Getting more aggressive as I age

woman-placein-unionAggressive is the only word I can think of but I wouldn’t really call it that.  For the better part of my life, I never said no to anyone.  Not for almost anything.  If anyone from school, church or the boys sports teams wanted anything, it was, call Joy, she always says yes.

It’s even kind of funny but I got my job in the school because I was always there anyway. The principal called me one day and asked if I could help on the playground a week from Friday and I thought it was a volunteer job so when I got there and had to sign a W-2, I wondered what was up.  I got teased about that for years.

I taught Bible school and was a Sunday school teacher. There were even a number of years that I was room mother to both boys.  I would have to drive from school to school during a classroom party. I also can’t even remember when I didn’t go on a field trip with them.  I was always “team mom” for every sport they played.  I loved it and it never really bothered me.  The only time it really got to be to much when on was on the PTO board.  I was just gone to much and my kids and I never really got to enjoy any school functions together because I was always “working” them.  I did it for a few years and then gave it up.  It was taking to much from my kids.

I have now gotten to the point that if I don’t want to do something, I say so.  Can you imagine that my mom told me very recently that I’m not as “nice” as I used to be!?!?!  Ummm, thanks loads!  I used to do “all holidays” and if we had family gatherings, they were always at my house and I was always the one doing all the work.  If anyone asked anything of me, I never said no.  I guess I’ve been a “yes-man” all my life.

I don’t do this anymore.  I’m not sure when it changed or when I stopped being “nice.” Maybe it just slowly happened and I didn’t really even think about it until it was so “nicely” pointed out to me by my mother!!  If I don’t want to go somewhere or I don’t want to do something, I say so. Maybe I’ve just come to think that I’m 51 years old and if I don’t do what I want to do and what I enjoy to do, I never will if I don’t do it now.

What I’m wondering though is if you don’t do what people want you to do or what they ask you to do, does that mean you’re not nice? That doesn’t seem reasonable to me.  Or is it just because it’s the way I was and people just got used to that and now that I’ve started standing up a little for myself and they don’t like the change, they’ve now declared “Joy’s not nice?”

What is “nice” anyway?  If I ask someone to do something and they say no for whatever reason, I don’t think they’re not nice.  I think maybe they have other plans or they don’t feel like doing it but I don’t think they’re mean.

What do you consider a nice person?  Do you think in order to be a nice person you need to be a doormat?

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23 Responses to Getting more aggressive as I age

  1. Doraz says:


    # pleasant or pleasing or agreeable in nature or appearance;
    # decent: socially or conventionally correct; refined or virtuous;
    # done with delicacy and skill;
    # dainty: excessively fastidious and easily disgusted;

    It does not say you have to be a doormat and you are not allowed to say NO! I just got a NICE MATTERS AWARD from Kristi, and I say NO to people…all the time!

    You count in life, just like everyone else!
    I keep my life in a “BALANCE.”
    If not, you go crazy…in a bad way!!!! 🙂

  2. javajunkee says:

    OH HELL NO! I wiped the “welcome” off my f’ing face a few years ago.

    it pretty much says..”do I look like a f’ing people pleaser to you?”

    having said that…I can be caring when there is a time and a place for it but it’s not something I’m going to be pushed into because somebody else feels it’s time

    did that sound bitchy? Did I mention PMS?

  3. SKL says:

    I still have a lot of trouble saying no. I can do it if I try, but I feel very guilty about it. It would be nice if people would think before they ask – is this person already going above and beyond? Is there someone else who isn’t pulling his weight? Shouldn’t we go bug that guy? Why do people always put helpful folks in an awkward position and force us to disappoint?

    Having kids AND a job does make it easier for me to say no. No, I can’t attend this school thing because I have a job. No, I can’t attend this professional thing because I have kids. As long as it’s not because “I don’t want to,” most people accept it, but why shouldn’t I be allowed to do what I want to do too?

    I think I recently lost a friend because I was doing so much for her, and then I had to stop because of the other demands in my life. I haven’t heard from her since. It’s like everything I did up to then got wiped out in an instant.

    It gets to the point where I’m scared to get involved in any new activities because I don’t want to be under this kind of pressure.

  4. JavaQueen says:

    This took me a long time to figure out. But, I finally did. I use to say yes to everyone for everything. Then, I’d be so disappointed because when I’d ask, they would say no – – I thought there was something wrong with me, like I was too emotional or something. Then I read a book called “Boundaries” that literally set me free of this song and dance.. It taught me that if people could tell me “no” I had to respect that but IN TURN, I also counted- and could say no. All of a sudden, my yes’s meant yes- and I did things with a happy heart and my no’s meant NO.

