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Author Topic: 1.09 | Being Assertive  (DBT skill)  (Read 15760 times)
musicfan42
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« on: August 06, 2013, 07:32:34 AM »

    TOOLS: Being Assertive in a Healthy Way (DBT Skill)

    Assertiveness is a critical skill to maintaining healthy relationships. Without it, you'll be forced into passive or aggressive patterns that destroy the fabric of trust and intimacy.

    Assertiveness is most easily learned by using a simple script. It will help give you structure to what you want to say and keep you focused. A script also has the advantage of permitting you to to develop a statement in advance, practicing it by yourself or with someone you trust, and finally (at a time you choose) delivering it with greater confidence.

    I've taken this abstract from "The Dialectical Behavior Skills Workbook: Practical DBT exercises for Learning Mindfulness, Interpersonal Effectiveness, Emotional Regulation and Distress Tolerance" by Matthew McKay, Jeffery C. Wood and Jeffrey Brantley.

    The Three Elements of Assertiveness

    There are three basic elements to an assertiveness statement and one optional component.

    "I think" Statements

             This part focuses on the facts and your understanding of what's going on. It should not include judgments or assumptions about the other person's motives. It should not in any way attack. "I think" is a clear description of events and experiences that you need to talk about-and perhaps change.

    Here are some examples:

    "I think we haven't spent much time together lately-two nights the last week, one on the week before"

    "You've billed me for a repair I didn't authorize"

    "Looking back at the recent past, I think you've been late to the majority of our meetings"


    Notice that there isn't much hint of emotion in any of these statements, and there's no disapproval in the statement of facts

    "I feel" Statements

             Name the emotion that you feel e.g. "I feel anxious", "I feel stressed out" etc.

    Accusations and blame often start with the word "you" statements so they start with the word "you". Use "I feel" statements"-don't make "you" statements e.g. "you made me do this".

    Sometimes people dress up "I feel" statements to look like "I" statements. This charade is usually obvious because the sentence starts with: "I feel that you... "

    "I feel that you are selfish"

    "I feel that you're never home"

    "I feel that you manipulate me"


    Notice that a judgment, not a feeling forms the core of such communications. It's certainly safer than an "I" statement-because the speaker is less vulnerable-but it communicates nothing of your emotional experience.

    "I want" Statements

             This component is the whole point of assertiveness, and you need to think it through carefully. Here are some guidelines to follow:

    Ask for behavior change-You are entitled to ask for what you want.

    Ask for one behavior change at a time-People may get overwhelmed if they're asked to change too many behaviors at once. Asking them to change one behavior at a time makes it seem more manageable.

    Ask for something that can be changed now-"The next time we go on vacation, I want you to... " is a poor "I want" statement because it'll be long forgotten about when the next vacation finally arrives.

    Be specific and concrete-Vague requests like "be nicer" don't get you anywhere because nobody has a very clear picture of what they mean. Describe what new behavior you expect, and say when and where you'd want it to occur. Asking someone for twenty minutes of help doing research on the Internet is more effective than requesting "technological assistance".

    Self-Care Solution Statements (optional)

             Just asking for things isn't always enough. Sometimes you need to give people encouragement (reinforcement) before they're motivated to do something for you. The encouragement that works best is a fourth (optional) component of your assertive script called the self-care solution. This amounts to nothing more than telling the person what you'll do to take care of yourself if they don't comply with your request. The self-care solution isn't the same as threatening someone or punishing someone. Its purpose is to give information and show that you're not helpless, that you have a plan to solve the problem.

    Here are some examples:

    "If you can't leave for the party on time, I'll take my own car"

    "If you can't help with the cleaning, we'll hire a maid and we'll divide the expense"

    "If you can't find a way to keep the noise down, I'll ask the police to help you"

    "If you want to drive without insurance, I'll transfer the title to your name and you can take over the payments as well"


    None of these self-care solutions are designed to hurt the other person; they're about protecting your rights and taking care of your needs.

