Help me understand my emotional responses.
April 2, 2011 11:58 AM Subscribe
How do I chill out about other people respecting me?
posted by anonymous to human relations (19 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I have put off writing this question for a long time, because I am not sure how to formulate it, since I am not sure I fully understand it myself. Please excuse me if this is hard to understand.
I think of myself as a fairly accomodating person, and after a bad first relationship a few years ago, started to worry that maybe I was too easy going “nice” and letting people walk all over me. I don’t know if this self-perception is even the least bit accurate: I have been described plenty of times as stubborn. In reaction to feeling like a pushover, I think I may have begun acting like the extreme opposite, and become far too unyielding and inflexible.
Examples: 1) I lived with my friend in NYC for a few months about a year ago, and we shared a bed. She also had an empty bed in the living room, and, since she had a hard time sleeping with two people in a bed, wanted me to sleep there sometimes. I refused, and was basically thinking ‘I am not going to let her take advantage of me.’ In retrospect this seems like a stupid thing to dig my heels in about. 2) One of my 9th grade students has a birthday on Tuesday. She asked if we could cook in class (which we did last week) and I said no, but I would bring cupcakes in for the class. Briefly afterward I felt like that was being “too nice.” 3) I dated a guy about a year and a half ago who didn’t have a car. I would go pick him up, but I worried if I was encouraging him to take advantage of me. 4) One of my 9th grade students was handing out stickers for a school event and pretended like he was going to give me one, then snatched it away. I laughed it off but on the inside I was thinking, “He doesn’t respect me” and felt awful. I didn’t know what a “normal” person would do in response or if my feelings were normal, until I asked my friend and realized I was being silly by letting myself get upset over it.
I am not trying to act like a brat, but I think I come off as one sometimes. I really want to stop worrying about being taken advantage of and people respecting me, because I feel like it is damaging my relationships. I teach high school and was so paranoid at the start of the year to lose control over my class that I think I was far too harsh. As a result, the kids didn’t respect or like me. I have tried to chill out recently and they have been responding a lot better. I feel like I incite power struggles where I don’t need to. One of my kids the other day yelled at me in class to “stop bothering him” when I was checking to see that everyone was working and I just didn’t react. I am going to have a meeting with him (so his behavior won’t go unnoticed) but I didn’t let him provoke me into feeling that I had to defend my authority in front of the class as I sometimes do.
Complicating all of this is the fact that I have come to distrust my emotions and reactions. I do sometimes wonder if I should be hurt/upset when it is a perfectly legitimate reaction, for ex., someone will snap at me and I will wonder if I have a reason to be hurt or if I am “overreacting.” (For example, complaining to my ex about my job and him saying, “I have enough problems, I don’t have time to listen to yours.”) So now when I have an emotional reaction or feel upset by something, it is very difficult for me to figure out if my reaction is legitimate or is caused by this fear of being taken advantage of. When I am genuinely upset by something, I want to be aware of that and act on it so that I can be true to myself and interact with people in a productive manner.
I realize this sounds like a big complicated mess (and that’s how it feels) and the internet probably can’t sort it out for me. Basically, I want to stop overreacting to “threats” to my authority (in the classroom), behave in my natural accomodating and caring way in all my relationships, and still be able to recognize when I am upset and need to assert myself. This has definitely not been a problem for me all my life (just the last few years), but I can’t seem to be able to get myself back to “normal.”
Thanks! I hope this makes some sense.