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Does “No” Seem To be The Hardest Word To Say ?

    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 understand that you should express your opinions and feelings even if they may be unfavorable or disliked by another person.

    People who struggle to be assertive often report feeling burdened with thoughts such as; “What if the other person gets mad at me?” or “What if they tell me I am wrong and no longer like me?“ Nonassertive people often have a magnified fear that a person may react poorly such as yelling at them or talk negatively about them to others.  This fear may have originated from past relationships where someone displayed this type of behavior. Therefore, this person learned to stop advocating for themselves since doing so resulted in a very upsetting dynamic. They falsely expect everyone to behave in a dysfunctional manner and therefore try to protect themselves.  They develop a lot of anxiety around communicating. However, in a relationship, if a person cannot understand and acknowledge your right to express your wants and needs  then it cannot be a healthy relationship. Despite what they may say, they are likely the problem, not you.  Your lack of advocating for yourself cheats you out of the possibility for a mutually respectful relationship and allows the other person to continue their disregard for you.

    How do you learn to be assertive? First, it is important to have awareness when someone is denying your rights. It may also be that you may need to work on your relationship with yourself to assure you have healthy self-esteem and confidence. You can practice using assertive communication styles through role playing. You can practice this with someone you feel comfortable with. Use select words such as “I feel” or “I prefer” as these statements demonstrate your right to express your feelings and opinions. Start with smaller, less threatening situations and gradually work toward your more feared encounters. You may want to seek out a mental health professional to explore underlying issues such as self worth issues, depression. You may need counseling on how to leave an unhealthy relationship.

    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 attract healthier people in your life which will result in more fulfilling relationships. Assertiveness skills also helps with stress management which can decrease your anxiety and lead to a more peaceful existence.

    If you or someone you know is looking for help with being assertive, please contact me to schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation.