Do you struggle to meet your needs?

Assertiveness is all about our ability to communicate to others our feelings, views and opinions, in an honest, open and direct way, but without violating other’s rights. A person who is assertive has the ability to use his strengths and abilities to make decisions and communicate these effectively to others.

Being assertive means that you are able to have healthy interpersonal skills that allow you to express your needs while respecting others.

If you are not assertive, a very common trait that you might have is a tendency to please others. If you don’t please them, you feel uncomfortable, anxious or uneasy. Some of the most common reasons for pleasing others is out of fear of upsetting and disappointing them, or because you are scared of harming your relationship with them. You may also be worried that their love for you will be lessened or that you will feel rejected or abandoned.

In those cases you might feel unhappy and angry that you put up with other people’s demands. You might feel unworthy or unimportant and feel angry because of that. A common mistake that you might make as an unassertive person is to have misconceptions, assumptions and beliefs about your rights and how other people should behave towards you.

Unassertive behaviour can affect all aspects of your life and can lead to aggressive behaviour, unhealthy relationships and unhappiness.

Individuals with social anxiety and depression usually lack assertive behaviour. Low self-esteem and confidence are also linked to unassertive behaviour.

Common Problems may occur:

  • Negative feelings towards others
  • Difficult/problematic of relationships
  • Aggression
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of inadequacy/inferiority

Symptoms:

  • Passive aggression
  • Anxiety/depression
  • Low self-evaluation
  • Poor relationships
  • Procrastination
  • Being mistreated
  • Pleasing others

Assertiveness Human Rights

  1. The right to act in ways that promotes your dignity and self-respect as long as others’ right are not violated in the process.
  2. The right to be treated with respect.
  3. The right to say ‘no’ without feeling guilty.
  4. The right to express your feelings.
  5. The right to slow down and take time to think.
  6. The right to change your mind.
  7. The right to ask for what you want.
  8. The right to do less than you are humanely capable of doing.
  9. The right to ask for information.
  10. The right to make mistakes.
  11. The right to feel good about yourself.

If you feel that you have a difficulty practicing any of these rights then you might lack assertiveness.

How therapy can help

Therapy for unassertive behaviour is based on changing your negative feelings and thoughts, as well as your unhelpful behaviour, and making these more positive and healthy. Skills training is essential as you replace the old, problematic behaviour with new ways to communicate your needs to others. People who are unassertive usually have low self-esteem, so it is important to restore some sense of worth back to yourself. Therapy will help you to feel in control, more confident and less anxious.

Being assertive helps you to gain more respect from others, satisfy your needs, resolve conflicts, feel better about yourself and achieve your goals.

Reading on Assertiveness

Your Perfect Right: Assertiveness and Equality in Your Life and Relationships (2008) by Robert Alberti.

Do you avoid confrontation? Start thinking and acting more assertively today

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See also Confidence and Self-esteem counselling


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