How do we (you) live in a hostile environment?

The main ideas of

  • assertiveness may not be at the expense of others.
  • Self-esteem requires us to constant inner work.
  • Self-assessment should reflect our deep understanding of ourselves.


How do we (you) live in a hostile environment?

Every day we are faced with a lot of reasons to doubt the self-importance. The fact that we - good people who deserve respect. This morning, a passerby hurt us shoulder and did not think to apologize. Yesterday the bank employee did not bother not only smiles, but even a glance. Pets are irritated because of nonsense, as if forgetting that we too are working and do not get tired less of them ... And the boss perceives us as a production equipment, which is not supposed to make mistakes, worry or feel bad. And that's not to mention the constant clashes in a traffic stream, or in a crowded supermarket. What's happening? Are we - become invisible? Or absolutely nobody cares about us?

Dangerous Freedom

Perhaps it does not in us. Social psychologist Takhir Bazarov believes that such actions of others that can undermine self-esteem - a consequence of rigid, individualistic understanding of freedom: "Freedom - is a necessary condition for the implementation of a strong personality. But for the weak it turns a huge challenge. The temptation to prove himself, to prove their strength and importance - not where it is really needed, and in the small everyday situations and due to the humiliation of others - is too great. " However, self-centered view of freedom can hardly be considered the invention of our time. The English philosopher Thomas Hobbes in the XVII century, wrote: "Freedom - is a complete absence of obstacles that can rob me of the forces and prevent me to do what I want." * Psychoanalysis interprets this behavior as the predominance of instinctual urges and defend the absolute right to pleasure. The combination of these motives take lower level in mental model proposed by Sigmund Freud, and is called "It" **. In order to see how many people are at the mercy of "It" and shares the views of Hobbes, just go to the bus.

A typical scene: a young man, over the noise of the motor that is shouting into the phone. A neighbor, reading a newspaper, politely asked him to speak more quietly. "If you want quiet - in a taxi ezzhaj!" - calmly replied the young man. In the language of psychoanalysis, this means: "My right to act as it pleases is more important than your right to read. And it's not me disrespect, but you blatantly require me of my right to refuse. " 57-year-old Nina, who rides the subway every day, sighs: "Of course, much earlier in our country was wrong. But people behaved more modestly, and respect their elders taught in elementary school. " Takhir Bazarov offers an explanation: "Too many people feel today nedolyublennosti, undervalued. And by all means possible to seek "revenge". But do not give way to a pregnant woman - is a manifestation of the will of lack of will. Yes, apparently this behavior seems to be a strong-willed - obstinacy, stiffness ... But behind this lies a weak person who has no idea of ​​morality. "

to extinguish the conflict in a public place

Takhir Bazarov, Doctor of Psychology, Professor of Social Psychology of the Faculty of Psychology of. MV Lomonosov.

"I think I know how to deal with conflict, communicating in a relaxed atmosphere alone. But it is lost when that happens on the street or in a store. Recently, I was simply wiped off in line at the theater box office. I felt that I was humiliated, but did not know how to answer. ... could only be angry with herself. " Angela, 27 years old

What is behind this?

As rightly says Angela, are microscopic situation of denial of our identity. For a moment, each of us ceases to exist as a person. Depending on our state of mind at this moment, we will sooner or later manage to get rid of unpleasant feelings, but such an incident can ruin a whole day.

How do I stand up for themselves?

Among the strangers do not pretend invisible - then you will be harder to push. Your abuser aggressive demonstrates that he has brought you under a certain category, and does not intend you to be considered. Show that you do not agree with the imposed role, and offer another self-image. For example, straighten, raise your head, straighten shoulders, feel more confident in my body. Set the "aggressor" open question that requires an immediate response, or resort to humor, looking him straight in the eye: "Young man, apparently in a hurry for the popcorn?" Another way - to find a number of allies, those on whom we can rely. Communication with others will protect us from disrespect. And if we are not afraid to stand up for those who infringe upon and ignored in such circumstances, even to defend their interests it will be easier.

