How assertive are you?
If PASSIVE is on one end of the scale, AGGRESSIVE is on the other, and ASSERTIVE sits right in the middle, where do you sit?
I don’t think anyone is assertive 100 per cent of the time. We all have our passive moments, our aggressive outbursts, and, even worse, our passive-aggressive ones. But cultivating assertiveness skills, at least according to most psychologists, seems the wise way to go if we want to have our needs met and lead a rich, secure life.
Psychology Today defines it this way:
“Demonstrating assertiveness means there’s no question where you stand, no matter the topic. Cognitively, to be assertive implies a lack of anxious thoughts in light of stress. Behaviorally, assertiveness is all about asking for what you want in a manner that respects others. Assertive people don’t shy away from defending their points of view or goals, or from trying to influence others. In terms of affect, assertiveness means reacting to positive and negative emotions without aggression or resorting to passivity.”
I used to be a lot more passive than I am now, but I’ve gradually learnt more about communicating where I stand when it comes to my feelings and opinions. I handle stress better through asking for what I need (rather than perpetuating a ‘victim’ or ‘martyr’ mindset), and I’m more confident in articulating my point of view, and goals for the future. I still struggle in conflict situations where I’m required to speak up rather than remaining passive, and I find the idea of bringing up a difficult topic with a friend terrifying… but I’m getting better.
The journey towards assertiveness has been a long one for me.
How about you? Do you struggle to articulate your opinions, goals, dreams and desires? What is it you enjoy? What makes you come alive? What are your plans for the future? Are they good? Full of hope? Have you shared these things with friends?
And do you ask for your needs to be met?
We can easily allow life to steamroll over us if we don’t assertively ask the people who care for us to help us in specific, practical ways. Owning our needs and asking for help is a skill many of us haven’t cultivated, but healthy support is vital.
What about boundaries? Do you protect your ‘house’ with sturdy, clearly delineated fences, or it open to anyone who asks for a place to stay? How do you carve out and balance time for yourself, your partner, family and friends?
Every time you say yes to something, something has to give. Is it really worth it, or would saying no be a healthier choice?
A good life has to start with owning our choices and knowing where we stand. I want to be an assertive, clear-minded person who knows what I think, is in touch with how I feel, and exercises her choices in a healthy way. How about you?