28 March 2019
Being assertive means being able to speak up for yourself whilst respecting the rights and beliefs of others: assertiveness . I see it as respecting yourself as well as others with a sense of responsibility for the possible outcomes. Sometimes choosing not to be assertive can be as valid as being assertive.
Speaking up for ourselves depends a lot on how much confidence and self-esteem we possess in any given situation. Learning to respect and trust yourself can support being assertive and in turn assertiveness can boost self-confidence. How do you build this self-confidence so that you can be assertive? There are some simple practical things we can do that may help us to feel better about ourselves:building-confidence-and-self-esteem .
I think learning to believe in yourself can take time and effort if you have experienced negative criticism in your life. We may internalise a criticism even if we think it is unfair so finding a counter-balance voice to that negative inner critic can support us: 5 easy-ways-to-silence-your-inner-critic/ .
What if you manage to speak up for yourself but you get criticised or ridiculed? This is always a risk and can feel hard when you first start out but if you can build that core belief in yourself it becomes easier not to crumble in the face of criticism. Being assertive means accepting that you cannot change others but you can take care of yourself. Understanding that other people may hold their views for all sorts of reasons does not mean you have to accept them. Just because someone criticises does not mean it is the whole truth. You can reflect on criticism but you do not have to accept it. You have rights and choices too.
Being assertive carries rights and responsibilities. We often have to make a choice about whether to speak up so being aware of risks and consequences is important. Not speaking up can also carry consequences- including how we may feel about ourselves. Balancing these choices is a personal decision. Overall speaking up for ourselves can be a self-supporting experience and being able to choose when you use it is an important skill to develop that helps us manage our lives.