For our #gmKISS (Keep It Simple, Sweetheart) focus this month, I’m going to take on the topic of assertiveness . I feel that assertiveness is elemental to gaining and keeping a feeling of control in your life and your eating. I’ll talk about a few specific topics within that range:
Saying ‘no’ (or words to that effect) with ease
Thinking and talking about yourself in a positive way
Asking directly for what you want (and don’t want)
Expecting considerate treatment from others
Expressing honest compliments to others
Managing anger – yours and others’
I see assertiveness as being considerate interaction with others and a way of being with yourself that allows you to feel comfortable with the above behaviors.
We all have a range of behaviors from passive to aggressive. Assertiveness is a temperate middle ground. Passive behavior can explode into aggressive lashing out when the moment comes that you suddenly see the other person as having taken advantage of you. Aggressive behavior tends to make others retaliate aggressively and leaves them with lingering feelings of resentment. Passive aggressive behavior comes out when we don’t know how to deal with our anger directly.
In my early work with assertiveness training I learned from clients that they were often more assertive at work (lower level of intimacy and lower level of risk) than they were with people near and dear to them. On the other hand, they were more likely to act aggressively toward those they cared for most than they were with colleagues.
I also learned that the biggest fear people shared was: fear of rejection. They didn’t fear it because they had experienced it, or at least not to the degree they imagined it, but because they feared the imagined consequences. This type of avoidance is not unusual, nor is it unusual that the rejection they were avoiding was quite exaggerated. We want to be loved and appreciated and will act in ways that we think will make us more lovable, more likable without checking to see whether that’s what we got.
Assertiveness is a skill that can be learned and practiced and helps us create healthy self esteem. Finding words that work for you and help you get what you want while you count others is like learning new dance. Some of the steps you can learn easily and sometimes you feel like you have two feet.
Is there an area of assertiveness that you would like to learn more about? Have you already learned how to say no in a way that works for you?