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Taking a stand

Laura Capell-Abra, founder of Stress Matters, faces down a big challenge.

I’m feeling just a little bit proud of myself this month and I can share with you a personal disclosure: for nearly 20 years I have had a really challenging relationship with a member of my extended family. It is one of those relationships where lots of small things have added up to not feeling comfortable in their presence but feeling a sense of loyalty to still be involved in family events. Their personality is big and to me, intimidating and aggressive. I told you 2020 was going to be my year of action, and this month I’ve done something, and it feels great.

I told that person that they made me feel uncomfortable, I told them my reasons and I told them what I wanted from our relationship going forward. That 30-minute conversation for me was a major event but I fully appreciate on the outside it sounds like barely anything. I finally felt that in my late 30s, I was finally grown-up enough to deal with it. The level of anxiety on the build-up to that conversation stopped me sleeping and my heart was pounding and there felt like a high chance I’d back out, but I did it.

Now it’s done, I have finally acknowledged something which I knew all along: they are not going to change, our relationship is not going to change, but what is going to change is how much I let it impact me. I’m done with someone else impacting how I feel, I don’t want them to have that level of control over me.

In a way I hope that none of you have that challenging relationship at work or home that you want to address but what I can tell you is that if you do build up your confidence to say something to them, they might not change but you will. You will be empowered again by taking a stand. Whether that bully is at work, at home, or in the playground, they don’t win if we show them that we can stand up for ourselves.

We can control the level of anxiety other people make us feel, we just need to have a little bit of faith in ourselves.