Being assertive is about expressing your feelings, thoughts or wishes and, at the same time, having respect for the other person. Being assertive is NOT about being aggressive.
So, let me ask you – do you consider yourself to be assertive? Or, are you just like many of us who, from time to time, give in too quickly just for a quiet life – after all, how many times do you have to say “No” before the other person gets the message? And then – at what cost? There is always a cost.
Lack of assertion is found everywhere – at work, at home, in business and more specifically, in our relationships. It can lead to our feeling the victim, meaning we have allowed the other person to call the shots. Sometimes this may serve us and/or the issue is not of sufficient importance for it to matter to us. What I am talking about is the times when it does matter to us and yet we still give in.
Some of us have been “trained” to be “nice”. When we were kids I remember mum telling my sister and me we should give in and let our brother have his way – because he was only little. What do you think that level of thinking could lead and at what cost?
The point is – where does it stop? Who gets to dictate when we give in and let the other person have his/her way – we do. More importantly – why?
The other day I was listening to an interview with a psychotherapist and marriage counsellor who expressed the view that many women didn’t believe they deserved to get their own way and many others were afraid of the anticipated loss and being left, resulting in immediate loneliness that followed – in other words, they, like most of us who allow ourselves to be compromised, settled for short-term gain with the inevitable long-term pain.
What do you do when you find yourself giving in too early and/or allowing yourself to be compromised?
It’s about being aware, after all there is a mind-body connection involved here. Just take the time to notice what happens to you. What happens at that moment of compromise, when you give in just for a quiet life?
I, for instance, used to find myself tensing up and then my protective shield would go up and a feeling of resentment would flood my total being. I internalised the negative emotion towards the other person and pushed them away. I would find myself straining to be “nice” to them and all the while through gritted teeth.
Interestingly, anger and resentment can lead to chronic disease, especially when you get really good at it and do it over a long period of time. That could be one of the costs I was talking about.
Now, what does that do for your relationship?
How could you handle a potential conflict so you served your relationship, enhanced it, made the bond between you stronger and everyone gets to win?
Love to hear your views.