an appropriate response strategy

Aggressiveness, caused by misunderstanding of freedom, or unwillingness to recognize the dignity of others can be manifested in many ways, but one thing in common: we do not know how to respond. And that, in fact, it is possible here to do? Yelling, swearing, threatening? Some believe that they will be better protected if they themselves will inspire others fear. But this calculation is justified: domestic tyrants replacing the arguments and shouting insults, never command respect. On the other hand, and endure what we have offended, and excited for nothing, we feel at ease: we are ashamed that we are not able to do what we want. "As a rule, we do not try to understand the causes of publicly unpleasant incident, in our culture, it is not accepted - says Takhir Bazarov. - In addition, an attempt to understand the essence of the conflict is usually only leads to its aggravation. Therefore, in most cases we are dealing with two strategies - aggression in response to aggression or withdrawal from the situation. But both options are unsuccessful. The first can lead to physical injury. The second - a psychological injury. " Maybe we should try to climb to a height inaccessible to the attacks? Behave as if we were omniscient and perfect, those who at all is the answer? But to reach the shining peaks of recognition and respect is becoming increasingly difficult. Doctors complain that they do not respect the patients, and the words of the priests discussed and criticized on internet forums. It seems that even the most indisputable authority rapidly losing weight.

"We live in an age of paradox - said Bazarov Tahir. - All you need ready-made knowledge, but all recipes quickly depreciate. The authority of the position, status, dignity subjected to incessant attacks. Access to information, including special makes us all the more critical. Therefore, it is important to the ability to find a solution to a particular situation at a particular moment. "

It turns out that to demonstrate his coolness meaningless. Respect - is primarily an existential attitude, which consists in recognizing the value of feelings, opinions and desires of others. And in order to be respected, we have to learn to say a firm "yes" and "no", defend their opinions and express dissent, if the situation does not suit us, and not to allow to encroach on "protective sphere" of our personal space. All these valuable skills are reduced to the ability to "be themselves", says psychoanalyst Jean-Claude Liode (Jean-Claude Liaudet). But that's the main difficulty is! Who we really are - that we ourselves, not our understanding of what we are and who would like to be?

comfort zone

Why, when a stranger gets too close, we feel uneasy? On this question in the middle of the last century, said the anthropologist Edward T. Hall (Edward T. Hall), showing that each of us is surrounded by a "protective sphere" personal space. Its size depends on the origin of man, his social status, personal preferences, culture, as well as familiarity with those close to him. On average, from 0 to 0, 5 m takes intimate zone intended for the closest; from 0, 5 to 1 m, 2 m - personal area for communication with close friends; 1, 2 to 3 m, 7 m - social area suitable for business communication. "In cultures where taken to control emotions, the distance between people increases - explains psychologist Aida Aylamazyan. - There, where there is a warm, open relationship - is reduced, accepted handshakes, hugs, pats, free gestures. Social norms are different, too: communication distance is more restrained and significant in high society. A counterculture is set to convergence, there is even a protest against the distance, its negation are all brothers, Vive la Commune! "

Normally we are very sensitive to the intrusion into our comfort zone. "Personal space must necessarily be permeable, so as not to turn into an impenetrable shell, the shell - sure Aida Aylamazyan. - But it is important to choose who we want to admit to themselves or to bring. Selectivity allows us to protect, preserve his personality and individuality. " The forced closely we lose ourselves, our "I" is destroyed, disappearing, so the crowd - one of the most effective mechanisms for the depersonalization of man. "Any one of us in different situations can be more or less adjusted to the rendezvous, - says Aida Aylamazyan. - Understand what state is the one with whom we are going to contact, whether it is ready for close communication, we can only showing genuine interest, peering and listening to it. "

Elena Shevchenko

Learn yourself

Fortunately, look at themselves, understand their own lives and learn to self-affirmation is never too late. This may help in psychotherapy, training of personal growth or spiritual practices - everyone is free to choose what suits him. The main thing - to establish an adequate self-esteem, which still protects us from feeling that we did not present themselves, and the temptation to consider himself the crown of creation. Those of us who know his worth, rarely faced with disrespect and less painful to their experience, if they do occur. We should not forget that self-esteem is not given once and for all, it requires constant effort. Once started this inner work, we will conduct its lifetime. Of course, no one has a complete protection against someone's unkind words, reactions, and aggressive behavior. This problem is not a universal solution. But self-respect - a key step on this path. Another, no less important - the correct understanding of freedom. "We must not forget that freedom - it is not selfish," as I want and when I want "and not infantile desire for omnipotence" - warns Jean-Claude Liode. True freedom - is the willingness to coexist with others, recognizing and respecting their meaning and the same willingness on their part. Do unto others as we would like them to do to us ... We're guessed that nothing better mankind has not invented?

* Hobbes "Leviathan" (Thought, 2001).

** Freud "I and It" (Eksmo, 2007).


  • "Restoring self" Heinz Kohut (Cogito-Center, 2002).
  • "The Art of Being a" Vladimir Levi (Globe, 2000).
  • "develop a sense of confidence and self-esteem," Joseph Murphy (Medley, 2007).