Be Assertive, Be Be Assertive

I have struggled all my life with being assertive. There are a number of reasons for this. I have the belief that I must never be impolite, dominant or assert my rights, because people will only hate me if I do.

The fact that I think they will hate me even if I am nice and kind doesn’t seem to help me change my mind about this way of living.

I remember one time when I was 18 I was in Pizza Hut with my boyfriend. We were going to share a pizza. We ordered a pizza that was all vegetables (I was a vegetarian) but had chicken on half of it. Somehow this confused the waitress and the pizza came out half vegetable and all chicken.

Do I really have to tell you that I didn’t complain and instead just painstakingly picked the chicken off my half of the pizza?

Yes, on that occasion I was a complete and utter twit. But to be honest I haven’t learnt my lesson, and I still can’t confront people.

A couple of things happened this week to highlight my inability to be assertive.

The first is a bit long and has been causing me a lot of stress. I go to an exercise class with a group of girls and we each pay £4 a session to cover venue hire.

Because I tend to pay for a month’s worth of session in advance as it helps me budget better, sometimes I end up in credit if I miss a session, which is what happened before Christmas.

I missed a session at the start of January and then paid for a group of sessions when I next went. The person who normally collects the money wasn’t there so I paid to the person collecting.

When I next went and the girl who normally collects the money was collecting I said I was paid up, which confused her. This set of the panic in me and I asked her to check when she got home as to where I stood.

She did and said I owed £16 after her calculations.

I know this was wrong and told her so, and she said that she must have made a mistake. (She is a very lovely person and I harbour no ill will towards her-she really is great-but I will carry on with my story)

As it is now February when I went this week I paid for all the sessions that I will go to before the next payday, and due to a bit of miscommunication I think she thought I was paying for the amount I was supposedly in debt by. So I have since sent a message to her explaining that it was for this month’s sessions that I paid for this week.

But I know me, and I am thinking two things.

  1. She doesn’t believe me and all the other girls will turn against me and say that I am screwing the sessions and short changing them all.
  2. I know me, and even though I know I have paid for every session I have attended and am not in debt, I know that to ‘keep the peace’ I would pay for the amount I am supposedly in debt by as they are bound to hate me if I don’t.

So this has been a major source of stress and I don’t know how to proceed.

To be clear-none of the girls are mean or capable of mean thoughts and most likely believe me and I am worrying over nothing. They are not bad people. I am just merely trying to explain my anxiety and how I feel people perceive me.

It’s not that I think the worst of people, it’s that I think the worse of me, and see it as only natural that people would turn against me.

Today there was another incident where I should have stood up for myself.

I went to have coffee with my friend and as it was my turn to pay I went up to the counter to order.

There were four staff members behind the counter having a conversation, and despite my size not exactly making me invisible it was a while before any of them finished their conversation and served me.

The person taking my order did not make eye contact as I ordered a small latte and a large americano.

They then served the person behind me.

The person behind me had his drinks made first.

They then asked me to remind them what I had ordered.

They then served the drinks in cups that were very clearly the same size, despite me ordering two different sizes.

I said nothing and instead went back to my friend and was in a little bit of a daze about what had just happened and probably won’t be going there again anytime soon in a hurry.

They didn’t overcharge me, I know that much, but it was still a bad exchange.

The trouble is I can only defend myself against the people I am closest to. The people who I know love me and will still be my friend/relative/partner even if I say they are being a dick.

What does it matter if a random cafe person hates me because I tell them they have got my drink order wrong?

I can’t defend myself when I’m in the wrong. I can’t defend myself when I’m in the right. I have an absolute desperate need to have people like me which I am wise enough to know is an impossible task as no one on the planet is liked by everyone.

My boyfriend has told me that I am holding myself back, that I am ruining my life, that I am letting people walk all over me.

For the most part this is all true.

I need to be assertive.

Trouble is that feels like an impossible task. Something that seems easy to do but in reality is so hard to actually put into place.

But I must change. I can’t carry on living this way. I am holding myself back.

 

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The marked difference between a calm and anxious mind

CUSTOMER SERVICE SITUATION

(Where I have to talk to people)

Anxious Mind

Oh crap, I have to talk to someone. I wish I had the power of invisibility. Is it too late to hide under the desk? I pray that they just want to know where the nearest bathroom is and not anything more complex than that. I hope they don’t notice that my eyes have gone a bit ‘Rabbit in the headlights’ and I must look terrified. Why do they have to talk to me? Why can’t they talk to someone else?

