Assertiveness is so many things, and yet I think there are a few foundational pieces that we cannot ignore if we want to become more confident and speak clearly and firmly. Here I want to mention three components to begin working on if you struggle to speak your mind in a healthy way.
Your Life Reflects What Matters Most to You. I firmly believe that to feel confident and grounded, we need to feel we have congruence in our life – that our insides match our outsides, and that we and others can clearly see what matters to us. This helps us feel genuine. It also makes us feel like less of walking contradiction and more of a complete person, someone who is courageous enough to risk disappointing others and risk failure to make our lives look like our beliefs in values. For example, if we truly believe that personal growth is important, we will make time and show commitment to continue growing. We will seek out learning and find a coach and a group that helps us do that. This is a lifelong journey, and so we prioritize it along the way, and it shows. We feel energized and expansive instead of stuck.
You Follow Through on What You Promise. Not only to others but to yourself. This is so important to self-trust, and crucial for trust in our relationships. You are only as good as your word. This means that to the best of your ability you follow through on what you say you will do, because you take the promise seriously and don’t commit unless you know you can make it happen. This way, you can be honest with yourself and with others, and feel good about being reliable and trustworthy. Your anxiety about not coming through, about procrastination or avoidance of responsibilities will lessen as you make good on what you say matters and increase your self-discipline. This means working on your boundaries, where in order to accept reality, we need to manage our time and energy wisely.
You Respond Calmly Instead of Reacting. I mentioned congruence first because I do believe that for us to become less defensive and thus reactive, we need to feel more grounded and less shakable first. Believing in ourselves comes from that congruence, and practicing healthy detachment from others is so necessary if we want to feel calmer and thus more reasonable to talk with. We can get better at actually hearing what the other person needs, appreciate their boundaries and not take things so personally because they are separate from us. They no longer DETERMINE our self-worth because we do now.
So, if you’re working toward becoming more assertive, I encourage you to make sure you work on your follow through and self-trust first. That will make it much easier to stand in your truth and allow others to do the same.