Assertiveness is an essential skill for life. Not only it will avoid many problems in the field of interpersonal relations, but will also allow us to lose less patience and live in a more balanced and relaxed way. In fact, Anthony Robbins said in an occasion that “the way we communicate with others and with ourselves determines, in the final instance, the quality of our lives.”
Assertiveness is nothing more than the ability to enforce our rights in a clear and appropriate way without being too passive or too aggressive, respecting the rights of the others.
But although it seems very simple, putting it into practice is a bit more complicated. In fact, most of the people around us are not assertive, or they are it only in small measure. Why?
Very often the reason lies in their childhood. If we grew up in a house where was practiced the emotional negligence, where emotions were ignored or even punished, we did not have the opportunity to develop assertiveness.
Your 10 assertive rights
1. You have the right to judge your own behavior, thoughts and emotions, and take responsibility for them.
2. You have the right not to offer excuses or explanations for your decisions.
3. You have the right to decide whether to take responsibility for solving the problems of the others.
4. You have the right to change your mind.
5. You have the right to fail, and take up the consequences.
6. You have the right to say “I don’t know.”
7. You have the right to act independently of the “goodwill” of the others.
8. You have the right to make illogical decisions.
9. You have the right to say “I don’t understand.”
10. You have the right to say “I don’t care.”
However, people whose parents thought that expressing emotions is something negative, probably are not aware of their rights. If your parents ignored or even punished your emotional expressions, you received the message that your feelings, emotions and needs don’t count.
So, maybe you often repeat yourself phrases like “I don’t have to talk about negative things”, “I can’t let others know how I feel or what I really think” or “I don’t have to disturb.” These phrases definitely come from the speech of your parents, but are so deeply rooted in your unconscious that still continue to determine your behavior, even if you’re an adult.
The results of emotional neglect in adulthood
The emotional neglect is the failure to adequately respond to the emotional needs of children. In fact, one of the fundamental tasks of the parents is just validate the emotions of their children and teach them how to channel them in the most appropriate manner. Parents are the emotional model of children, the persons into which children reflect themselves and seek support when they are disoriented.
If the parents are not able to recognize those emotions or when they arise minimize them with phrases like “there is no reason to cry” or “nothing has happened,” they will be saying to the child that his reaction, which is completely normal and understandable, is inadequate. As a result, the child won’t know what to do and will become an adult who:
– Won’t trust his emotions and instinct, as he was taught to hide and ignore them.
– Will have difficulty recognizing emotions and feelings, by the moment that they have never been validated.
– Will have difficulty expressing his emotions in an assertive way, so he’ll take extreme positions: allowing others to trample him or will be very aggressive.
– Will develop low self-esteem because believe not to be worthy or loved.
– Will feel guilt and believe not to have the right to be himself.
The secret to develop assertiveness at any stage of life
– Learn to recognize and label your emotions. Knowing exactly how you feel and why will help you better manage those emotions, more assertively.
– Be aware of your rights as a person, knowing that you deserve to be treated with respect. And be aware that others deserve the same.
– Valorizing the opinions of the others, knowing that you can disagree without judging or belittling the others. And expect the same from the others.
– Develop a healthy self-esteem, understanding that mistakes do not diminish your value, but are opportunities for growth. This way you won’t feel threatened by others and do not respond aggressively or let yourself be trampled.
Of course, it is also helpful to learn some assertive techniques to address the most complicated situations.
In the case of children, for developing assertiveness it is essential that parents learn to respect their individuality and their opinions, even if they may seem childish or foolish. These questions can help aducating a more confident and assertive child:
– What do you think about it?
– How do you feel?
– What do you need?
– What do you have to say?
In this way, children will learn to:
– Find out how they feel and what they need.
– Knowing that their emotions and needs are important.
– Express their emotions and needs so that the other person will respect them.