    Being Assertive in a Healthy Way

          I think: I've been working against a deadline tonight and haven't had time to cook the dinner

    I feel: I'm pretty anxious and overwhelmed that I might not get it done

    I want: Could you whip something from the leftovers so I can keep going?

    Self-Care Solution: If that doesn't work for you, I can order a pizza

    One way to use your self-care solution is to hold it in reserve-only using it if the other person refuses your preferred solution. Saving "the big guns" for later is often an effective strategy.

    Thank you Skip for helping me with the workshop discussion questions as well as editing this post.

    Workshop Questions

    Bullet: important point (click to insert in post) Have you used assertiveness techniques in the past (e.g. SET, DEARMAN, "I think" and "I feel" statements etc.) What has worked for you? What hasn't worked for you?

     Bullet: important point (click to insert in post) Are there issues that stop us from asserting ourselves? Things like feeling selfish for saying no, worrying about upsetting someone etc.

     Bullet: important point (click to insert in post) How do we know our demands are appropriate or inappropriate?

     Bullet: important point (click to insert in post) How critical is timing in making a request-when is a good time to ask for what we want? When is a bad time?

     Bullet: important point (click to insert in post) What is the best way to deal with no?



    NOTE: Assertiveness Scripts are very similar to the DEARMAN skill already mentioned in another workshop thread. Both tools involving making a request-asking someone for what you want.

    I've noticed that some people on the forum find the DEARMAN skill to be complicated so hopefully, the assertiveness script could be used as an alternative. Both tools are equally as effective-it really depends on what works for you. Personally, I like acronyms, so I prefer DEARMAN however it's up to each individual at the end of the day.
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    « Reply #1 on: October 23, 2013, 01:56:20 PM »

    Some of these tools really helped me, although I had not idea they were DBT skills. 

    Specifically, the "I feel" statements.  I had become so caught up in the dysfunction that I no longer could really say what I was feeling. As strange as it now sounds, I had to really think about what specific emotion I was feeling, and saying out loud actually helped. 

    Simply saying things like "I feel angry" or "I'm worried" helped me deal with my own emotions and communicate those feelings in my relationship in a way that didn't invite argument. 

    The "I think" and "I want" statements came a little later, and usually wrapped up in SET or DEARMAN formats.  Putting it all together like this is helpful. And I will start to incorproate this immidiately.

    I'm also a big fan of putting together a "script" and practicing what you want to say, especially in the beginning when it's easy to feel overwhelmed or triggered.  I still use scripts too, especially to start difficult conversations.

    Great workshop idea, thanks! 
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    musicfan42
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    « Reply #2 on: October 23, 2013, 06:51:48 PM »

    Some of these tools really helped me, although I had not idea they were DBT skills.

    DBT has a section called "Interpersonal Effectiveness" which is taken from assertiveness training. So any book/course on communication skills and assertiveness training is relevant to this topic... .it doesn't have to be a DBT book.

    There are other books that I personally find helpful. "The Feeling Good Handbook" by David Burns has a section in it on communication skills. I also like the book "When I Say No, I Feel Guilty" by Manuel J. Smith.

    Specifically, the "I feel" statements.  I had become so caught up in the dysfunction that I no longer could really say what I was feeling. As strange as it now sounds, I had to really think about what specific emotion I was feeling, and saying out loud actually helped.

    That makes sense. When you're stressed out, it's hard to think straight. I find that identifying the specific emotion has a calming effect on me. Saying it out loud also helps me because I get it off my chest-it's not building up. I said to someone a while back "I feel angry" and that prevented me from losing my temper.

    The Feeling Good Handbook talks about the importance of talking about your emotions as opposed to acting them out i.e. losing your temper, doing something destructive.

    Simply saying things like "I feel angry" or "I'm worried" helped me deal with my own emotions and communicate those feelings in my relationship in a way that didn't invite argument.

    I highlighted this last part because it's very relevant to this topic.

