The problem with letting things slide

If you get someone used to treating you a certain way or acting in a particular way towards you, the person will come to expect you to allow it.

Sometimes you allow things that you aren’t okay with because you don’t want to rock the boat, hurt the persons feelings or you’ve told yourself that being clear about what you’re not okay with is confrontational. And so instead of saying, ‘I’m not okay with you doing that’ you say, ‘No worries’ or ‘It’s okay’.

Doing this teaches the other person that you’re okay with what they’re doing. We often fall into the idealism of thinking people will automatically know what we’re thinking or feeling but it’s not true. We shouldn’t expect people to read our minds when we can use our voices.

I’m not sure who said it but there’s a quote or perhaps a tweet that goes something like ‘You have to teach people how to treat you’. Yet, we’re taught to almost just accept how we’re treated as long as a person doesn’t have bad intentions.

I find that the relationships where I am very clear, where I call things out instead of letting them slide, are the ones that I feel most comfortable in. When you put pressure on yourself to always be fine with everything even when you’re not it builds up feelings of resentment, anger or frustration and that energy has to go somewhere.

It either leads to an outburst towards the person you should have been clear with from the start or an outburst at someone totally unrelated to the situation.

Let them get it wrong

When teaching someone how to do something, you have to let them get it wrong.

It may be easier to jump in just before the mistake, error or failure occurs and rectify things. But this brings little benefit in the long run.

In the short run, the person may feel supported which is a good thing. But too much support leads a lack of independence and self-reliance. Instead they become reliant on you being there.

It teaches the person that they don’t have to work things out for themselves because someone will come along to make things right. It may also lead to this person not trying because you’ve showed them that you won’t allow them to fail.

The reason you step in before things go wrong is because you want them to get it right. However, you have to give people space to learn things for themselves and that includes getting things wrong.

So much more than the room you’re sitting in

When you’re a kid, not learning in a lesson or not being interetsed in the subject or topic being taught can happen when you don’t like the person teaching you.

At a young age some people totally rule out subjects like Math, Science, History or Art simple because of who the information is coming from.

But when you get older, when you’re at the age where you’ve picked the subject that you study you focus much less on who is teaching you because the stakes are higher and you’re choosing to be there.

In England you choose your GCSE subjects at 13, you’re A-levels at 15 and your Degree at 17. By the time you get to University, so much has changed. You’re studying something that you have picked for yourself and you’re now paying to be there.

When you’re 12 and don’t like your History teacher, don’t pay attention and perform poorly in class you can always say ‘Well, I don’t even care about this class, it’s boring’. Not much happens as a result of you getting a low grade when you’re 12. You have to be in school because it’s the law however, it’s free.

Now let’s skip forward to being 19 and doing a Civil Engineering degree. If you choose to not pay attention because you don’t like your Structural Engineering lecturer no one is going to force you to listen or make an effort.

But you could end up failing the module or even therefore failing the course overall. This might mean you have to resit an exam or you could end up changing your entire career plans. Nobody had to go to university, it’s a choice and it costs around £9000 every year.

The older you get, the less it matters who the information is coming from because you realise that it shouldn’t have really mattered in the first place. Overtime, you also realise that your end goal will always be so much more than the room you’re sitting in, the module you’re learning or even the course you’ve chosen to study.

Learning to open up

One of the biggest reasons to open up is that it helps you realise that you aren’t alone.

So often we live our lives as if we are the only one who has faced a difficulty, felt lonely, been rejected, felt lost or was unhappy with the way they looked. We end up holding it in because we think we’re alone or perhaps we don’t want to burden others with our troubles.

I’ve taught myself to open up more. It was a mix of practice, knowing who to trust and letting go of fear.

And so when I encourage you to do the same, it’s not because I find it easy. It’s because I’ve done it and it worked wonders.