I swear it's on a daily basis these days, that I'm sitting with a young person...teenager to young adult, often adults as well, and they are struggling with a situation where other people are invading their life and they just can't understand why. At the end of their story, I'll ask "so why didn't you stop them?" To this they answer in an alarming and even panicky tone..."Oh no way, everyone would gang up on me, think I'm weak, I'm being controlling or overreactive, or that I'm a drama queen." I quickly say to them..."Well, okay then, I guess you have to stop complaining about the situation, because you're obviously okay with not willing to standing up for yourself." They often argue back, "No I'm not, I hate it. I want it to stop. I wish they would change or not be like that, but I don't know what to do. I can't just ask them to stop (I hear this so much)." The conversation often turns at that point to, "Well, it must feel pretty powerless waiting for everyone to change in accordance to your emotional needs, that are invisible I might add, and that are always changing depending on the situation." This usually creates a bit of confusion, but also contemplation that they really are just waiting on the world to change (I think there's a song about that).
"It's only in seeing how people respond to our boundaries that we can trust what integrity and character they possess." -Shayden
Usually at this point, there is a long and educated pause, where they are beginning to logically and rationally see that they need to face their fear of rejection, being weak, losing image, etc, and set their boundaries in order to create peace inside of them. However, these are very difficult and heavy fears to face, which is why they struggling saying "no."
In my opinion, all of us actually have a very clear understanding of what it is and isn't okay for us, even our young sometimes aloof teenagers. These are called values, and these values are protected by our setting boundaries around them. Those boundaries are most often set with our mouths. We have to speak them. If we don't, people cannot know what they are. It's literally not possible.
In sessions, I rarely focus on the cliche' statement of "I need to know who I am," but am instead mostly refocus on "what do you stand for?". In other words, what values and boundaries need to be made explicit in your life, so that those around you know exactly where you stand, and therefore can make decisions based in respect and tolerance or in defiance and disregard. It's only in seeing how people respond to our boundaries that we can trust what integrity and character they possess.
We as a culture are assuming the worst in many people, not because most people are inherently bad, but because many of us are slowly and steadily slipping away from what we stand for in the name of acceptance and niceness. This slippage is influencing us to assume what people stand for. It's in these assumptions we make asses out of ourselves and others. We feel a sense of defensiveness and looming need for protection nearly all the time.
Our young people are doing this at school in exponentially worse ways. Many live in a defensive and protected state, afraid to allow their real gifts of sensitivity, connection, vulnerability, and love show. They need our example to show them and push them to be assertive, stand their ground, and honestly take pride when someone is offended at them for sticking to their guns. It's the most freeing feeling in the world to know you are known, and that what is known, is what you actually believe in.
Have a great day Ya'll!