    The Feeling Good Handbook talks about the importance of owning your own thoughts and emotions-of using "I" statements e.g. "I think", "I feel" as opposed to "you made me feel bad". Blame is very common in arguments... when one or perhaps both people are feeling angry. Blaming the other person will usually cause the situation to escalate and work into an argument.
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    « Reply #3 on: October 23, 2013, 09:36:07 PM »

    This was a wonderful idea for a workshop! Thought-provoking.
     
    I have read the different components in different places, but puting it together this way makes it simple and powerful!
     
    These two workshop questions I struggle with:
     
    Are there issues that stop us from asserting ourselves? Things like feeling selfish for saying no, worrying about upsetting someone etc.
     
    How do we know our demands are appropriate or inappropriate?

    Having grown up with BPD & NPD-traits family members, it is hard to assess sometimes where the balance between my needs/wants and others' needs/wants is... .I think it stemms from not knowing exactly where my boundaries should have been, growing up. And nailing the balance of operating safely from within my boundaries, while being loving, compassionate, giving etc.
     
    It is easier to assess the one extreme - when the assertion would be unethical, or exploitive, or hurtful to another person (unless it's the case of lesser of two evils) - the answer is easy - don't assert yourself.
     
    Then there is the middle (hardest) - I think that is the core of the question #3. When is it appropriate, when is it inappropriate to assert oneself? It is absolutely ok to assert oneself if it is not at the expense or inconvenience to another. But what if my assertion of a need/want prevents another from satisfying their need/want? Who's needs/wants should I put first when? What if they are equally valid and competing?
     
    The other extreme also hard - am I letting others assert themselves excessively at my expense (not asserting myself)? I think that one is easy to see in public situations, but can get tricky in intimate relationships if we had an un-healthy childhood.
     
    I am looking forward to reading more insights.
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    « Reply #4 on: October 27, 2013, 04:01:03 AM »

    When I use "I think" with my dBPDs, I get... ."I don't care what you think. 

    He has pretty much the same reaction with any statements including "I want... .".  He does not care.

    He responds more positively (sometimes) to "I feel... .".

    Any opinion I express is viewed as argumentative, even when I agree with him.  It is very difficult to have a conversation, so I listen until pressed for a response which invariably is wrong... .

    Frustrating!
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    « Reply #5 on: October 28, 2013, 05:47:23 PM »

    A great topic!

    Having grown up in a family where I was not allowed to have an opinion or assert myself, this does not come naturally to me. Having something concrete like this is very helpful. Especially examples. Letting go of fear of upsetting the other person by asserting myself was a big step for me.

    A lot also seems to depend on tone of voice and timing. I try to make sure I don't do this if I'm tired or upset, because I know I'll likely have a sharp edge or overtones of eye-rolling that'll take the conversation to an different level. And not addressing a situation when there is tension in the air already, about that situation or something else. I used to think that when things were going well I didn't want to rock the boat by making a demand, as I saw it. No I think the opposite. Those moments are much more likely to bring about a happy result.

    To my surprise using these tools (SET, DEARMAN) has been easier than I thought. It really helps to have a script to guide me. The most challenging part for me has been to move on from the conversation when I get a "no". "If I could just say it differently, the other person would see that ... ." Learning to accept that a no is a no and then move on hasn't been easy. It took awhile to learn to think in terms of what you call here the self-care-solution. It's a good name, because that's really what it is.
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    « Reply #6 on: October 29, 2013, 10:49:10 AM »

    I want to print this out. I so STRUGGLE with this! Wow.   
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    « Reply #7 on: October 31, 2013, 09:00:33 AM »

    This is a great topic/workshop. Along with Scarlet Phoenix I grew up in a household where I wasn't allowed to have my own opinion and did not learn how to be assertive. My upbringing was cold and sarcastic thanks to uBPDm and enDad. I have been doing SET for years and it is only recently - maybe in the last 2 years - that it has started to become second nature, finally. I have my days though where I can feel myself 'stewing and accusing' instead of using I statements. It is a constant struggle to correct my behavior but I am getting better at it.

