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May 14, 2012

Sometimes You Have To Yell To Be Heard…or Do You?

IStock_0womanyellingat manllBelow is an excerpt from a recent note I received from a woman:
“…If I remain calm and peaceful he takes it as a sign that he can walk all over me. Us women are so conditioned to take it all with a calm and sweet smile. What kind of world have we created for our daughters and us? Women in general are still dealing with a lot of oppression and inequality in our society. I do not know one woman that has not suffered from it in one way or another-- being bullied at home, on the street, at work, at school, a man controlling, belittling, not regarding women as equal, but something to dominate and manipulate. You are very fortunate if your husband does not take advantage of your calm composure. Many of us will only have to endure more laughing in our face and more oppression if we do not stand up, rock the boat and claim or human rights, whispering or screaming, ‘Enough! I can’t take this any more.’”

In my work with women over the years I have heard this sentiment over and over again.  In fact, I see this sentiment play out all over the world with both men and women.  In general, when people get angry they either bully through people with their anger or duck in the face of anger.  Some people duck then bully.  The end result is people behaving in the extremes.  Behaving in the extremes, though, is not helping us.  When we bully, we’re being abusive and when we’re ducking we’re allowing ourselves to be abused.  Neither of these responses is okay or effective.

It is true that women do indeed need to rock the boat.  It is also true that women continue to this day to be bullied, gawked at, controlled, belittled and treated as anything but equals by far too many people in the world.  It is not true, however, that women yelling about it is going to change anything.  In my work with women and couples, I see far too many women doing nothing but yelling…and it is NOT working.  If women scream and yell that they can’t take it anymore -- and then they stay there and take it -- their words mean nothing. 



Rocking the boat does not mean taking a bullhorn to the other person’s head and blowing their eardrums out.  It means truly changing the way the game is played.  Rocking the boat means stopping the yelling and screaming and seemingly meaningless threats and instead clearly stating what you want and then fully standing behind that statement.  Women need to get grounded -- not loud, crazy or aggressive.

Rocking the boat requires that women take risks.  Women have to be willing to risk upset, losing the relationship, increased anger, hurt feelings, etc.  The reason so many women just yell and scream is because to actually stand firmly and respectfully for what they want means they have to risk losing what they have.  The difference between yelling, “I’ve had enough. I can’t take it any more!” and actually standing behind that statement is: “I’m no longer willing to accept your poor treatment. Unless you get treatment for your anger (or alcohol or…) and start treating me well I will be looking at my options--including doing an inhouse seperation.  If you decide you won’t seek treatment then I will begin speaking with an attorney.  I will give you two weeks to decide your answer.”

Do not for a moment be fooled into thinking that your yelling and screaming is not taking poor treatment.  If the behavior is continuing and you’re still yelling, you’re still taking it...you’re just taking it angrily.  If it’s time to rock the boat, then rock it.  Don’t play with it and wonder why it’s not moving.

Challenge:  Stop the yelling, stop the silence and instead find your GPS.  A Grounded Powerful Strength is respectful and STRONG. Be clear about what is not okay for you, speak it, set a limit on it and if nothing changes, ACT on your limit. Creating change requires that you change what you're DOING. It is not enough to change what you're saying. Take a step back and instead of getting louder, get stronger. 

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And the man cashes in the "difficult" (meaning mature, brave, clear) woman for a twinkie who will take his crap and play little girl.

Once again, a formula for women being exhausted and alone. Men want twinkies they can dominate, mommies who will oooh over their boo boos, or dads who will dominate them. Not an equal.

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