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.
If you feel that you have a difficulty practicing any of these rights then you might lack assertiveness.
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.
Your Perfect Right: Assertiveness and Equality in Your Life and Relationships (2008) by Robert Alberti.
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