    I have also found that I am at a disadvantage in my professional life due to not learning how to be assertive. Sometimes I feel like I'm miles behind my coworkers emotionally. Has anyone else experienced this?

    -WM
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    « Reply #8 on: November 01, 2013, 09:08:36 AM »

    Although unfortunate that we have experienced this, it is always so validating to know others understand our experiences.   I am in therapy and have been for more than 2 years. Main issue is uBPDm, of course, but I also struggle with my enDad and sister, as well as my poor self-image. I am a work in progress  .

    I look forward to hearing others' experiences and also if anyone has the professional assertiveness issue.

    -WM
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    « Reply #9 on: November 02, 2013, 10:26:42 PM »

    I think that each bpdfamily situation has its own style of dysfunction. So, for us who grew up in it, it is good to explore the deficits and then correct them as we are growing in those areas. The good news: it is possible and fairly easy, once you detect what the problem is and what the solution is. Don't get me wrong - it is hard diligent work, and it is uncomfortable and scary sometimes. But the actual formula IS simple: little by little, practice what you know is right and it gets more and more natural, and you get more and more confident.

    For me personally, the main professional issues were these:

    1. Avoiding addressing problems

    I felt very uncomfortable in these situations. As in my family the pattern was either not to mention an issue, or have a rage fest (neither is acceptable among healthy people, even more so in a professional setting). What helped to start was my unhealthy ability to stuff my emotions, and remain calm as I learned more appropriate calm, but assertive ways of approaching conflicts with a positive, problem-solving attitude. Looking at confrontation as an opportunity to move through a difficult situation together, rather than an "us vs. them" battle. (I am still learning how to do that better)

    2. In a leadership position - looking to others for clues as to what they wanted and pleasing them, rather than being a leader and providing structure that I knew was best for everyone.

    This one was easier to correct. I just read in a book that not providing clear leadership was bad for the team in many ways. So, I decided right there and then, that I would think about the situation, and present my decisions clearly with confidence. And if someone did not like it, I was going to be open to re-consider the options.

    3. Not asking for what I wanted (time off, raises etc.)

    This one is still difficult, because it involves an assessment of myself and my needs/desires versus the value I am putting in and also others' needs/desires; and balancing all. But it does get easier also.

    Baby steps!  Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)
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    « Reply #10 on: November 08, 2013, 06:23:14 AM »

    This is the part of my growth I'm most consumed with right now. Thanks so much for creating a workshop on assertiveness!

    A hard part for me is managing the physiological reaction, especially when I'm asserting myself with someone in a position of authority. I wish the feeling that I'm going to be annihilated would go away! I think the physical sensation stuff goes along with what qcarolr said about the nonverbal language and timing being key, and Scarlet Phoenix said about tone and voice. Even if I say something assertive, the nonverbal cues might say otherwise, showing either how anger or scared I truly am.

    I tend to be a nervous talker in moments when it would really be best for me to remain quiet. If I can't be calm and assertive, I want to be able to reflect and take stock. And come back to the person or issue when I've had a chance to settle down my emotions and speak from a more centered place.

    What WiseMind and pessim-optimist said about professional assertiveness really hit home for me. Since N/BPDx is no longer in my life, and BPD brother and N-traits father are 3000 miles away, my practice ring is pretty much closed for business  Smiling (click to insert in post)

    So it's my professional life where assertiveness shows up the most. My supervisor is a bit of a mean girl. She changes the goalposts, and then chastises people for missing the goal. She's never wrong, everyone is stupid, no one knows how to do anything except her, etc. And she's a score keeper. I know if I assert myself, I'll pay for it at some point. She doesn't forget when someone makes her look stupid, which I think is how she feels when I assert myself. The one saving grace is that I have a lot of respect from higher ups in my organization, so she begrudgingly acknowledges that and has to be somewhat careful with me. I see her inflict a lot more damage on my coworkers, and one of them has started treatment for panic attacks and an anxiety disorder in reaction to our workplace.

