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finishing this article to avoid getting defocused and lost..
one of a series of lesson-4 articles on how to optimize your relationships.
This article assumes you're familiar with...
This brief YouTube video about
"difficult people" previews some
of what you'll read in this article. The video mentions eight
self-improvement lessons here - I've reduced that to seven.
The Surface Problem
means "to make timid (fearful)."
It occurs when one person feels
significant anxiety about someone else's aggression ("I'll cause you discomfort!"),
stressful conflict, violence, and/or the
loss of some prize. Blackmail is a classic form of intimidation.
So are religious threats of "eternal damnation" and "burning in a lake
Intimidation is usually not an isolated stressor, but one of a
web of surface and underlying problems, like aggression, hostility,
superiority, egotism, dislike, disrespect, and distrust. It often occurs
because the intimidator is (a) psychologically
wounded and controlled by a
false self; and/or s/he (b) doesn't know how to
assert and negotiate filling needs respectfully.
I assume you're reading this because you or someone you care for
feel too intimidated by someone and you seek an effective way of
reacting to that. If so, the surface problem is your feeling intimidated
(scared), not the other person's threatening behavior.
How can you raise your self-confidence and stay grounded in the face of
Identify and Reduce the
Start by sorting out what you
can affect and what you
make the other person
hear (understand and agree with) me
control how the other person perceives me,
my actions, or
reason logically with
the other person
change the law
Note that you can affect more things
than you can't. If your
reaction is "Yes, but
...", a well-intentioned
probably rules you.
1) Your first option is to
decide whether or not to take
responsibility for changing the things you can in order to reduce your
fears. For perspective, consider this old Chinese folktale:
Once upon a time, a fierce
forest tiger caused a village to live in terror. It ate livestock at will,
and even killed several children and adults. The villagers hired a hunter,
and trapped the tiger. Respecting life, they built a stout bamboo cage for
him in the center of the village.
For many years, the tiger slept, and paced endlessly around the cage. The
grandchildren of the original villagers finally said - our tiger is old and
toothless. We should let him return to his forest to die in peace. They
dismantled the cage, and all gathered to see their old friend set free.
The tiger was bewildered. He looked around at the strange bar-less scene,
and at the nearby forest. Then he resumed pacing his measured square,
walking the boundaries of the cage that was no longer there.
How can you free yourself from your invisible cage of anxiety?
2) Envision a life where
cause you significant anxiety. Retain that vision as an achievable goal, even if you
don't know how yet.
3) Invest time and effort in self-improvement
Lesson 1, with these objectives:
to identify and meet your personality subselves, including learning
which of them is causing your self-doubts and fears (usually one or
more Inner Kids, and your Worrier, Magician, Pessimist,
Procrastinator, and Catastrophizer).
identify which of these subselves
distrust your true Self, and work patiently to earn their trust over
time - i.e. to
your Self (capital "S") to guide you..
Notice your thoughts and feelings now. How do these four options compare
with your normal responses to intimidation?
Reading this article will not increase your ability to stay grounded -
you'll have to try these options to experience their
power. Are you willing to do that now?
This Lesson-4 article defines interpersonal "intimidation," and proposes that
it is not the problem - your anxiety is. Then it proposes four
practical options toward increasing your self-confidence and ability to
assert effective boundaries and consequences with threatening people.
The options begin with
accepting full responsibility for reducing your anxieties and clarifying
what you can and cannot control. Then patiently studying and
Lessons 1 and 2 will help you grow firm and calm in the face of
intimidation. There are many other personal and social