Carrie: “I want to kill all the other drivers on the road while I’m driving to work. I hate the situation I’m stuck in at work!”
Had a good chat with my friend Carrie, who hates her job situation but is afraid of standing up for herself by telling her boss what would be better for her mental health. And she’s quite afraid of the reaction/judgement from her boss. “How do I grow a pair of balls,” she asked. “I hate that I keep caving in and saying yes when I really want to say no.”
After a conversation over the phone, she texted me the next day: “You have no idea how much you helped me last night. It was everything I’ve needed for a very very long time.”
We went over dialog to have with her boss that matches her path to better mental health.
Own the mistake: “I fucked up. I’ve taken on too much and it’s killing me! I kept saying yes when I should have said no.”
Take charge: “I’m taking the bull by the horns and making changes in my life.”
Adjust the terms: “The current situation is too much. I’m willing to cover shifts 3 days a week or I’m walking away.”
Be willing to walk away: After admitting to taking on too much and announcing the new terms, be willing to walk away from the whole situation or job or friendship.
Allow the other person’s freedom of expression: Letting the other person be disappointed, angry, yell, make derogatory comments – while not caving in or explaining or backing down.
Don’t seek approval: You don’t need the other person’s approval for your new plan. State your terms and be willing to walk away. Once your adjusted terms have been stated, don’t seek the other person’s approval. Your new plan is for your mental health and you only need your own approval.
Not caving: Not caving in to repeatedly being asked to go out on a date; repeatedly being asked to work overtime; repeatedly being asked to take on new tasks.
Saying no to adults: Carrie said she was raised by wonderful parents who taught her to respect her elders, never question adults or authority figures, and to do as she’s told. For Carrie, growing a pair of balls means breaking the cycle of automatically agreeing to other people’s terms, and actively creating her own terms and/or counter-offering terms on the spot.
Be kind: Growing a pair doesn’t mean being mean or yelling. It means being firm. It means owning your mistake, adjusting the terms, welcoming the judgement, and not caving in. Being firm is being kind – kind to yourself and your mental health.