    In case anyone finds it useful, Fear and Anxiety in the Workplace by Harriet Lerner (Dance of Anger) is really good. It taught me that in many situations, if there's a problem and you don't address it directly with someone, you're part of the problem.

    So I try to assert myself, but I think in professional situations, there can definitely be a cost. For example, my supervisor scolded me and said I shouldn't be working on x, I should be working on y. I needed to drop x immediately and start working nonstop on y. Even though x is something my two top bosses had asked me to do. I felt the danger danger danger

    reaction, but kept talking nervously, trying to make a case for why I couldn't just drop x right away. Then I nervous talked myself into a reason for needing to leave. Later in a meeting, supervisor came up with a brainstorm that involved me doing work not related to y, and I said, "I can't do that because I need to focus only on y right now." My tone was calm, I said it matter of factly, almost apologetically.

    Supervisor had a look on her face that told me I would pay for that comment. Next day, I get called into the office and scolded for something unrelated.

    There are dozens of instances like that. I find myself being very economical with assertiveness, picking and choosing my battles.

    Maybe that's just common sense.

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    « Reply #11 on: November 16, 2013, 08:08:19 PM »

     Bullet: comment directed to __ (click to insert in post) livednlearned

    This sounds like a case of muddled boundaries within the company... .

    It is hard to assert ourselves if the relationships of authority/responsibility aren't clearly defined.

    If we are being forced to assume responsibility, but not given the appropriate authority, we can calmly give the responsibility back.

    E.g.:'I would love to work on y, and I will, if you want me to. I was also asked to work on x and I will miss the deadline on x if I work on y. Would you like me to continue on x, or switch to y, in which case I will need to notify so-and-so that I will not be able to complete x, because of focusing on y?'

    And again later - 'Is it ok, with you to shift my focus from y and do this?' - is a simple question shifting the responsibility back.
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    « Reply #12 on: November 17, 2013, 09:18:59 AM »

    Thanks pessim-optimist -- this is great advice. I can still see challenges in doing this, but it's the clearest way to handle it. Challenging, because my ego is attached. I want her to realize that I have many masters, and she is only one of them, and the lowest one on the totem pole. Probably because I haven't asserted myself as much as I wanted to in the past, so it's built up and loaded.
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    « Reply #13 on: December 17, 2013, 04:28:56 AM »

    Great article I truly started to learn at my age to finally be assertive.
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    « Reply #14 on: January 09, 2017, 03:58:28 AM »

    I've used SET effectively with a borderline to defuse some of the dysregulation, but the:

    Action (What you are doing... .)
    Feel (... .is making me feel angry/sad/anxious... .)
    Like (... .I would like you to stop doing it... .)
    Need (... .or I will need to do xyz)

    has been the most effective boundary defense tool that I have experienced.

    There really is only two options for the boundary buster after this defense. To continue the behaviour and incur the consequence, or respect the boundary. I've used it effectively with a Borderline ex and with my children
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    « Reply #15 on: March 18, 2019, 09:53:58 AM »

    As some of you know, I've been married to two BPD husbands. I refer to my first husband as "BPD on steroids" while my current husband only has BPD traits.

    When I first got together with husband #1, I was not at all assertive. I had been raised by my BPD mother to be ashamed of asking for what I wanted. Instead of asking directly, I tried to hint about my wants and needs. And as you can imagine, that didn't work out too well.

    I had a belief that if I were accommodating, then my husband would try to help me achieve my wants and needs. Well, you can imagine that wasn't a good strategy either. I got into a pattern where I gave and gave and gave, even when I didn't want to, but sometimes my giving was reciprocated. More often it was merely expected.

    It felt extremely vulnerable to express what I thought, what I felt, what I wanted, what I needed. And I feared if I did, then I could be mocked, criticized, and abused, so I kept my feelings and thoughts hidden to a great extent.

    Putting all these elements together, I was the perfect victim for a sociopathic abuser.

