Women need to stop saying this
A few weeks ago, I was walking the dog near my family’s country property. The house is on an old bush track and, as usual, Belle was off the lead.
I had taken a phone call from Mum when I noticed it: my dog had dashed through the open gate of a neighbour, lured in to play by the family’s two convivial chocolate labs.
No matter, I thought, and turned to retrieve my dog. It was then that I heard the screaming. Startled, I hurtled toward the property to witness a woman flailing at Belle with a broomstick while making the most piercing, guttural noises.The scientific reason you should stop using emojis immediately
Belle came tearing out, tail between her legs, and proceeded to cower behind me.
The woman, headed back toward the house, looked at me from afar. “If I ever see that dog in here again,” she fumed, “I’m going to fricking shoot it dead!”
My guts cramped up, heart began hammering. But what did I say? “Sorry,” in the most meek, mild voice. In that instant, I hated myself.Your sleeping pattern could be making you fatter
You see, I was not the one who should have been sorry. Apparently unbeknown to this woman, her two labs had been routinely jumping the fence to our property to play with Belle. The area is cattle and sheep heartland, so dogs shouldn’t really be wandering around unsupervised, but we had thought it none of our business to intervene. We had been trying to be neighbourly.
The injustice was paralysing. I paced along, pulse racing, growing more indignant with every step. How dare she threaten me! My own pathetic response reverberated through my brain on repeat: Sorry, sorry, sorry. But I wasn’t sorry! I had to go back.
I turned around. Then again. And once more. “Just do it!” I scolded the child inside me, the kid so petrified of upsetting anyone. “She deserves it!”These are 8 warning signs that your relationship is about to fail
Distracted by my inner battle, I didn’t notice the car until she was there, speaking to me. “Sorry,” she offered, “I shouldn’t have…”
“Did you know,” I exploded, shocked to hear my own voice, “that your dogs wander around other people’s properties unsupervised, and chase the cattle?”
She drew breath, tightened her jaw. I couldn’t stop. “How can you expect my dog to stay off your land when you leave your gate wide open; when your labs come out to solicit every dog that walks past? How is it that YOUR dogs are allowed to come onto MY land every day, but my dog makes one mistake and you threaten to frigging SHOOT HER?”NASA is looking for someone to protect Earth from aliens
Now she was angry. “My dogs don’t do that! They…”
“I have photos, lady!” I had lost it. “You are the biggest hypocrite I’ve ever met! Shut your stupid gate, and if I ever see your dogs chasing cattle again, I’ll call the bloody pound!”
And with that, I stormed off. I had done it: said everything I’d wanted to say. But I didn’t feel triumphant. I felt guilty.Secret report about the Pope’s hospital
Like most women, I will go to great lengths to avoid stepping on any toes. Research shows women tend to pepper their speech with superfluous “sorrys”, put others’ needs ahead of their own at work, and habitually submit to being spoken over in the boardroom.
The problem? We’re so used to being polite, many of us have no idea how to assert ourselves when we need to. Instead, we engage in passive aggressive behaviours, snipe behind others’ backs, or, as the Labrador owner can attest to, bottle things up till we simply explode.Wife starts dating dead husband’s brother
Unfortunately, these responses tend to exacerbate, rather than soothe, a tense situation.
So why are we so uncomfortable with assertiveness?
According to psychologist Sandra Thomas, PhD, a leading researcher on women’s anger, our fear of engaging in conflict harks back to our childhoods. “For girls, acting out is not encouraged. They tend to get the message that anger is unpleasant or unfeminine.”Best sex positions for car
Unlike boys, who are encouraged to externalise their anger, women learn that it’s better to bottle up their own feelings than risk upsetting anyone else’s.
We all know what it feels like to stand, dumbstruck, while someone unloads on us, only to spend the next five hours going over what we should have said. But the ramifications of wimpiness go beyond temporary frustration. Thomas explains that in women, stifled anger leads to especially high levels of resentment.
And resentment is poison to relationships. Psychologist Terry Gaspard outlines how bottling up anger in a partnership leads to “less warmth, affection and over time less fondness and admiration for your partner”.Rise of women getting ‘pleasure injections’
At work, resentment can lead to feelings of powerlessness. Even superstars aren’t immune: In her 2015 essay for Lenny, Jennifer Lawrence admitted to feeling “like a failure” after she withdrew early from pay negotiations for American Hustle, fearing that sticking up for herself would cause her to appear “spoiled”.
Worse still, chronic resentment can manifest itself as mental illness. In an article for Psychology Today, Stephen A. Diamond Ph. D states that: “Bitterness, which I define as a chronic and pervasive state of smouldering resentment, is one of the most destructive and toxic of human emotions.”Surprising things guys find unattractive
By contrast, explains Thomas, when we are “clear and forthright with (our) anger, and employ problem solving techniques”, the air is cleared, respect is created, and ongoing resentment is avoided.
Sounds great in theory, but how do we get the guts up to put it into practice?
As J Law suggests, we may need to start by confronting the unconscious belief that assertiveness is somehow unladylike. We could do this by regularly affirming to ourselves that we have the right to be heard and respected. Of course, it won’t sink in overnight, but research shows that simply repeating a phrase to ourselves daily can help undo stubborn childhood conditioning to the contrary.To improve your brain, have more sex
From there, it’s down to practice. We could start small; perhaps by making the effort to express a minor irritation to a friend; and build up to the boss over time.
In our desperation to be nice, we women too often sacrifice our own mental wellbeing. Perhaps it’s time we decided that it’s not impolite to assert ourselves, especially when we are sticking up for our precious fur babies!