Do you cringe at the idea of displeasing someone? Would you rather do what is asked of you because the idea of any possible confrontation makes your skin crawl? Does “’NO” seem the hardest word to say? If you answered yes to these questions you may suffer from the inability to be assertive.

To be assertive means you recognize your worth as a person and believe you have a right to be treated with respect and dignity.  You realize that you should express your opinions and feelings even if they are contrary to another.

But what if the other person gets mad at me? If they tell me I am wrong and no longer like me as a result?  What if they yell at me, or talk negatively about me to others?  If a person cannot appreciate your right to your point of view then you are unlikely to have a healthy relationship with them. Your lack of advocating for yourself cheats you out of your right to fairness and allows the other person to continue their selfish behavior.

How do you learn to be assertive?  Firstly, you must recognize that you have rights and when they are being denied. You must work on building on the belief that you have value and develop a loving, caring relationship with yourself which allows for healthy self-esteem. You may need to seek out a professional to explore the underlying issues for your low self-esteem.  You can practice using assertive communication styles through role playing.  Use “I feel_ because__” statements which shows you are taking responsibility for yourself and not throwing out accusations. Start with smaller situations and gradually work toward your more feared encounters.

Remember developing assertiveness skills is a process and be patient with yourself.  Once you learn how to do this you will notice that you are attracted to and will attract healthier people in your life. This can lead to a happier you. Enjoy the journey!

By Jessica Senick

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