    Things just kept getting worse in my marriage, no matter how much I put up with, he expected more. Finally it got to the point where all my lines in the sand had been crossed and I finally could no longer abide living a life that was so antithetical to what I thought a marriage should be.

    After I ended the marriage, I sought counseling. One of the first things my therapist said to me is "We are going to build you a self."

    Nowadays I doubt that people would believe that I was such a frightened obsequious little person. I'm still an introvert, but no longer captive to my shyness. I do my best to be a kind and responsible person, but if people don't like me, that's their prerogative and I choose to spend time with the ones who do.

    Being assertive is freeing and I'm so glad I've learned how to state what I think, feel, want and need.
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    « Reply #16 on: March 19, 2019, 11:06:46 PM »

    I was never good at being assertive. My experience with unhealthy conflict in my childhood taught me that conflict meant three things: pacify, avoid, or get hurt.

    As a result, I never learned to self advocate. I never learned effective ways to assert myself. In fact, I developed terrible social and general anxiety, and asserting myself terrified me. I still don't like it. Instead of asserting myself, I freeze and fawn.

    My abusive marriage also taught me that asserting myself was at best ineffective and at worst dangerous. There was a brief time when my ex BPD h and I took a parenting class and went over the "I feel___when you ___because____. What I want is_____." I tried this and got nowhere. He used all manner of tactics to not let this method of communication reach him. Worse, he would twist it and use it on me in a ridiculous version and pretend that he was trying to effectively communicate like an adult. Like, "I feel like you don't show care and concern for me because you don't cook breakfast before work or make my lunch. I think you should get up at five-thirty instead of six so you can get more stuff done before the kids wake up."

    Never mind that I had a newborn, a one year old, a two year old, a five year old, and a six year old to take care of, and I never slept, like, ever.

    I just gave up on asserting myself, until the abuse got so bad that I made a desperate escape. That's when I found this community, started therapy, discovered c-ptsd and that I have it, and learned that I can learn how to set boundaries and assert my needs. Slow though the process is, I am confident that It is possible.
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    « Reply #17 on: March 19, 2019, 11:20:29 PM »

    Excerpt
    Are there issues that stop us from asserting ourselves? Things like feeling selfish for saying no, worrying about upsetting someone etc.

    fear of conflict can make it hard to say no. i know that in the past, while it isnt like i enjoyed saying no, i didnt have much difficulty saying it to most people, but if i expected difficulty in return, i would postpone it, or give indirect answers, or excuses, or something like that.

    you may get push back, but in general, people respect a person who can say "yes" or "no".

    likewise, its good to be able to ask for what you want or need, not expect the other person to read your mind, and also be able to respect a "yes" or "no".
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    « Reply #18 on: March 20, 2019, 11:01:26 AM »

    I'm trying to work on ensuring that there is no way that 'assertive' can be construed as abusive in the slightest... and this is no mean feet given that everything my W doesn't like she equates to being abusive. It's also a challenge to maintain controlled assertiveness in the face of obscure arguments and accusations. I guess my experience of conflict with peers consisted of putting the world to rights over a pint with mates, we came to blows and things would regularly get animated... but, it was just about the debate, we all moved on post discussion and no one needed to worry about feelings!

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    « Reply #19 on: March 20, 2019, 11:26:11 AM »

    DBT definitely has some great techniques for communicating with family members. I really love how Shari Manning describes DBT techniques we can use with our family members with DBT in her book "Loving Someone with BPD". I particularly like how the author describes how BPD affects those who suffer from it, and has allowed me for the first time to really feel empathy for those who have it, really a first step in being able to be effectively assertive with a person with BPD while taking into consideration the emotional needs of both people.  We can never truly be 100 percent assertive with anybody, as we have to take into consideration who we are dealing with and the circumstances at the time. With the healthiest people our assertiveness will more likely be better received and understood, though there isn't anybody we can be 100 percent transparent with.
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    « Reply #20 on: March 20, 2019, 12:29:57 PM »

    I think I see improvements, the way conflict or me saying ‘no, that’s not okay’ used to work was something like this...

