Get off my Toes

or Power Defining Moments

How very often you or others will rant about how someone has violated your space. The woman who has been touched inappropriately. The child who screams, “leave me alone.” The person who hovers too close, as though he or she is absorbing you and your energy.

These moments often turn into something ugly before it is over. They don’t need to, but they often do. Why? They often turn vile because the person whose space has been invaded does not recognize the moments or the incidents for what they are.

And what is that? They are often (not always) what you can think of as “Get off my toes!” moments. It’s a dance. Your partner in this dance just stepped on your toes. You quickly, without contemplating or analyzing his reasons for stepping on you, push him back or tell him unequivocally to get off your toes. And that’s the end of it, with your partner now on high alert that you don’t like being walked on.

Unfortunately, so many of these moments go unrecognized or become labeled by something much worse. “He is a dirty old man.” “She’s a snoop”. And soon things either become increasingly uncomfortable with no one saying anything, or the feelings go underground, to emerge when there is an audience.

From the outside, they were “get off my toes” moments, where the victim could have simply stated that the behavior was inappropriate. Instead, the moment was glossed over in frozen politeness or fear of doing the wrong thing. Often, the person stepping on toes has the bigger “bomb”. He/she could adversely affect something you want or think you need. Remember the law of least attachment? Is your inability to say, “Get off my toes!” attached to something you think you need or want?

In the interest of being “Non-Confrontational”, we often unintentionally help to create escalating situations because we do not know how to defend our own boundaries. And to be totally honest, we are often afraid to lose something we believe has value to us on our journey.

If you are hesitating to say, “Get off my toes!” in the moment when it matters, you too are responsible for this awkward dance. If you are allowing something abhorrent to you because of something that might be lost or gained, you have made an unequivocal statement about what your values really are. Freedom is not free.

Be very clear. This is not condoning the other’s bad behaviors. This is about recognizing when you give up your power.

We are too often completely incapable of simply stating our boundaries and the moments grow like the sea monster which is bigger with every retelling of the moment.

State your preference. Risk the loss attached to your freedom. Never look back. You have no idea what other paths are opening because you made a choice. Perhaps not what you have planned or wanted, but always a redirected path that may ultimately serve you better than what you thought you wanted. This is a late chapter because you must already accept that detachment means letting go.

Tell the dirty old man to “knock it off”! Tell the admin who is denying you access to your boss that it is not her job to do so, and it is YOUR job to keep him or her (your boss) informed.

In other words, accept that bullies exist. You know when you are being abused. Don’t allow it.

You may be thinking, “Easy to say.” If so, think differently.

Observe others who do not take abuse. Have they lost things they wanted? Of course, they have. People will always use their power to get what they want. Some individuals will take the hits and state their values by showing what they are willing to lose. Others will become victims.

Forget worrying about whether it is fair. It isn’t. Until we miraculously evolve, we will have others who get away with abusing power. Make decisions based on what you know is good or bad for your psychological well-being. Tell people to get off your toes when it is appropriate to do so, and scream for help when you need it. KNOW THE DIFFERENCE!

Cheat Sheet:

  1. When someone is suggesting or maneuvering you into doing something you do not want to do, try, “Please be specific. I’m not sure I understand exactly what you are asking me to do.”. It’s amazing how many people do not want to reveal to themselves how vile their desire is by stating it out loud.
  2. Practicing saying, “No Thank You.” to stupid or demeaning demands. Again, it is a way of forcing a person to be specific with what he or she wants. He/she will feel compelled to say out loud what the consequence of not responding will be. Much easier to fight them when they have vocalized the actual threat.
  3. Again, because specificity is such a powerful tool for bringing slimy into the open, you might try: “Let me be clear… are you saying that if I don’t do ______, you will _____? Odds are relatively good they will deny it and hesitate to reapply for what they want. You will seem to be too high a risk just by asking them to be specific.



Source by Toni Lynn Chinoy