I don’t want to be a bitch

I don't want to be a bitch
Extreme tolerance can be interspersed with outbursts of aggression. Courage and assertion skills are needed to achieve mature communication.

I am a pretty quiet person and pretty tolerant. But sometimes I get so angry I lose it and let people know how I feel. How do I change to be more assertive without being a bitch?

You are already being a bitch, some of the time anyway. When you get angry and let loose, those targeted are likely to think you can be bitchy. And yet you don’t like people who act like that.

Take a moment to put yourself in the shoes of a person with whom you have become angry. For convenience, let’s call her Anne.

Anne, you are going about your business when suddenly this angry individual approaches you and blasts you verbally. How do you feel? What do you think of the person who has just let loose at you? As Anne, you probably feel pretty upset. You don’t like this angry person yelling at you and you wonder what is going on.

Can you see that you have got this exactly back to front? You are worried about being assertive and being seen as a bitch, when, in fact, it is the non-assertive person who turns nasty.

How does this happen?

You refuse to take full responsibility for your feelings of annoyance. In fact, you have been ignoring your true feelings.

Let’s say Anne does something that annoys you. Do you speak to her? No. You repress your feelings and tell yourself that what she did isn’t that important. Sometime later, Anne does something else that annoys you. Again you discount it and say nothing. Perhaps this happens a couple more times until Anne does one more thing, probably truly minor this time, which you can no longer tolerate. The pressure-cooker explodes and you verbally attack her.

Anne has no idea what has been going on in your mind. She is totally unaware of what she has done to annoy you. You have not been courteous enough to tell her. She has no opportunity to correct her actions. Instead, out of the blue, she sees you suddenly screeching at her.

You asked if you can become more appropriately assertive. Of course you can. But you need to understand what you are doing so you can decide to make different choices.

You are refusing to acknowledge your power. You are afraid of misusing it. You think that if you consciously and deliberately tell someone they made a mistake or upset you, that you are hurting them in some way. At a deep level, you also fear that they might react, like a wounded animal that has been hurt. You intuitively know how people can react to being emotionally wounded. It is exactly what you are doing, reacting with anger to a perceived attack.

You will actually hurt the other much more by reacting impulsively rather than taking conscious, considered action. The impulse comes from refusing to address the problem earlier. Instead of taking deliberate action to assert your needs, you are using anger to assert yourself.

This is childish.

You are pretending you are not being bitchy and you are pretending you are not asserting yourself. You are asserting yourself but in an immature, reactive way.

Speak your truth in a calm, friendly manner. Practice doing this even to people who annoy you. It is a skill and you need to develop it. Seek help from a psychologist to release any underlying fears so you can learn this skill. Any new way of communicating can be learnt once you make up your mind to do so.

Struggling with your mental health? North Brisbane Psychologists can help. Book an appointment today!