Aunt Izzie: How to not be a pushover

Dear Aunt Izzie,

One of my friends is constantly taking her frustration and anger out on me, even though I’m not doing anything wrong. I’m too afraid of confrontation to say anything. Help!


Unhappy Pushover


Dear Unhappy Pushover,

Many a soul is plagued by what, depending on who you ask, could be labeled as “confrontation anxiety” or “wimpy-ness.” Fear not! There are easy steps you can take to making the transition from a pushover to less of a pushover.

You can’t be afraid to say something. I am not a doctor by any stretch of the imagination, but I know it’s unhealthy for you to function as a human punching bag, especially if you’ve done nothing wrong.

If it helps, think of talking to your friend as less of a confrontation and more a conversation. It’ll just be two friends casually discussing the issues in their relationships to foster necessary growth and development. Go into this conversation prepared by following these guidelines.

1. Approach the situation with caution. Yes, your friend is verbal boxer (get it? Cause she treats you like a human punching bag?) but it’s probably unintentional. Pointing out the problem might be all it takes to solve it.

2. Tell her how you feel instead of how she’s mean or stupid or annoying. And don’t say, “I feel like you’re stupid” because that’s cheating, and sort of rude. Try “I feel sad when you take your frustration out on me.” I work at a summer camp and this is how we make conflicting campers communicate with each other. You’re an adult, so you should be able to handle it.

3. Have specific examples. Lawyers don’t take murders to court and accuse them without evidence. Be prepared for her to offer explanations or excuses. Listen to her when she talks, but make sure she is hearing the examples you have.

4. Don’t be afraid to walk away. If she doesn’t take what you’re saying well and starts to put you down for having feelings, exit the area. Maybe find a real punching bag to take your frustration out on.

            You may be a pushover for now, but follow these steps and you’ll be confronting people left and right! I’m just kidding. Don’t do that.


Aunt Izzie

Aunt IzzieIzzie Gibson Penrose, class of 2016, has 18 years of advice to give. She loves telling people what to do (but doesn’t take offense if they don’t listen) and lives as strange a life as possible so she has plenty of anecdotes to share. Izzie also enjoys making jokes and baking cupcakes. Email her with questions, concerns, or anything LITERALLY ANYTHING that’s on your mind at She promises to read every email she receives at least once, probably six times.

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Author: AnnaMarie Houlis

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