*This post is is the Part III for both Bridie Marie’s “Boundaries” series (click for Part I, Part II) and my “NO” series (click for Part I, Part II)*
Ok, so you’ve worked on your refusal skills: you’ve practiced saying “No” or “Stop” –with a supportive friend or to random objects in your house like a pillow or the siracha bottle.
“Stop it Siracha. I said ‘No’ “
Nevertheless, you are still worried about your ability to stand your ground and say “No” to a real person, in a real situation, where you really want to lay down your boundaries. Why?
Perhaps you are afraid that this real person (I’ll call them the “seeker”) won’t respect your ‘No’. They may hassle you, call you names, or behave in some other stupid, cowardly, hurtful manner.
“Ok,” you tell yourself, “that’s gonna be unpleasant, but I can handle it. That hypothetical ‘seeker’ is obviously a freakin’ asshole. I would obviously have the high ground. I’d be able to hold and defend my ‘No’.”
But what if instead, upon hearing your refusal, the seeker says something like, “Y’know… you aren’t being reasonable here”?
Maybe it’s the fear that our “reasoning” or “fairness” will be challenged that really keeps us silent. We’re afraid we may have to defend not only our boundaries, but our very selves as sane and rational.
Sometimes it goes even deeper. Sometimes we ourselves have internalized the idea that it IS unreasonable to expect our boundaries to be respected in certain situations.
“ Whoa! She’s WAY too far up in my face… but then again, I’m dancing with her! What else did I expect?” (illustration from The Two-Step)
This questioning of whether our boundaries are “reasonable” or “appropriate” is far more complex and insidious than simple disrespect. Rationality, the very ground on which you stand, is being attacked. This is what I like to call a patronizing argument.