A Bringer of New Things

Musings on personal growth, books, motherhood, writing, and more.

On Assertiveness and People Who Make Us Spindly

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Ladybug on a weed hanging over a bean plant

While pulling weeds on Sunday, I mused on weeds-related life analogies, and one struck me as perhaps worth sharing.

My father-in-law told me to pull just the weeds right around the bean plants (the others he’d get with his mattock) because, he said, the weeds steal the bean plants’ nutrients and energy and “make them spindly.”

In the same way, sometimes people in our lives sap our physical and emotional energy and make us “spindly.”

You know what I’m talking about. The coworker or classmate who relies on you to feed his habit of laziness. The woman at church who’s always asking you to volunteer for stuff and won’t take no for an answer. The friends who dump their problems and sob stories on you without caring about and listening to you in return. And so on.

These people act as weeds in our lives. Unless we have abundant energy and resources to share with these people (and I think most of us don’t) and are consciously choosing to serve these people at our own expense, this is a problem. In other words, when our choice is not active but passive—we just say yes because it’s too hard to say no—we let our “weeds” suck up our energy, and we become spindly.

However—we are not only the bean plants, trying to grow; we are also the gardener. We can pull out the weeds and tend to our needs—perform self-care—by speaking up about what we need and want.

If you’re like me, someone with long-ingrained habits of passive behavior, you don’t always know right away what you need and want. But what I’m finding is that the more times I stand up for my needs, the easier it gets to see them.

Some cases are easier than others. Saying no to an increasingly burdensome new acquaintance, disagreeing with someone during a discussion, and setting personal boundaries with family members are all very different matters.

But in all cases, when we practice self-care and assertiveness—when we act as the gardeners of our own lives and hearts—we’ll be healthier, stronger, and more fruitful people.

“We allow others to trespass upon our lives…No one is to be found who is willing to distribute his money, yet among how many does each of us distribute his life!”
– A.C. Grayling, The Good Book, p. 76


4 comments on “On Assertiveness and People Who Make Us Spindly

  1. emilievardaman
    June 18, 2014

    Wonderful analogy! Thanks.


  2. typosandterseness
    June 19, 2014

    It’s so important to learn to recognize the weeds in our lives and find our courage to create a life where we are less and less entangled with those weeds. Thank you for reminding me that it’s okay to say “no.”


    • Sarrah J. Woods
      June 19, 2014

      You’re welcome, and thanks for reading! Being “entangled” with the weeds in our lives—that’s a great way to put it. Here’s to untangling ourselves!


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