    She would say something unreasonable such as “I’ve got some people coming round to view the house tomorrow”, I would exhibit my extreme displeasure, probably use a few expletives and come across as aggressively shutting down the suggestion. She would shout back, I would call her and the idea crazy and she would storm off and tell her friends that I had verbally abused her. The origin of the conflict was lost (you are trying to sell our home without consulting me again), and it all became very focussed on how I had become angered... whether that anger was justified or not was at that point irrrelevant.

    Now I am able to express myself a lot more clearly and precisely whilst observing my emotions. She will say “I’ve got someone coming over tomorrow to view the house”. I observe my physical signs of heightened anxiety and take action to assess the situation... assess that I need to calm myself and be conscious. Of how close I am to dysregulation. I said “how long have you know about this viewing?”, “since Monday” (it’s thursday, and she has been cleaning the house all week), “I am not prepared to sell our primary asset at this stage, we do not have a financial agreement in place and you have not petitioned for the divorce, when we have those things in place, we both have legal protection and we will be in a position to market our home.” Big huff, maybe the same friends were informed and maybe they were even informed that I was abusive to her, however, I know that I handled the situation in a calm, clear and fair manner. Despite provocation I felt no need to join in conflict, I controlled my compunction to be critical, to be sarcastic even to be dumbfounded at the idea. However, she has not tried to sell the house since.

    There have been a few situations where I have asserted myself in a healthy manner preventing her from shortcutting a divorce process she said she wants.

    One area I struggle with is asserting myself to her rather than from her. Eg if she secretly spends a few hundred pounds on clothes and hides them under her bed, I struggle to assert myself since I wasn’t supposed to know about the secret clothes in the first place (similar to me not being able to assert myself re her OM). However, if she says “I’m going to town to buy some boots” I’d easily assert myself and say that given the context of what we’re going through and the number of pairs of boots she already has, buying new boots is not a reasonable thing to do. So when conflict comes to me I’m able to address it  in a healthy manner, but when potential conflict is covert I struggle. One main reason is because she will claim it’s none of my business. I know it is my business but asserting myself here will just poke her shame reflex (since she’s gone to lengths to hide it), part of me thinks “let her have her cake and eat it, she’ll soon realise it’s not going to make her happy”. Maybe I’m kidding myself but I am choosing not to assert myself since maybe that’s exactly what she wants. She’s kicking the dog because she wants it to bite her.

    On the whole I don’t mind what people think about me. Those who know me well are slowly coming round and asking questions which suggest she is losing credibility. I’ll just be me, I’ll say stop when she’s trying to take shortcuts and I’ll say stop when she starts to seriously damage other people.

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    « Reply #21 on: March 21, 2019, 02:01:48 AM »

    I don't know if this is assertive, but when my uBPD H starts to dysregulate, I immediately disengage.  I don't give him the drama I know he craves.

    In that past, H would invariably make divorce threats.  On one occasion, he made four such threats over a period of three days.  Now I just continue what task or chore I am undertaking and tell him to start looking for a lawyer.  I don't even look him in the eye but continue my tasks, not taking him seriously.  He has made divorce threats over at least the last ten years of our twenty year marriage in which he valued his children over me.  He now values his adult children over me, and is emotionally abusive and hypercritical of most things I do.  I have medical issues which make it difficult at time to do house work, and H is almost constantly exploding over this.

    Therefore, my asserting myself is stating what I want and then calling his bluff.  If he makes like he wants to throw things and cause a mess, again, I continue what I am doing.  If he rages and breaks things (overturned and broken furniture, thrown dishes, etc.) I make sure the grandchildren and pets are in a safe place, and then tell him to go clean up his mess.  I don't lift a finger.  H invariably ends up cleaning up his mess.

    pwBPD have tantrums, and I won't enable a tantrum by helping my H clean.   
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