Calm Mind

‘Oh hello, how can I help? Oh that sounds interesting, I’d be happy to solve that problem for you’ Wow, that was nice, they were really lovely. It was so great to talk to that random stranger, I had a real connection and it was fantastic.

SOMEONE NEAR ME IS WHISPERING/LAUGHING

Anxious Mind

What have I done? Why are they talking about me? What do I look like? When I get home I’m going to have my boyfriend examine me from every angle so I can figure out why they were talking about me. What have I done wrong? Why does everyone make fun of me?

Calm Mind

……….. (calm mind doesn’t even register it)

Some days are good.

Some days are bad.

Some days are both good and bad.

I can’t fully analyse my problems because they are never the same. Sometimes a situation that had me stressing the f*** out is completely fine the next time I encounter it.

When I am anxious I go quiet, I have knots in my stomach, I feel a sense of ‘must get out of here’ as urgently as possible. I look around desperately for an escape door, a saviour or something that will fix the problem, someone to rescue me.

I am never fully relaxed. I am careful to not say anything that could be interpreted as being offensive or start an argument, even though in general I am a kind and considerate and thoughtful person.

After the social event I will analyse the conversation from every different angle to see if I did say something that upset someone, or if someone is harbouring a grudge against me, or if I did something ‘wrong’.

There is a common expression which is ‘Be yourself and people will like you’

How can people like me if I am myself?

I don’t even like myself, how can I expect anyone else to?

The case of the mysterious disappearing and reappearing £2

Not too far in the distant past I was so bad with money coming in and out of my account that I once left a job and was convinced they didn’t pay me (they did) and I was convinced I wasn’t paying an annual subscription for an online course (I was).

I am now so careful with money that the other day I was missing a penny from the ‘Food shopping budget wallet’ and was in a grump about how to get that penny back until my boyfriend found it under the sofa.

Each month my bills come out at different times. I am frequently deducting the bills, and whatever I have withdrawn or put on my debit card to see how much disposable income I have left, and whether I still have enough to cover the bills.

Since April 2015 I have kept track of every single penny I have spent.

So I know exactly what has come and gone from my account.

Which leads me to the case of the mysterious disappearing and reappearing £2.

Each month, without fail, there will be a discrepancy one day to the tune of around  £2, sometimes less. It will be missing from my account, and I know that I have not made any payments for  £2 on my card. Nothing will show up on my statement that was  £2. But I will have  £2 less than I should do.

Then a few days later, it will reappear. Again, there will be nothing on my statement, no credits of  £2, but my balance will have  £2 more than it was the other day.

Now I know it seems likely that I have made a mistake, but I do know where every penny has gone.

Weird.

Anyone else have this?

Payment a Day

My bank account as of this moment only has the exact amount of money left for the two remaining bills that need to come out before next payday.

This is because of the following:

I have transferred the bulk of the remaining money to my savings account. I have transferred the money that covers the budgeted categories to keep it safe.

Safe I hear you ask? Yes, you see with the budgeted categories most of them won’t be spent every month, but I will need to have the money ‘saved’ because when I do use the money from that category I will most likely be spending a couple of month’s worth of the budget at that point.

So you can see that my savings account is the logical place for them.

I have also transferred my boyfriend the money for a ticket to a football match we are going to next month.

Which left the bill money, and £3.31.

I am now going to tell you about an idea that is from the forum on the Money Saving Expert website which was created by my hero, Martin Lewis. ‘Payment a day’

Payment a Day, or PAD as it is better known on the MSE website, is where you make a payment-big or small, doesn’t matter-everyday to your chosen account, most usually a debt or savings.

In the summer of 2016 this really kept me on track when I was ‘between contracts’ (unemployed) and wanted to tackle my debts.

My tactic is to round my bank account down to, depending on how flush I am at the time, the nearest £1/£5/£10.

I no longer do a PAD everyday, as I would soon run out of money and eat into my bill money because every penny is now carefully budgeted for, but when I do have a random amount remaining in my account I send it to one of my debts.

So I know it is only £3.31 but that is £3.31 I have sent to my credit card that I won’t ever be paying interest on again. It is small, but I have paid extra to my debts.

