I have suffered from the need for validation from a young age. Wanting a person's approval, I often acquiesce in situations where I might actually disagree. Recovery has taught me that I can be triggered by domineering personality types and that I can handle any situation as long as I stay calm and practice spiritual principles.
Physiologically, I am no different than any other person who reacts in a high stress environment. Like a man confronted by a sabre tooth tiger, I will either fight or flight (run) when faced with this stressor. Same goes for conversations with difficult, overbearing people. In early recovery, I first had to learn how not to drink in the face of such triggers. Many years later, I am working how to remain calm and access my faculties in such situations. I don't want to just not drink, I want to grow up.
I can see my progress. I used to automatically shut down when a bullying type of person raised his or her voice and made demands. My silence said I could be pushed into submission. My submission led to shame and more fear. Even though I didn't drink, I still felt bad about myself for accepting unacceptable treatment and not speaking up for myself.
Just today, a never satisfied physician from my biggest account at work let me know that unless I found a solution to his insurance contracting dilemma, he was going to stop using my company's incredible product. His account amounts to 13% of my total territory volume. I was driving a car and could feel myself become agitated. A small voice within said, "Stay calm, assure him that you are hearing him and let him know you will take his problem seriously.".
After I hung up with the doctor, I shared my reaction with my business partner at work. She said you did well, but maybe next time someone puts the pressure on while I am driving, simply ask the person if I can meet with them in person to discuss the matter further.
She has an amazing way of remaining calm in high stress situations. She knows what to say and I am still a work in progress. Recovery teaches me not to compare-rather to utilize what I learn from her. My partner is not in recovery like me. My partner is older than me. My partner has more life experience than me. She dealt with a narcissistic overbearing ex-husband for eighteen years. She's lived a lifetime of training and I am so blessed to have her as my role model.
I handled the doctor better than I would have fifteen years ago and now, I have more tools in my tool box the next time a situation like this comes up. My validation will never come from letting bullies bully me into submission. And, it will never come from getting angry and retaliating. Instead, it comes from reciting the serenity prayer, buying myself some time and being inspired and led to better solutions.