Learning how to express your wants and needs with integrity: with friends, co-workers and especially with the person who matters most to you!!!!

Have you ever heard yourself say, “I’m a nice person. I’m a polite person. I’d never intentionally do anything to hurt anybody. So why don’t other people give me the respect I deserve?” The problem could well be due to difficulty with assertion. Maybe you are ONLY showing your nice, polite, and respectful qualities to people, but failing to share with integrity.  Unless they can see who you truly are, underneath it all, other people might not know how you expect to be treated. And this can lead to hurtful experiences.

At the heart of assertion is YOUR ABILITY TO KNOW WHO YOU ARE and then to express this self attunement effectively in everyday interactions with  people. Another way of saying this is: how can your partner (friend or co-worker) know you if you don’t know you????

Expressing yourself effectively involves maintaining respect for the rights and feelings of others. Assertion is not aggression. People who are assertive know that they can deal with the world much more effectively if they do not resort to violence or other aggressive responses. In many ways, assertiveness is the exact opposite of aggression – assertion enhances constructive communication and cooperation between people, while aggression shuts it down. And assertion is not manipulation. Most people are aware, at some level, when they are being manipulated – which can lead to distrust and a lack of respect, for both parties.

Manipulation involves hiding behind a mask. Assertion means tearing off the mask and happily announcing to the world who you truly are. Assertion is reality-tested freedom.

We see instances of non-assertive behavior around us everyday. Most people who lack an assertive style are simply those who want to keep the peace. For the most part, they want goodness and cooperation between people. However, they often pay a high price for this in terms of functioning effectively in the world. Unfortunately, these “peaceful souls”  can sometimes explode in anger, when pushed to far.  And, then, instead of learning how to express their wants and needs from their softer, more vulnerable feelings, they file for divorce or end the friendship.

There are other undesirable consequences associated with the non-assertive style. For example, those who are not assertive allow their feelings and boundaries to be violated by others. They believe that they do not have the right to their own feelings, beliefs or opinions – and even if they do, they have difficulty in expressing them in a self-affirming way. They may feel that asserting their thoughts will lead to rejection or even being attacked. They frequently feel that it is better to withhold their ideas rather than cause a conflict. Non-assertive people may feel guilty when they have to say “no.” They allow others to make decisions for them .and may assume that others will care for their needs. Maybe their partner would care for their needs, if he/she knew what they were.

The consequences for choosing to be non-assertive are costly. People feel hurt and mistreated when their needs are not met – yet those who are non-assertive do little to meet these needs themselves. They may store up negative feelings and then harbor anger. Their sense of efficacy in the world is diminished, and then they complain about how unfair the world is to them. This approach toward the world may lead to depression, poor self-esteem, anxiety, isolation, and anger. There are better alternatives. Counseling can help you develop skills to change the way you interact in your relationships at home, at work and in social situations. This is most important in the relationships wherein you hope for connection, closeness, and care……..with your special person, partner, or spouse.