And paying extra is what counts.

Believe me there was a point in my life where if I had £3.31 left in my account which couldn’t be withdrawn I would be going from shop to shop looking at things to that amount that I could buy.

It didn’t even matter what I was buying.

So this means my savings account is now at £100 which I’ll agree is frighteningly small for a adult-ish girl without a permanent work contract, but that is the largest balance I have had in that account for YEARS! It is triple digits! (just)

I will dip into that savings account, as it has my work expenses money in it, but putting it in my savings account first is a statement to my intention of spending as little as possible.

Today was a good day.

 

January 2017 Financial Review

Hi everybody,

It is the end of the first month of the year. I am 1/12 of the way through a No Spend Year and it is time to assess how I spent my money this month.

HOME £5/£2.50

WORK EXPENSE £5.90/£7.50

SOCIAL £161.07/£25 (ooops)

HEALTH £13.50/£5

GIFT £27.87/£25

TRAVEL (DAY TO DAY) £2/£10

So good points:

I was under budget on a couple of categories.

There were no ‘forbidden’ purchases.

Nothing was put on a credit card (not that it was going to be but still I celebrate small victories).

Some budgets will be inflated this month but will balance out in the long run.

Due to my payday being before the end of the month some of these expenses were from my December-January pay and some were covered by my most recent payday.

January will be a weird month anyway as my account balanced was increased from having Christmas present money.

Bad points

I am over budget on most categories including a very, very high balance on my Social budget.

And that is all that needs to be said.

Hmmm.

Let’s look at my January accounts:

MONEY IN

£1485.62

MONEY OUT

£1378.45

DIFFERENCE

£107.17

Which in theory is great, except I don’t know where this £107.17 profit has disappeared to.

Better than my ‘January 2017 Accounts’ spreadsheet telling me I am in debt this month, but it is confusing.

I need to reign it in this February. I don’t have Christmas money going spare, I only have what is in my account and purse. I will have to be careful.

My Worst Moments of Anxiety #4 PROM NIGHT

#4 

WEST SUSSEX, ENGLAND 2005

In 2005 I was 16 and doing my GCSEs. I had learnt how to straighten my hair without burning my ear and I was going out with my first boyfriend. Things were going great.

Not.

I have struggled with depression, anxiety and mental health I would say since I was 10 (when I was 10 I lost a friend to cancer so I hope you can appreciate it was real mental health difficulties and not a trivial school playground type anxiety). I suffered pretty badly when I was 15 where I carved swear words into the wood of my bedroom desk, and when I was 16 it was horrendous.

If you are prone to anxiety you tend to blow everything out of proportion and fear the worst, whether the situation is actually that serious or not. You have no sense of scale so the most insignificant of times can seem like the end of the world.

In 2004 I fancied a friend of mine, to my great surprise he liked me back and in terms of how I felt at the time I can say that when he whispered in my ear at my summer BBQ ‘will you go out with me?’ I couldn’t have been happier.

By January 2005 I had realised that I wanted out of the relationship. Problem was my boyfriend was also prone to mental health difficulties and I had got it into my head that he would ‘do something’ to himself if I dumped him. Also due to his popularity we had become sort of an ‘it’ couple in High School and as a result we were nominated for best couple at the prom. I felt I would break his heart if I dumped him. I thought that everyone would hate me. All my friends thought we were the perfect couple, and I felt like I had to live up to that.

I loved him, I still do love him and consider him one of my best friends, but here’s the crucial fact-I wasn’t in love with him. I didn’t realised that it was normal to not be in love with your boyfriend when you were 16, most people go out with people when they are 16 just to appear normal (I’ll admit I did like that it chased away the ‘Flo is a lesbian’ rumours).

But because I am me, and value authenticity and honesty and loyalty above all else, I couldn’t handle being in a relationship with someone I wasn’t in love with. I didn’t know how to break up with him and spare his feelings. I didn’t know what he would do if I broke up with him.

Also to go along with the whole ‘It’s the end of the world as I know it (and I don’t feel fine)’ feeling I spent most of the 2004-2005 academic year experiencing, I was doing my GCSE exams, the ones which determine what subjects you can study at college, the ones that determine if you can go to college in the first place, and despite being a smart student I was convinced I was going to fail them all.

