issues like this, and those changes do not happen over night.

I came home  with several seeds planted in my soul knowing this stuff might take time to take root and get established .

To be assertive is not to be obnoxious nor aggressive.  It is living your life with new  (and more) options.

We talked about how to deal with  customer service, how to recognizing when someone is  manipulating you  through intimidation, fear, etc.

I learned I have the right to say “No. No thank you. Thanks but no thanks.”

I have the right to change my mind.

I learned the difference between assertiveness and aggressiveness which are two totally different behaviors.

They are totally different behaviors.

I had a light bulb moment when I realized someone in my life had been using aggressive, manipulative, shaming behavior for years to control me (and others) at work.   And once I realized it for what it was, I was free to say “Enough!”

It took multiple confrontations before they realized their mind games no longer worked on me.

You already probably know this but just in case you need a gentle reminder…

Living in situations where you are bullied and controlled by an aggressive person can  result in depression, and a host of medical issues.

A local Doctor told someone I know that the long term  stress  of their job was definitely aggravating their  diabetes.

Another family member was told by his Dr. that their diagnosis of colon cancer was very probably connected to the stress in his life from years of dealing with an out of control teen.

Came home from that workshop, wrote a nice but firm note along with another invoice to my client in New Jersey. I thanked her for the work, but wanted her to know  that from here on out, I was going to be charging her 18% interest on the unpaid balance..

I got a check the next week.




5 thoughts on “The Note

  1. I love this post…right on. There are lots of reasons we roll over, but I have a “gift.” I took an assertiveness training class in the 70s and learned simple phrases I still practice, but I realize I still have a lot to learn. I’m trying to figure out how to get out of a 20-year friendship because of her shaming language toward me and a seeming inability to deal straight with me. I’ve had the worst stomach ache for six weeks.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes. Assertiveness vs. aggressiveness. I use this one all the time in my therapeutic work with kids and horses. It’s so important. It took me a long time too to start to understand that one. It’s an ongoing battle.

    Liked by 1 person

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