Here’s the problem: I am so sure in the heat of the moment that I am doing the right thing when I express my opinion, set a boundary or stick up for myself. Then ten minutes later that little voice inside my head begins to ask me unassuming questions like, “Are you sure that was the right thing to do?” “You caused that person harm, didn’t you?” “Wouldn’t it have been better just to have walked away?” “Was it that big of a deal?”
The voice is infuriating! I hate it! It robs me of my confidence and fills me with fear and self-doubt. Fear of what the other person thinks of me and of being wrong, and self-doubt for saying what I said.
Yesterday, my daughter and I went to a restaurant where they seat you. We stood there for five minutes watching a waiter wait tables and mop the floor, another waiter bus tables, and another worker behind the counter ringing out customers. All three of them saw us standing there. Half of the tables were filled with dirty dishes that needed to be bussed, so they were obviously short-staffed. The people in front of us walked out. No one even greeted us.
My daughter finally said, “Mom, let’s just go.” We walked out, and I told my daughter to head to the car. I went back into the restaurant and walked up to the woman (it was a woman, not a kid) bussing tables and told her how we were waiting to be seated for five minutes while she bussed tables and “I don’t think that’s right. I will be calling your manager.” She said, “I’m sorry, ma’am.” I turned around and left.
We went somewhere else for lunch then home. After getting home and sitting with myself for about ten minutes, thinking about what I did, the guilt started to creep in. What if I upset her? Ruined her day? Made her cry? Pushed her over the edge to suicide? I know, I know – catastrophic thinking on my part, but this is where my mind takes me.
Then I realized: I am not responsible for other people’s feelings. I didn’t attack her personally. I did not degrade her, verbally assault or abuse her, threaten her safety or well-being, or even yell at or embarrass her, or make a scene. I simply explained the situation, shared my opinion about it, and told her what my plan was.
Am I justifying my behavior? I am not sure. I just know I needed to let someone in there know how unacceptable their service was and she was the only one that I saw who could have easily seated us. Although even if she had, I can’t say we would have gotten served anytime soon after that.
Do you ever second guess yourself after expressing your opinion or sticking up for yourself?
I think the most important thing I learned from this, and now, after looking back on a lot of the times I have doubted myself after expressing my opinion about things, is that I have a great fear of, one, what others think of me and, two, of being wrong. Those two fears really drive many, if not all, of my behaviors.
How to get rid of these fears – that is the question. Any ideas?