It also didn’t help that my family wanted me to do better than my perfect cousin who got 7 A*’s and 3 A’s at GCSE level. I was smart, but I wasn’t that smart. I couldn’t tell the whether my family were joking about me doing better than the cousin, or whether they were actually demanding it. Needless to say I was putting a lot of pressure on myself.

So we get to Prom Night. I was initially having a great time. I had had my hair and make up done at a beauty school, I was wearing a funky nautical pink and black 50’s style prom dress which I loved, I had arrived with my friends in a Pink Limousine, it was going great.

I was even thankful that my boyfriend and I didn’t win best couple at the prom, so at least that wasn’t weighing on my mind.

Somewhere towards the end of the night a though crept into my head and I couldn’t make it go away. It became all consuming.

The thought was this. ‘This is it, this is the most beautiful you will ever look, you will never look this pretty again, you will never have this level of freedom and happiness again, you are about to grow up and everything will be so much worse’.

I realised I was at a point in my life where soon there would be no return. There was the past-my childhood-behind me, and in front of me was a terrifying future where I would fail my exams, break my boyfriend’s heart or stay in a relationship with him out of pressure (none of which he put on me, he was an absolute saint) and I would just get fatter and uglier (this last part has elements of truth in it).

I’m not saying I was suicidal or that I was going to do anything, but the thought did occur to me that it would have been a good point for my life to end.

Prom night ended, and we went to a house party at my friend’s house. Even then I was scared of large social gatherings so I was not having a good time, I was trying to avoid everyone and look like I was having the time of my life sitting on the sofa not talking to anyone. I could barely speak to the people that did want to talk to me as too many thoughts were racing through my head. I was having an information overload.

I called my dad and got him to pick me up, saying I was ill. I don’t know whether he thought I was drunk or had taken something but he did it without much complaint even though it was very late at night. I felt utterly ashamed and embarrassed that I had f***** up what is supposed to be the crowning event of your high school career, that I was too mentally incapable of even enjoying Prom.

You won’t be surprised to hear I didn’t fail my GCSEs (in fact I was one of the top 20 students, even though I only got 4 A’s), that I did go to College and pass all my exams and go on to University.

You won’t be surprised to hear my boyfriend broke up with me, did not ‘do anything’ to himself and we remain friends.

You won’t be surprised to hear this was not my only moment of anxiety at what was supposed to be a very happy occasion.

Next week you can hear about how I f***** up my University Graduation.

Financial Review of Week 4

Hi everyone,

Another week has passed, and I really hope I don’t spend any more as this week has been a wee bit spend-tastic (I will be the first to admit I sometimes take liberties with the English Language)

SOCIAL

Meal out with the boyfriend £15

Costume accessories for Friend’s Hen Party £4 

I debated long and hard about what category this would fall into and decided that as I am hardly likely to wear a pink glittery cowboy hat and a necklace with a shot glass attached in day to day life (unless I start working in the new Coyote Ugly bar in town) these items are for a very specific social event and that’s why I am classing them as such.

Ticket to see a Comedian in May £13.20

TRAVEL

Bus £1. I feel really annoyed about this. I was running a bit late for work anyway on Thursday and then halfway to the station realised I had left my football kit at home, so had to go back and then get the bus to town centre. The expense is definitely preferable to being late for work but still.

WORK EXPENSE

Milk £0.65

FOOD/GROCERY

Tinned Chilli for the boyfriend £1

Milk, Carrots and Bread £2.79

Big monthly food shop £48.28

Bread and Margarine £2.19

Fajita Mix, Rice, Naan, Poppadom, Cous Cous £10.54

Sponges, Listerine, Ibuprofen £5.28

Frozen Food £9.29

Orange Juice, Fruit and Veg, Cleaning Supplies £6.05

Milk, Bread, a danish pastry for me and a chocolate croissant for the boy £4.13

Although this week has involved a lot of spending it has all been either essential or budgeted for expenses, so I don’t feel too bad about it. I just prefer to keep money in my account/purse for as long as possible.

I made £3 this week in an online survey, £3 in an Amazon voucher through a receipt app I’ve got (Receipt Hog) and cashed out £5.40 on another shopping app (Checkout Smart). So I am making small bits of money.

It feels great to have a slightly reduced overdraft. Can’t wait till it is paid off.

I wish you all a pleasant Sunday.