Wednesday, November 7, 2012


The Art of Asserting Yourself

It’s Friday.  Your boss has a habit of giving you urgent work at the last minute.  As a consequence you have to stay late almost every night to finish it – in fact you have been working late all this week.  Today is your partner’s birthday and you wish to spend the evening with him or her.  You need to leave on time tonight.   It’s 4:30 p.m. and suddenly your boss appears with an urgent document that needs to be finished by tomorrow morning.  How do you refuse the request?
Learning to be assertive at home or at work is definitely a skill we can all use to help us get the most mileage out of life and that is happiness.  It should not be confused with aggressive behavior, which mostly arises from a place of low self worth and feelings of competition and jealousy.  By using aggressive behavior we may get what we want, but it will come at a huge price, perhaps even at the cost of sacrificing a relationship.
Assertiveness is defined as a skill that helps us to communicate our needs and feelings clearly and confidently to others without hurting others.  Assertiveness is defined as an attitude of mind. It lets others know that we value ourself, our time, other people and resources.  Assertiveness is a behavior that respects both the self and other people.
People who find it difficult to assert themselves are usually people who are not so happy with themselves and their lot in life!  Mildly put, they don’t see the point of asserting themselves.  They feel undeserving with no sense of self worth, the inner voice is just not able to speak loud enough.
Our level of self-esteem and self-worth will definitely determine how much we stand up for ourselves, voice our opinion and let others know how we would like to be treated.  There is a saying in the theatre that there are no small parts, only small actors.  So if you feel your part is too small, you are the only one making it so with your mindset of low self esteem.
A lack of assertiveness is a major cause of feelings of uneasiness and discomfort that millions of people experience.  Learning to assert ourselves can help us build confidence and claim our rights in a way that is peaceful and harmonious.  Assertiveness is where we can state our point of view in a way that does not upset other people.  This is because we are coming from a place of balance.  If we don’t make this effort, we find ourselves suffering from either an inferiority or superiority complex.  Some of the tell tale signs of this are depression, feeling stifled, upset, exploited and many more.  Yet sadly, no one is doing this to us.  When we lack assertive skills, we are giving people permission to take advantage of us.
There is a difference between passive, assertive and aggressive behavior.  Where this is passive behavior, the person will express his or her needs, wants, opinions, feelings, beliefs in an apologetic way.  While the assertive person will express them in a direct and honest way.  The aggressive person will act inappropriately; being rude and disrespectful.  Those with passive behavior do not stand up for their own rights and needs and in doing so puts the rights and needs of others before their own.  In assertive behavior people stand up for themselves in a way that respects other people.  With aggressive behavior, these people stand up for their own rights, but do so in a way that shows disrespect and disregard for the rights of others.
To practice assertive behavior it helps to know some of our rights in the journey of life.  Once we recognize these, they increase our confidence to stand up for what we believe without feeling apologetic.
You have the right to:
*       Be different and unique
*       Ask for what you want
*       Make mistakes
*       Admit that you don’t know or don’t understand
*       Say no
*       Be heard
*       Be treated with respect
*       Hold and express different views and opinions from those of other people
*       Change our mind
*       Privacy
It’s time… to increase your self-esteem and to practice the art of being assertive. Respect yourself and then the vibration and tone that will arise will be one of respect and regard for others and not reactionary or despair.  Learn to assess situations in reference to your time and self worth.  Assert your rights.  And next time your boss walks over to you, remember you always have the right to say No.

By three methods we may learn wisdom:
First, by reflection, which is noblest;
Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and
Third by experience, which is the bitterest.