On the wings of the breathtaking and cathartic #Metoo movement, I’d like to suggest that this is hardly the time to rest on laurels.
Put simply, if you consider standing up for yourself the end goal, you might just as well consider the feel-good kissing scene at the end of a run-of-the-mill romantic comedy a reliable forecast for the consistent tone of the entire relationship to come. We all know, deep down or obviously, it’s not.
And anyone will tell you who has done it; this moment after you stood up and said “enough!” is where the work actually begins.
The following ten points are attempts to capture possible projectiles that might fly in your direction the moment you stand up, and tips on how to not only interpret them but also handle them.
1. “Sit down. Yes, you, sit back down. No? Well I’m going to make you!” People in your life who have come to rely on you being submissive, silent, forgiving in the face of boundary violations will NOT appreciate you giving them a warning slip or a full-on ticket. You went through all this work to finally take a stand for yourself. Don’t let the actual role you now play overshadow why you took it on. You are ready to put yourself first. You mean business. Keep standing. Trust in the process. Do not be intimidated by their temporary fits of disappointment. Either they change how they treat you or the relationship does or both. Your business is simply to stand in your truth. (Incidentally, you might notice all kinds of random, daily-life situations start challenging you in this way—from returning something that is broken and insisting on the refund to asking to switch rooms in a hotel because of the mold in the shower—keep standing and you get more and more deeply calm in the face of them.)
2. "You’re just an/a [insert any number of manipulative names and coercive remarks that might look like this %*#@*!^ ] and you won’t be anything in the future." Learn to see that other people’s opinions are limited to their own experiences of their own truths and their own capacity to understand what you are doing or who you are. If they don’t have the capacity, it’s not up to you to shrink or be less than, even if they wish for you to do so. You have stood up, broken out of the mold of how they perceive you. You will see, the world is much bigger than their little opinion.
3. The dead silent still of night when all of your anxieties fly up and tell you that you never should have done it. Darling, best thing I can tell you is that this is a clever little zone called “the meantime” that the universe custom made to fit the exact period and time that you could cave into doubt and again throw yourself under the rushing bus of other people’s wishes. This is a test. It’s only a test. Wait it out. Watch a funny video. Raise your vibration in this meantime and stay connected to that gut feeling—that run-for-your-life-from-this-burning-house-of-co-dependence knowing—that drove you to stand in the first place.
4. Friend, partner, colleague: “I love you, I believe in you, you are magnificent and you did the right thing”—to which you respond in your mind or out loud “oh, come ON.” This is a really tricky yet important one. Someone has been browbeating the shit out of you and you stood up for yourself. Then someone who genuinely has the capacity to love, respect, appreciate you comes to back you up. Keep that person ON your team in all respects, even in your thoughts. Actively hug them back. Look them in the eyes and say “thank you.” They see you and have watched you suffer. Recognize your future tribe and all the angelic presence around you and praise the hell right out of it!
5. "I didn’t mean it … lighten up." Wow, that took some effort, didn’t it? No. It didn’t. You are not being heavy. You are not being anything but how you need to be to start enforcing some boundaries. And if it’s been a long pattern of abuse (from passing insults to full-on molestation, it all counts), it will take time for those boundaries to stick. You must hold them. And you will be accused of being too serious, too heavy, boring, ect. In this case, best thing to do is distance more—the person who would turn the table like this is miles from self reflection and likely needs a few more lessons in their world. You don’t. Moving on.
6. Friend requests, follows, likes, adds, other cheap tricks. These wimpy excuses to get back in your life are just that. Until there is an actual apology and admittance that what you said was considered, reflected upon and put into action in terms of changes, think twice for letting people creep closer. Make them step forward with some more solid evidence as to why you should let them back in.
7. Compliments and small gestures to lure you back open. Best thing you can do when you decide that you are first is throw away your addiction to praise or blame as markers for your own life. They have nothing to do with the process you are beginning now. Your first priority now is to stand with yourself and then, after that, judge carefully who gets to be in the inner, middle and acquaintance level of your social life. People warming you up better work harder than just what it takes to smirk and say to themselves “hmm well that was easy.”
8. "Why are you doing this to me?" If you were the one feeling beaten down, overlooked, abused, disregarded, degraded, or any of the whole family of these sad power-over situations, you are not doing anything to anyone to step away and take care of yourself. The best thing you can do for the entire world is to make sure you are taking care of yourself, first. As an adult, nobody else will do this. So as you come back into your power, you come back into your responsibility. Let others come back into theirs, too.
9. "It’s not very spiritual or kind of you to be acting like this." Great book suggestion: Spiritual Bypassing, by Robert Augustus Masters. This book is one every yoga teacher, spiritual guide, healer, student and seeker would do well to read. We are human. We are wired according to some fundamental laws of survival and behavioral realities that surround this. One thing is for sure, the person who is “good all the time,” is not enlightened. They are in-fact acting. Look carefully. Investigate how they treat others. Do your research before you buy the argument that YOU are the one with the problem. Projection is so convincing because the person is so convinced their wrongs are actually yours. You don’t have to be.
10. "Let’s start over." Ah-ah-ah. Not so fast. Slow this train down. Don’t let people slip out of uncomfortable conversations, self-reflection, discussion and boundary agreements. When someone says this, ask yourself if they are very clear on what went wrong, what you need to feel balanced and what kind of changes need to be made. Did you really talk everything over to your satisfaction as well as theirs? Treat it like a trial period. You don’t have to say “okay—I am wide open once again.” Have some respect for your own process. Let it be a process and take the time it needs to change. Relationship dynamics and respect-building take time to get straight.