We all have a snapping point and it can change our world when it happens.
I remember the first time I stood up for myself. I was 10. The bully up the street came over and we had just finished wrestling (as boys tend to do). I was done. He wasn’t.
I sat down, tired, and not interested in wrestling anymore. And he came up to me and said, “Come on, let’s wrestle some more.” I was like, “Nope, I’m done. I’m too tired, and don’t want to wrestle anymore.”
He further badgered me, “Come on, let’s wrestle again!”
“No. I don’t want to.”
He steps in close and says once again, “Come on!” Then he lightly slaps my face to try and get me started.
Sternly, I spoke, “No… I’m done!”
He wouldn’t let it go. He became more aggressive and said, “Let’s go, let’s just wrestle a little more. Come on!” Again, slapping my face lightly.
My blood started to boil. I said “No” and I meant it, yet here I was, being urged to do something I didn’t want to do. Then suddenly, I felt my hand turn into a fist. I felt as if I were being influenced and guided like a puppet.
I stood up, twisted my body, and raise my arm to swing my fist at his face.
POW! I connected with his cheek and he went to the ground holding both hands over his mouth.
I felt no fear, no excitement, no anxiety. Just… nothing.
I sat down calmly, then spoke softly the words: “I told you I didn’t want to wrestle anymore.”
In what seemed like 5 minutes. I sat there, still not very emotionally affected at all, while he lay on the floor holding his jaw.
He got up, walked out of the house, and went home.
I don’t remember how I felt after he left, but I do remember the calmest feeling when it was all taking place. As if a part of me said, “I got this, don’t worry.”
Up until that time, I had been a real pushover. The neighborhood bully forced me to be his friend mainly because I didn’t know how to say “no”. I was afraid to stand up for myself and hated confrontation.
But, there’s only so long you can be forced to do something you don’t want to do until you snap. The buildup that preceded my snapping point had been going on for over a year or more and the right combination of elements came together. And in that moment, I had enough of his bullying, and I “snapped”, taking the ultimate stand.
That felt good.
The next day, he apologized. He called me on the phone and said he and his mom were going to get Chinese food and asked if I wanted to go with them.
Honestly, I didn’t want to do anything with him ever again. I really hated him. But on the call, I was no longer this calm, powerful person I was the night before. I actually felt my old self kicking back in. I lost my machismo and courage and became who I used to be.
I said, “Sure, I’ll go.” And it was like nothing ever happened. I felt like I was being forced to be his friend again. And I never snapped with him again.
All those years, when I felt like I had to be this bully’s friend, were quite grueling for me. You’d think that once I snapped and knocked him down, I’d have this sense of empowerment and self-confidence. And in that brief moment, I did!
But within 12 hours, I let my old personality return. And by the end of the next day, I was back to my old passive, fearful, pushover self.
In fact, I never got to experience that snapping point again, at least for another 20+ years. The next time it happened, I didn’t have to punch anyone. I just had to realize one thing:
I am important.
I am important enough to honor and respect myself and protect myself from things I don’t want in my life.
The next snapping point I am referring to is another story for another time, but let’s just say it felt good to honor myself for the first time in decades. When I had that second snapping point in my 30s, I decided that I was older and wiser than before so I chose to embrace that empowerment feeling and keep it from that point on.
And I have. And ever since then, I have chosen to confront and honor myself more often than not. Sure there are times I choose not to (I pick my battles wisely), but I always treat myself as if I were my own best friend.
How do you treat your own best friend?
That’s a great perspective to have when it comes to honoring yourself. Would you stand up for your best friend? Most of the time, you probably would. But sometimes, you may not.
Would you stand up for your child? If you treated yourself as your own child, that makes it a lot more personal, doesn’t it?
After my snap in my thirties, I remember thinking something to the effect of, “I will always honor myself even if the consequences may be unpleasant.” This was a philosophy I’ve chosen to adopt and continue to use today. It’s the foundation for much of how I live today, even when the consequences of doing so may be unpleasant.
Do you honor yourself when there’s a chance it could lead to unpleasant circumstances? Or do you hold back and let people walk all over you so that you’re honoring their boundaries over yours?
If you’ve spent a lifetime honoring other people’s boundaries at the cost of violating your own (like I did at the beginning of this article), then maybe it’s time for a different perspective of yourself. Developing compassion for yourself. Be your own best friend. Be your own dad or mom!
Stand up for yourself when “you” can’t do it. In other words, you’re not the fearful child anymore in a dangerous situation, you’re an adult in a completely different environment. And standing in as the adult will help you keep your dignity and live authentically.
This is how you take care of you.
That’s what I want for you.