You may be surprised to know that when I was studying to become a psychologist, I co-led assertiveness training groups. Sure, I may appear meek and mild–my co-leader was a better role model than me–but I do know how to stand my ground when I need to. Despite my assertiveness expertise, I’m in a situation that I’m not handling well.
A person whose path I cross on a fairly regular basis has been trying to offer some healing nutritional advice of late. Every time I see her. Without fail. Let’s call her Ms. P. (P for Persistent? Pushy? You choose.) And no, it’s not you. The intervention she suggested today is supposed to purify my blood. It’s a little late for that, don’t you think?
Ms. P. is not picking up on my repeated and direct feedback that I’m not interested. I leave each interaction feeling both stressed at the pressure she’s exerting and worried that I have offended her. This is not good.
I am not trying to malign this lovely woman who certainly means well. I do not like being rude or cutting anyone off because I’m just not that kind of person. And I need to learn to deal with Ms. P. since we will have ongoing contact over the next while.
I also know that I bring my personal biases to this situation. I am closed minded and rigid on health matters. It’s Western-medicine way or the highway. I listen to what my physicians tell me and no one else. I figure if my doctors struggle as much as they do to keep me stable, I can’t mess things up by throwing anything else into the mix. No nutritional supplements, no herbal medicines, no vitamins, nothing that my doctors haven’t prescribed. Heck, sometimes I won’t even follow my own doctors’ directives before checking with the other doctors involved in my care.
If your beliefs differ from mine, more power to you. You’ll have more tools in your health arsenal than I have. I just warn you that I’m not open to those tools for my own reasons, and I hope you can understand and respect that.
You’ll appreciate that, however well meaning Ms. P.’s advice is, I’m going to decline it. As I tried to explain to her today, my body is very complicated, and I won’t use methods that aren’t suggested by my docs. I’m also not going to run her ideas by all of my doctors, which I would need to do before I initiated anything new. I’m being pretty direct, aren’t I?
I’ve given this woman the same message four times now, each time reaffirming my position. In assertiveness speak, we call my response style the “broken record”. (I’ve inserted this picture for you young pups who have no idea what a record is.) That is, if the person isn’t getting my message, I calmly repeat my position again and again until she hears it. Try this with an aggressive salesperson sometime. It works like a charm.
Except that my broken record isn’t working, maybe because I’m too worried about offending Ms. P. to be firm with her. If Ms. P. suggests any more alternative interventions, I’ll tell her that I do not want to talk with her about my health anymore ever (I’ll say it in italics so she can hear it). Hopefully that will be the end of that. If not, screaming and yelling may be my only alternative. Funny, I don’t remember teaching those methods in my assertiveness groups.