Frequently, when someone hears the word ‘assertive’ they think of aggression or about someone who is very good at saying no. Assertiveness, is actually about being able to keep your cool and being self-aware.
Assertiveness begins with recognising our own emotions, and our emotional reaction to different situation. When we are faced with challenging situations, it is normal to become uncomfortable or even a bit irritated. Sometimes, we want to take positive steps toward resolving the problem, but may not be able to clear our head enough to see how we might change it.
Assertive people develop an ability to separate themselves from what they are feeling. They are able to centre themselves enough to see the real problem, from their point of view, but also from the other’s. They are able to withdraw emotions enough to see potential win‑win solutions. They develop a knack for making a point gracefully – without being aggressive.
Anyone can develop their assertive side. The benefits include lowered stress and seeing an improvement in your experience of important relationships. Being assertive allows you to consciously make a choice about what you are willing to accept in others and what surpasses your boundaries. It allows you to bring issues and challenges into focus and resolve them calmly.
Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not always easy. You will not always react to the same stimuli in the same (balanced) manner. It depends upon your level of ‘consciousness’ and what else is going on around you. Assertiveness is an intellectual muscle that must be exercised to grow. The earlier in your life you learn to be assertive, the easier it is to continue to develop your boundary setting. But almost anyone can learn to be at least a bit more assertive.
Assertiveness is about respecting yourself as well as those around you. It’s about using cues and setting clear boundaries that will allow you to look for the win-win. Above all, assertiveness is about freedom. The freedom to release old ‘stories’ and ‘descriptors’ that no longer serve you. The freedom to ask for what you need in a relationship while still honouring the other individual’s right to choose to align with your suggestion. As you become more assertive about your needs, you may not sustain all of the relationships around you, but the ones that last will add more value and bring more joy.