“Having or showing a confident and forceful personality. Speaking in a way that respects the boundaries of others.”
What I’ve experienced
Assertiveness is something I’ve always had issues with. I can recall many times in my life when I know I should have spoken up and didn’t. I consider myself an intelligent person. I know when I’m being treated respectfully and when I’m not. I think this lesson keeps coming up for me because my behaviour hasn’t changed. I find myself in different circumstances facing the same dilemma time and time again. Why couldn’t I have just said this or that? I go over and over it in my mind, but I don’t speak up. This in turn results in a passive/aggressive reaction I’m not proud of. I grumble under my breath, grit my teeth, bang doors, etc. It isn’t good for me to hold it all in. This frustration just builds up over time and results in resentment.
“The basic difference between being assertive and being aggressive is how our words and behaviour affect the rights and well being of others.” Sharon Anthony Bower.
Why is this happening?
I’ve thought long and hard about why it’s so hard for me to stand up for myself. Is it because I’m introverted, shy, reserved? Perhaps, but I think it goes deeper than that. It’s about my self-esteem. My feelings of self-worth and not thinking my needs are important enough to be heard. I don’t think I’m good enough. I don’t value myself as much as I should. I don’t want to “rock the boat.” I’m a people pleaser who will just do whatever is expected of me. I allow myself to be used by others who are stronger or more aggressive. Another thing I hate is conflict and confrontation. I do all I can to avoid it.
Something happened in my workplace recently which is a good example of what I do when I know I should be assertive, but I’m not. My job is a busy and physical one. I’m not lazy and am happy to do my fair share of the work. This day started off fine, but as it went on I started to realize that I was doing way more than what I should. I started to feel used and unappreciated, but did I say anything NO! I found myself grumbling under my breath. While washing dishes I banged them on the drying rack (thankfully everything’s plastic!) Going in and out of rooms I was banging doors. Typical passive-aggressive behaviour. I went home that night angry at the person I believed was at fault, but most of all I was angry at myself for once again not voicing my feelings.
“Too many of us fail to fulfil our needs because we say no rather than yes, yes when we should say no.” William Glasser.
Where to from here?
What can I learn from this? I need to value myself more. Remember that I am good enough and worthy. My needs are important enough to be heard. I need to build my self-confidence and engage in healthy communication if I want others to know where I’m at. I need to reduce the conflict within myself by opening up and voicing my opinions. It’s a load I don’t have to carry. I don’t need to be filled with frustration and resentment. There is a solution to this, but what? An assertiveness training course is a good place to start. This will definitely be a step in the right direction.
“It is naive to think that self-assertiveness is easy. To live self-assertively–which means to live authentically–is an act of high courage. That is why so many people spend the better part of their lives in hiding–from others and also from themselves.” Nathaniel Branden.
This week I thought I would add the lyrics to “My Way.” This is how I believe I live my life. Being true to myself. Living with integrity. At the end of my time on this earth I want to look back and know I did it the only way I knew how.
And now, the end is near
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I’ll say it clear
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain
I’ve lived a life that’s full
I travelled each and every highway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way
Regrets, I’ve had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do and saw it through without exemption
I planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way
Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew
But through it all, when there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out
I faced it all and I stood tall and did it my way
I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried
I’ve had my fill, my share of losing
And now, as tears subside, I find it all so amusing
To think I did all that
And may I say, not in a shy way
Oh, no, oh, no, not me, I did it my way
For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels and not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows and did it my way.
Lyrics written by Paul Anka.
Love and blessings to all.