Or, How To Be An Assertive Person And Still Have Faith.
Assertiveness… It’s a term 90% of us struggle with. That comes from childhood, “children should be seen and not heard.” If that isn’t an assertiveness killer, I don’t know what is!
And where does Aggression come from? Not being able to assert oneself. We’re not taught to speak up when we have an issue, we’re taught to hide it, let it build up inside of us and then when it does burst, we explode.
Don’t think men are the only ones susceptible to this Aggression. Women don’t hit walls and threaten the driver next to them, at least the ones I know, but it comes out, one way or another! That reminds me of the scene in The Godfather where Talia Shire’s character breaks all the dishes in the house. And that may well happen much more often than we think. But not being able to assert oneself in one context or another will lead to all kinds of trouble.
I personally had trouble with assertiveness for a good part of my life. And being the meek, mild-mannered individual everyone thought I was, once in a while this big aggressive monster inside me would pop up, I’d be embarrassed, and wondering where that came from, but it would come out, sooner or later. Nowadays, I’m pretty laid back, I am known for being honest with people and letting whatever bugs me out, BEFORE it becomes a big hairy monster.
If you saw the classic 1956 hit movie, The Forbidden Planet, starring Leslie Nielsen, you’ll remember the Krell monster. The creature that attacked the Flying Saucer, was Morbius’s inner self. In that situation, Morbius was trying his assertive best to warn the crew off the planet!
So how do you tell if you are lacking on the assertiveness scale? Answer these questions.
- Do you find yourself biting your tongue often when someone is relating something you don’t agree with, so you end up not saying anything.
- Do you start to retreat into yourself when people are discussing something you don’t agree with?
- Do you refrain from asking a loved one to do something for you, such as take the trash out, make the bed, or similar requests.
- Do you avoid asking your kids to do their homework or clean up their room?
- Do you find yourself doing things for other people when you really have more important tasks at hand than playing soccer mom to a friend who hasn’t bought you so much as a cup of coffee for all your efforts at pleasing them and running their kids around.
- Do you find yourself just getting to the point of total frustration and know that you are about to go into a rage, unfortunately, over a straw that breaks the camel’s back instead of something monumental.
If you answered yes to three of these questions, maybe it’s time to strengthen your assertiveness. This is where you want to take a look at your belief system. Faith tells us that if we don’t speak up, we will be led down the wrong path. We have to voice our opinions, needs and wants for Him to guide us.
He knows what we need, but He wants us to ask for it through prayer. Wasn’t Jesus being assertive when he told his disciples to go spread His word? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t know the bible in any capacity, let alone well enough to quote a verse. The whole premise of our faith is to communicate with Him.
He wants to hear from you. He doesn’t want you to all of a sudden drop a big bomb and blow up, yelling at Him that he took your spouse/brother/sister/mom/dad too early, whomever. He will get you through this with communication and telling HIM how you feel.
Can I learn how to be an assertive person?
It takes knowing the steps to get over that hump. And then it takes practice of each and every one of those steps. It does take getting over that little inner voice that tells us we aren’t worth asking for what we want or need.
That little inner voice is telling us to just forget about this “assertiveness thing” before we drive the people who take care of us off. At first, it may require repeating our request a number of times. And after a few times of repetition, the requested will get the picture that it’s futile to resist, when a person with healthy assertiveness asks for something people calmly respond.
Let’s look at what assertiveness isn’t. Assertiveness is not aggression. Assertiveness is not yelling and screaming. Not at your spouse, not at your kids. Assertiveness is calmly letting the other person know what you want.
Assertiveness is not picket lines in your face. Assertiveness is standing your ground, not advancing into the crowd. In other words, assertiveness is not, and does not require aggression. Which makes for an awesome situation, you can get what you want or need without going to extremes.
Where do we go from here? How do we get on this path to being a more assertive person? there are a number of avenues to start on that track.
Manuel J. Smith has a great book called, “When I Say No, I Feel Guilty.” It’s an oldie but definitely relevant in today’s society. I’ve read it, I still have my copy. I’ve bought the book numerous times and gave it to good friends.
The second great book is, “Feel the Fear And Do It Anyway,“ by Susan Jeffers. I have also read the book, still have my copy. This is more a book about overcoming the fear of making decisions, And it has necessary relevance to the assertiveness problem. A lot of assertiveness issues are definitely driven by the fear of making that decision to ASK for what you want.
This book and Manuel’s book go hand in hand. If nothing else, these need to be first and second on your list of self-help books. My wife read my copy because I wanted her to be assertive as well. We both communicate better than we have ANY other relationship we’ve had in our lives.
She tells me where to go and what to do, and I go do it. Okay, that was just a joke, I thought you needed one because this is a dry, but very necessary, subject! Carol and I have a relationship other people envy! Because we COMMUNICATE!
The last great book I want to offer you is the whole purpose of this post:
By Randy J. Paterson.
This book will walk you through exactly how to get where you want to go with it. And like I said, 90% of us need to work on our assertiveness.
This a quote, directly for the Amazon website, “Effective communication is a critical skill that influences your professional success, the stability of your family life, and your personal happiness. Your ability to communicate effectively is seriously hampered if you can’t assert yourself constructively. If you’ve ever felt paralyzed by an imposing individual or strongly argued opposing point of view, you know that a lack of assertiveness can leave you feeling marginalized and powerless. The Assertiveness Workbook contains effective, cognitive behavioral techniques to help you become more assertive. Learn how to set and maintain personal boundaries without becoming inaccessible. Become more genuine and open in relationships without fearing attack. Defend yourself when you are criticized or asked to submit to unreasonable requests.”
That sums it up. Go take a look, use your newfound procrastination avoidance techniques to help yourself.
Do ME a favor!
See how I used my assertiveness to ask for a favor? It’s already working for me! Leave me a comment below, let me know you read my blog, but more importantly, and this is the tough part, tell me how this helped you or if it didn’t and you think I’m some sort of goof, let me know! I hope you’ve discovered how to be an assertive person!
To a prosperous and happy future!