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Problems

Assertiveness

If you lack confidence and find it difficult to speak up for yourself - to be assertive - you may find that your feelings, your needs and your wants are often dismissed and rarely met. If you are too passive and find it difficult to be assertive you may:

  • Be constantly doing things to please other people

  • Feel under pressure to agree with other people

  • Feel under pressure to do what other people want you to do

  • Feel forced to go places you don't want to go

  • Allow others to constantly criticise you and put you down

  • Allow others to abuse you

  • Come off worse in arguments

  • Feel bad if you have a difference of opinion

  • Feel you are letting others down if you don't do what they want

  • Make excuses and constantly justify yourself to others

  • Allow others to make you feel inferior and worthless

  • Have difficulty in saying no

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Assertiveness

  • Being assertive is having confidence in yourself to state clearly and honestly about what you want, what you need, what you feel.

  • Being assertive respects and values yourself as well as other people.

  • Being assertive is different from being aggressive. Aggressive people hurt, intimidate and bully others and have little respect for other people.

  • Being assertive makes you feel good about yourself and good about the way you treat others.

  • Being assertive means you sometimes get your needs and wants met.

  • Being assertive means you get your feelings and opinions heard

  • Being assertive means being able to give others constructive criticism/feedback and being able to accept constructive criticism/feedback.

  • Being assertive means speaking clearly and firmly.

  • Being assertive means not allowing others to pressurise, bully or intimidate you into changing your opinion or agreeing with them.

  • Being assertive means being able to give and accept compliments.

  • Being assertive means being able to compromise at times.

  • Being assertive means being confident enough in yourself not to take to heart others criticism, put downs, nastiness.

  • Being assertive means being YOU - not changing who you are to please others.

If you are not used to being assertive it takes time and practice to learn this and is something you need to practice on a daily basis. There are also classes on assertiveness/confidence building which are often run by local colleges and adult education centres. The internet also has details of many companies who run classes on this subject. (Just put 'Assertiveness' in the search engine).

When you start being assertive you may find that others around you don't like it and may find it difficult to accept the 'new' you, - someone who can stand up for themselves. They may have been used to you not speaking up for yourself and pushing you around or putting pressure on you to do what they have wanted for many years. Don't let this put you off - continue being assertive and eventually they will accept the 'new' you and if they don't like it that is their problem - not yours! You don't need to feel guilty about stating what you want, need, feel in an honest and clear way.

If you don't want to do something or go somewhere you don't have to justify yourself to others and/or go into numerous explanations and make up loads of excuses. You normally find that if you repeat what you say at least 3 times that the other person will give up.

e.g. if your friend asks you to go to a party and you don't want to go say politely 'sorry I can't make it that night'. If your friend keeps asking you why not, or starts putting pressure on you to go - don't go into reasons why you can't or don't want to go - just repeat 'sorry I can't make it that night' and if your friend continues pressurising you repeat again 'sorry I can't make it that night' - if she continues then you can say something like 'you are not listening to me, I have said I can'tmake it that night' - then end the conversation.

Some people get dragged into arguments and when they come away from the person they feel pressurised, tired, upset they haven't been heard etc. Sometimes they waste so much time and energy going round in circles, making up endless excuses, constantly justifying themselves that all that energy could have been used by doing something positive and doing something to enjoy yourself instead of wasting your time arguing with someone who doesn't want to hear you - you could spend hours and hours trying to reason with someone but if they don't want to hear you it is pointless and a complete waste of time.

There are people who are passive who allow others to be abusive to them - if someone for example rings you up and starts arguing with you and being abusive say something like 'I don't think there is any point us talking until you have calmed down so I am going to end the call now' (and put the phone down!). That way you have stayed in control, you will feel good about yourself and you have not allowed anyone to abuse you. You haven't been rude - you have just got the message across that you are not going to stay on the end of the phone while someone shouts and abuses you. Similarly if you are face to face with someone - walk away.

If you start treating yourself with respect and valuing yourself you should find that other people should start to show you respect and value you. At the end of the day you only need to be around and have positive, caring, respectful people in your life - people who are disrespectful, aggressive, selfish, uncaring etc. are people you are better off without. Be positive and caring towards yourself and you should draw positive and caring people towards you, if you are uncaring and negative about yourself you will put up with uncaring and negative people in your life.

If someone is nasty to you remember it is only their opinion - say to yourself 'nomatter what you say or do to me I am still a worthwhile person' - don't allow others to devalue you and make you feel worthless.

It is common for people who don't value themselves to constantly put themselves down and criticise themselves - try to love yourself unconditionally - nobody can be perfect and nobody needs to be perfect - everyone has faults, bad habits, things they may not like about themselves but that doesn't make them a bad person or a worthless person.

You love other people close to you inspite of their faults - if your mum/dad/brother/sister/boyfriend/girlfriend/best friend etc. had faults or things which maybe got on your nerves - you would still love them just the same - so why be so hard on yourself! Learn to love yourself unconditionally as you would others.

Being assertive takes practice but it is well worth the practice as it will make you feel a happier person who is more in control of their life. You will get some of your needs and wants met and your feelings heard.

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A Bill Of Assertive Rights

Adapted by Directory And Book Services from A Woman In Your Own Right by Anne Dickson, Published by Quartet Books, 1982. Copyright 1982 Anne Dickson

  • I have the right to state my own needs and set my own priorities as a person independent of any roles that I may assume in my life.
  • I have the right to be treated with respect as an intelligent, capable and equal human being.
  • I have the right to express my feelings.
  • I have the right to say 'yes' or 'no' for myself.
  • I have the right to make mistakes.
  • I have the right to change my mind.
  • I have the right to say 'I don't understand'.
  • I have the right to ask for what I want.
  • I have the right to decline responsibility for other people's problems.
  • I have the right to deal with others without being dependent on them for approval.

  • I HAVE THE RIGHT TO SAY 'NO' WITHOUT FEELING GUILTY

Directory and Book Services is a mail order company specialising in Personal Development Books and has a wide range of books relating to Assertiveness and Self Confidence. Tel: 01709 860023 4 New Hill, Conisbrough, Doncaster, DN12 3HA

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Agencies which offer support and information

  • SupportLine Telephone Helpline: 01708 765200, email info@supportline.org.uk - Confidential emotional support for Children, Young People and Adults. Also keeps details of agencies, support groups and counsellors throughout the UK.

  • Learn Direct National Learning Advice Line: 0800 101 901, www.learndirect.co.uk - Details of courses relating to assertiveness and self esteem (local, distant and online courses).

Useful websites

Useful Book

The Confidence to be Yourself by Dr Brian Roet - Published by Judy Piatkus Publishers: ISBN 0749919264
Click here to read more or buy this book

When I say No, I Feel Guilty: How To Cope – Using the Skills of Systematic Assertive Therapy by Manuel J. Smith - Publishers Non Basic Stock Line: ISBN 0553263900
Click here to read more or buy this book

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