Why Didn’t I Say Something Sooner?

Nikki Dyer
3 min readMay 24, 2023

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I was at the grocery store today with my 18-month-old in the checkout line. As I was unpacking our cart onto the belt, a man came right up to us and started asking me a lot of invasive questions.

“How old is she?”

“What’s her name?”

“What aisle did you find her in?”

“How much does one of those cost?”

Some people may think this is just someone being chatty or friendly, but to be honest, I’ve had enough.

I’m tired of strange men coming up to me in stores and trying to ask me questions about my kids that feel like they’re trying to get personal information from me. I’m tired of feeling like I’m possibly overreacting. And I’m tired of questioning if I’m being targeted or cased in the store when I’m alone.

To be clear…stuff like this NEVER happens when my husband is with me. EVER. It’s only when I’m alone with one or both kids, and it’s more often than I’d really like to think about.

It wasn’t until he reached out and physically started touching my little girl that I very sternly told him do not ever touch my child and to go away or I would have them call store security.

Once I got home, I replayed the whole thing over and over in my mind and the same question kept creeping in on me…

“Why didn’t I trust my gut and say something sooner?”

How We Got This Way

As women, we are socially groomed to be nice and polite and to be the “good girl.”

Be a good girl.
Do as your told.
Don’t talk back.
Wait your turn.
Don’t make trouble.
Just sit here and be quiet.
Smile and look happy.
Don’t make people angry.
Where are your manners?

From an early age, the expectations were clear — you were to follow the rules, be quiet, and think of others before yourself.

Isn’t being nice a good thing?

From a blanket perspective, sure. The world could use a little more kindness and people being nice. However, it’s more complicated than that.

Most of us were raised in the era of obedience.

The problem is that when our self-worth is dependent on making people happy, we will repeatedly compromise our own needs to please others, and we often care more about other people’s opinions and values than our own.

Consistently putting other people’s needs ahead of our own isn’t sustainable. We have to take care of ourselves — and doing this adequately necessitates legitimizing our own needs and sometimes saying “no” to other people. Essentially, if you give and give and give, you’ll have nothing left for yourself and you’ll end up exhausted, and resentful.

Breaking Free From People Pleasing

So much of what we do and think is based on unconscious beliefs and ingrained behavior patterns. This is why awareness is so important in the change process. If you want to change something about yourself you need to be aware of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it — not so you can beat yourself up about everything you do, but so you can intentionally choose differently.

When you notice yourself being socially polite when you actually have the ick in your belly, start to ask yourself some of these questions:

  • Are my needs being met?
  • Am I doing this out of obligation?
  • What do I want?
  • What feels right to me?
  • Can I safely share my own opinion right now?
  • How can I be kind to myself in this situation?
  • What do I believe in? What matters to me?

With awareness, practice, and an intention to get to know yourself better and be more self-compassionate, you’ll incrementally shift from this pre-determined, rigid good girl role that you’ve been playing to a more authentic, fulfilled, and emotionally healthier version of YOU.

Do you struggle with people touching your children in the grocery store? Let me know in the comments!

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Nikki Dyer

Certified Relationship Coach | YouTube Guided Meditations. Find me in all places @ Coached By Nikki Dyer