    I don’t think it’s “not nice” as much as you have developed your boundaries. Why shouldn’t you have them? People do not like it when someone isn’t running at their beck and call all of a sudden. That’s why the resistance.

    You are a huge sweetheart- very intelligent and insightful. We have to stand up for ourselves because if we don’t, who is going to?

  5. DM says:

    I loved this post. I am cut out of the same cloth as you Joy-had a very hard time ever saying “No” for loads of personal reasons- insecurity, wanting people to like me, not realizing some people are good at manipulation and I didn’t realize it, etc. as a couple of you already said, it is a boundary issue. I took an assertiveness worksho through our local community college several years ago…you would enjoy it. they went over several concepts…difference between agressive and assertiveness, how to say now nicely, went over something called the “assertiveness Bill of Rights”:

    I have the right to be the ultimate judge of my own behavior, thoughts, and emotions, and to take the responsibility for their initiation and consequences upon myself.
    I have the right to offer no reasons or excuses to justify my behavior.
    I have the right to judge whether I am responsible for finding solutions to other people’s problems.
    I have the right to change my mind.
    I have the right to make mistakes – and to be responsible for them.
    I have the right to say, “I don’t know.”
    I have the right to be independent of the goodwill of others before coping with them.
    I have the right to make decisions without using logic.
    I have the right to say, “I don’t understand.”
    I have the right to say, “I don’t care.”
    Anyway, I am excited for you that you are not quite so “nice” as you once were….my wife has also been on that same journey and as unsettling as it sometimes is to see her speak her mind when in the past she may have been a “door mat” I feel like I’m getting to know the real person. The other thing is, I believe a lot of depression and emotional issues results if we always defer and stuff things…it just sets down in there in our soul somewhere and festers… boy I could write a blog post on this one.

    • Joy says:

      You know DM, “assertiveness” is the exact word I was looking and searching for when I was writing this and I couldn’t for the life of me think of it. You know what’s so funny about it is the people who’ve told me my whole life to be more assertive are the ones who hate it now that I am. I guess they only mean I should be assertive for “other people.”

      I also realize that people treat you the way you allow them to treat you and it’s really my fault because I never stood up to myself when I was younger.

      • SKL says:

        Joy, that is so true: you should be more assertive toward “other” people! I get this from all sides! I also know it’s my own fault, yet it is still wrong for people to be inconsiderate and keep asking just because they “can.”

  6. mssc54 says:

    N: Not
    I: Irritated
    C: Constantly with
    E: Everyone

    This really needs to be addressed on so many different levels.

    The person asking you to do something: are the chronic “askers”.

    The “thing” being asked: will it betray your values?

    The timing: is it a good fit for YOU?

    Joy, I’ll bet if you (purposely) look at the things you do for others WITHOUT being asked you can answer the question of are you nice or not very easily.

    Don’t let anyone guilt you into anything.

  7. pammy wammy says:

    Joy you are one of the nicest and sweetest people I no.Not doing something that someone thinks you should,has nothing to do with you not being nice.We do what feels right for us.I was a doormat for many years,its not a fun way to live.I actually took a course on self esteem.The first thing we learned was to say NO.That was a hard exercise.But we do not need to be anyones doormat.Life is way too short.Those who truly love you for who you are,they dont mind the “NO,S” they recieve from us.You should be so proud of yourself for standing up for you.Saying no is ok.Cause when you really want to say yes,you put your all into it and have fun.Then thats when the real you comes alive.Thats all that counts.

  8. pammy wammy says:

    Joy,one more thing.I have known you all my life.As a kid I looked up to you.I admire you and how far you have come,what you have all overcomed.You are an awesome LADY.I am proud of who you have become today and I have always been proud of you.I am honored to call you FAMILY.

    • Joy says:

      Thanks Pam. There have been a lot of bumps along the way haven’t there?? You and I are a lot alike. It’s that old Froom Club thing again 🙂 You are the only person in the world who can reduce me to giggles in seconds. I appreciate you being in my life and just wish we lived closer to each other.

