On the podcast this week, we are counting down the top five episodes that you have decided helped you the most about the concept of assertiveness. This is my absolute favorite topic because I believe it’s such an important one. Here a few reasons why I think it’s so crucial for our well-being:
We cannot have good self-esteem if we cannot own our voice. It’s just not possible to feel good about ourselves if we aren’t able to speak what we think, feel, and need in a healthy way. When we avoid doing this, by saying nothing or saying things that aren’t true for us, like “Oh I’m fine with paying for everything” or “I don’t need a thing…” we lose self-respect. Conversely when we do take responsibility and gather the courage to speak the truth, we feel better about ourselves, and glad we took the risk.
We cannot feel empowered unless we are standing and living our truth. When we are lying to ourselves about what we really think, feel, need, and hell-just want, we can’t trust ourselves. Until we experience having the courage to say no, to set the boundary or tell our truth, how can we? If we are putting on the false self for others to be ok, we are also sending ourselves (and the world) the message that our needs are secondary, our boundaries don’t matter and our goals not as important. This is even more apparent when we don’t stand up for ourselves when we are being dismissed or even verbally abused in some way. (The subtler the gaslighting the harder this is to do.) Being assertive means not changing our truth when it gets uncomfortable.
We cannot have healthy relationships without being in a place of choice. This means we take ownership of what our choices are, and don’t put them on other people. For example, If I don’t want to accept my partner’s feelings, I might lash out and play victim and try to manipulate them out of their feelings by saying something like “I can’t believe you would even say that!”. The message in this statement is “I don’t value or want to even see the validity in why you might feel that way.” Contrast this to owning the choice to listen and truly hear what they are feeing and even express empathy that it makes sense they feel that, even if it’s hard to hear. When we own the choice, we own both the benefits of listening and caring OR the consequences of not. If both partners can own their feelings, their fears and outcomes of their choices, there can be trust.
So these are a few things I have come to believe after countless hours listening, learning and helping clients figure out what is in their way of having great self-confidence and relationships.