I was raised to be polite. To give more than I take. To look for the best in others. To help my neighbour. To turn the other cheek. To have stellar manners. Say please and thank you. To forgive. To love others.
While all of these traits have moulded my character and values; in talking with a friend this week, I realized one has done harm to my spirit.
Politeness or rather Forced Politeness
There is a difference between manners and politeness. I am a woman and a Canadian sooo double double polite.
Now that I’m prettttty seasoned at being 40 something, I have been working on my intuition as I ignored it for much of adult life. You know that feeling you get when something feels off, and you don’t know why.
I have delved deep into the Why’s lately.
Why did I believe I was without choices?
Why didn’t I say something?
Why didn’t I put up boundaries?
Why did I think it was better for me to be uncomfortable than the very person who caused it?
I’m going to throw out a couple of examples of how Forced Politeness has effected my life in a negative way.
Example number 1: At a professional work place, I asked an older man if I could help him, to which he replied with a wink: “You sure could, but I can’t say out loud how I’d like you to help me.” I ignored it, and remained professional. Later, as he was leaving, he said:”God has given you a beautiful body and I’ve enjoyed looking at it.”
I just stood there with my mouth open, stunned and shaking with anger inside. First of all, he was an elder and so my brain thought: “maybe he doesn’t know in this era you can’t say things like that, he’s a senior citizen.” Secondly, I was at work and professionalism is important to me. I didn’t trust the words that were about to escape my lips.
Example number 2: There was a man at my gym who repeatedly ignored physical boundaries, he stood too close, interrupted workouts to ask nonsensical questions, and continually scanned the room. When he was done his workout, he would sit on the ledge of the boot rack for many minutes/sometimes a full workout time. He just sat there, large and in charge looking at his phone with his legs dangling down blocking the boot cubicles. He would not leave or motion to move when he saw women approach looking for their boots. This in turn forced women to ask him to move so they could gather their shoes. He wouldn’t get down; rather he would move his leg just enough to get your boots out of the cubicle. Sometimes I would politely ask him to move. Other times I would just stare at the cubicle and then at him so he would move. He did this for the entire time I went to that gym. If he was in the gym; he disrupted my workout, my inner peace (the whole reason I was there).
I am doing the work on Deprogramming that shit because boundaries and speaking up are necessary.
I will not teach my children to ignore their instincts when something feels off, uncomfortable, or wrong.
I will not force them to hug another hello or good bye if they do not want to.
I do not want my children to be in a situation where they feel unsafe or uncomfortable; but stay because they are worried about being impolite.
I talked to my daughter about it today. She agreed that forced politeness has caused her to silence her voice. I asked her why she would not speak up within these experiences, and very simply she told me she didn’t want to make another person feel uncomfortable. Ugh my heart
That is not OK. We would rather sit in the discomfort for the sake of another’s comfort; when their very actions do not show respect for our boundaries.
I don’t have the answers my friends…not yet anyway. But I’m writing about this today because I am going to change this. It’s important not only for my own peace and safety; but for my children’s too.
Please share with another and keep the conversation going if you too feel impacted by Forced Politeness. Share with those you feel safe to do so with.
And one day I hope my inner power will shine brightly enough that I feel confident to share with those who make me feel uncomfortable…even if my voice shakes.
From my heart to yours,