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Speaking Up for Myself

David Spero

September 24, 2008

Did you ever notice how a lot of people teach the things they aren’t good at? Like ex-drug addicts who go around warning kids about the dangers of drugs. That’s why, for example, a lot of preachers tend to be among the worst sinners.

Well, I’m the same way.

I’m always telling people to speak up for themselves, to be assertive. “Don’t say yes when you want to say no.” “Let people know what you really want.” “Don’t put other people’s wants ahead of your own needs.” I say things like that and wrote about them in my book The Art of Getting Well and on some Web sites.

But do I speak up for my own self? Not very often, I’m afraid. I’ve always been a passive sort of guy who tries to avoid trouble. There’s a place for “going along to get along,” but dealing with a chronic illness is not that place. Now that “niceness” is causing problems in a couple of places.

My partner, Aisha, likes to tell me about her life at some length. I don’t mind listening for a while, but I get tired or have other things to do. But I’m not good at gently letting her know that I’ve had enough. I’m afraid of hurting her feelings or making her mad.

There’s a similar issue with this Web site I work on (not DSM). We have these phone meetings where some of the people go on and on without getting to the point. It makes me really tired. I do put the phone down sometimes and just rest. (They rarely notice.) But I haven’t figured out how to tell them to shut up. (Nicely, of course—they are paying me.)

Speaking up With Diabetes
I think that these issues apply a lot of times in living with diabetes. How do you tell your aunt you don’t want to eat the cake she baked for you? How do you explain that you’re going for a walk after dinner instead of watching the sitcom with your family? Or explain to your boss that you are going to take your break even if it’s busy, or whatever.

Is that right? Do you find assertiveness to be an important part of self-management? What kind of advice can you give me and our readers? I’m especially interested in hearing from people who didn’t speak up for themselves but have now learned how to do it. Comment here, or visit me at www.davidsperorn.com.



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