  9. nikki says:

    Yea you know I’m a lot like you. I also am learning hopefully, to not be a walking door mat. I have such a hard time telling anyone no. For me it’s because I don’t like when people are upset with me so I try to make everyone happy and tend to forget about ME. Never do I stop to think well, maybe I should put my own feelings about this first instead of pushing them aside. I’m getting there, but it’s a tough thing to let go of. I have to realize it doesn’t really matter if they get upset with me. If they love me they will respect my decision and get over it.
    If people think you are mean just because you won’t do a certain something for them, what does that say about your relationship? My sister gave this little quote tome yesterday and I think it’s very fitting for this post!
    “Today, I will let things happen without worrying about the significance of each event. I will trust that this will bring about my growth faster than running around with a microscope. I will trust my lessons to reveal themselves in their own time!!!!”
    AND you are SO not a mean person in anyway! You have just learned to stand up for yourself! I think it’s a wonderful thing!!!

  10. Just a Mom says:

    I have been a doormat for the majority of my life. In the past 2 1/2 years I have been through a lot of personal changes and I have learned that my voice counts and it WILL be heard! Now all of a sudden I am “no longer fun!” So I know exactly how you feel!
    I can now tell people “this is who I am if you don’t like it go away” and not feel guilty for saying so!

  11. Gary says:

    I don’t think you have to be a doormat to be a nice person by ANY means. I never have been a doormat but have always been pretty well liked. I also don’t expect others to be a doormat for me!

    A nice person to me would be……

    Someone that treats others with respect and values their opinions and ideas.

    Polite and likes to smile. 😉

    Not a doormat! It’s OK to say NO!

  12. kweenmama says:

    I was also going to suggest the word “assertive.” There is nothing wrong with being assertive. I was a doormat my entire first marriage and have vowed NEVER AGAIN! There is nothing wrong with taking care of yourself and saying no to the things that will simply waste your time.

  13. Mary says:

    Just wondering, how many of the people who’ve responded that they’ve had trouble saying no or being assertive are women? I’ve had precisely the same issues and I do believe some of this comes from being brought up with the expectation that I will do whatever I’m told. (Does that sound like a parental order? Yah, you betcha!) When you’re a kid, especially a female kid, you aren’t given an option to say no by most of the authority figures in your life. It’s all “Do it because I say so, or regret the consequences.” It takes a half a lifetime to overcome this.

    • Joy says:

      I feel that’s a big part of it Mary. That and being I’m the only “girl” and I think people think, it’s easier for me. Whatever that means.

  14. Adell says:

    This was a good post Joy. Lots of books have been written on the subject. So many people have trouble saying no for fear people won’t like them. We usually call these people, “people pleasers”. I was one of them once.
    We go through different experiences and grow mature and then realize that it is okay to put up boundaries and say the word, “no” and feel good about it. When I was young I thought every time I was asked to do a job, that I had to say yes. We are the ones that have to take responsiblity for how much we take on. No one else will. I found that my hubby really helped me to sort out how much to do. Like you mentioned, sometimes your own family gets short changed in the process of helping others. We should do all with a cheerful and joyful heart otherwise we get frustrated and complain and just plain hate what we are doing. 50 is the year of Jubilee in the Bible…it’s so good for you Joy at your age to become assertive and more free to express yourself. Love you

  15. SKL says:

    I don’t know, I have a sister who has no problem at all saying no! So I’m not sure our upbringing is at “fault.” I personally tend to be insecure and I really think that’s how I was born. I don’t blame it on my mom because I remember her begging me to think more of myself, and neither of my sisters is like me. My mom used to tell me I should be a lawyer when I grew up because she thought I was smart, etc., but I couldn’t see myself being capable of that; I actually thought I might flunk the teacher licensing boards. I do think more women tend to be insecure (and thus too eager to please), but I’m not sure it’s the result of nurture as opposed to nature.

  16. starlaschat says:

    Such a good post Joy I really enjoyed it as well as peoples thoughtful and helpful comments. I like the idea of 50 the year of jubilee. I think people like family sometimes have a hard time with this change I know mine has with me. I have found I have to be consistent with standing up for myself, over and over. And I think some of my family would prefer me to be not so assertive or to do what they say. But I am not happy this way it is hard for me sometimes to stand up for myself and to say simply no. Ive gone around a little bit with this with my mother in law. LOL It’s really hard for me but I feel to honor my self to be true to myself and to Love them the best way I can I need to be OK with this. Boy I could just go on and on about this I just think it is so important. A lot of really good things have been said. So I would say Well done and Good job!!! ;+) . I know this is difficult especially with Family.

  17. goldenamber says:

    There is a huge difference between aggressive and assertive. You my dear are assertive.

    That is a good thing..

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