Effective Assertiveness

Therapy for Adults and Adolescents in Farmington Hills, MI

“We are complex beings who wake up every day and fight against being labeled and diminished with stereotypes and characteristics that don’t reflect our fullness.  Yet when we don’t risk standing on our own and speaking out, we perpetuate disconnection and loneliness.”- Brene Brown, Braving the Wilderness

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Common Roadblocks to Effective Assertiveness:  The Real Difference between being Assertive and being EFFECTIVELY Assertive

*Having a shy personality can be a hindrance, but assertiveness can be learned through mindful behavior and adaptability.

*Difficulty in emotional regulation is a sign of weakness in both personal and professional settings.  Frustration, anger and disappointment can lead to emotional reactions that limit effectiveness.  Actually, assertiveness can help you control stress and anger and improve coping skills.

*Low self-esteem affects sense of self pride, self worth negatively and increases ones tendency to self doubt and self criticize. It’s hard to earn someone else’s respect if you don’t believe in yourself.

*Lacking cultural sensitivity to the receiver of your assertiveness. This can apply to workplace culture, as well as race, religion, gender and sexual orientation.

*Not setting realistic goals to make small changes and stick to them.

*Lack of self-awareness of when being under-assertive is not getting results, and being overly-assertiveness can create friction.

*Lack of boundary setting opens you up to unwelcomed behavior and interactions.  By let letting others know your expectations, others can get the wrong impression of you that you’re a push over.  Remember, boundaries differ widely from relationship to relationship especially as it pertains to a work vs. a personal setting.

*Not knowing how to ask for what you want without experiencing fear of reprimand   To fix this problem, seek help from knowledgeable, experienced and trusted teachers to model effective assertiveness. Be a humble student so you can learn this important life skill.

*Not being willing to be socially engaged to practice assertiveness training, and not being willing to accept constructive feedback from others how your assertiveness practice is going.

*Making an erroneous association with assertiveness means to be aggressive to get results. That’s not assertiveness; that’s bullying.

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Another Common Roadblock to Effective Assertiveness: FEAR

Fear holds us back from speaking what we truly feel with great articulation.  Fear obscures our vision to see our strength and courage.  In spite of what we know we should do, we continue to fear rejection, ridicule, and defeat.  We reject our own intuition when we silence ourselves.  We are ridiculing our own ability to stand up for ourselves when we hold back the truth.  We are practicing self-defeatism by not exploring our potential to say how we feel.  Getting the message out clearly is the key.  We don’t want to blurt out just anything.  We want to like they say, “pick and choose our battles”.  But when it counts, and your gut is telling you that holding back is stifling, then it’s time to act! It’s the act of effective assertiveness that helps us resolve our ambivalence.

Remember these roadblocks that have been placed in front of you are merely figments of your own imagination. Take your will power and let your mind picture these roadblocks being moved out of the way to create a clear path for you to carry on.

Don’t Let the Past Define You

Those of us who grew up in upbringings that brought on emotional, psychological, spiritual and physical challenges can relate to not feeling like you had a “Leg Up” in when you grew up and entered the “Adult Real World”. If we are wise, we sympathize for our parent’s plight during their childhood, and what they lacked in their upbringing that overlapped with their parenting with you.  For example, a child having a domineering father who criticized his child for demonstrating individual differences of opinion.  This pattern of speaking up and getting punished for it becomes a negative association for the child. Now the child becomes silenced and fearful. In the meantime, the child is not learning essential life skills such as self-advocacy and self-assertion.

So, it’s no wonder why you may struggle with speaking up for yourself EFFECTIVELY if you never received the MODELING of effective assertiveness.  Go easy on yourself as you continue to build your skills for self-advocacy.  It’s normal to feel uncomfortable with practicing verbal expression of your thoughts and beliefs.  Observe the discomfort and continue working on self-improvement.

We need to at some point in our lifetime to forgive them, and accept their weaknesses.  This release of anger is the ultimate healer for you.

Whether your parents are here or not here doesn’t determine your ability to forgive.  You can forgive and let go no matter where your parents are in the universe.

We can hope and pray for our parents to change. Create your own inner parenting. Blame for your parents has its place and time. Know when it’s time to let go what is no longer needed to hold on to.

“Life is not a dress rehearsal. THIS IS SHOWTIME!”- R.R. Hayman, Alphabet Advice for Adults

Release the grudge you hold that is weighing you down from living a happier life.  If you don’t know how to be assertive, don’t blame yourself either. Simply, get started in working of the skill of self-assertion.

Consider a scenario of a kid who got little attention and would seek negative attention, because negative attention is better than none at all. It’s likely this child could grow up into adults who continue to go for negative strokes. Now the adult wonders why he/she is having difficulty maintaining long-term relationships.  People who are skilled in assertiveness are highly self-aware individuals who feel that their voice counts. If you’re a girl who grew up in a house where you coped with parental intimidation by silencing yourself, you may be shy, or quit as an adult.  While you were growing up, if your parents put you on a pedestal, you may feel entitled as an adult to be overly assertive, Perhaps you had to lay when you were a kid to survive in an abusive family upbringing. Now as an adult, you may have a problem with being honest with people.  You may fear judgement, punishment, chastisement, and consequence as you may have had growing up. So your instinct tells you not be effectively assertiveness because of how you remember as kid that being assertiveness meant something painful would happen, bi it emotional or physical.

At any rate, the past does not define us. The past does not have to be a predictor of the future unless you let it happen that way.  You do have control to change this. Be patient, kind and forgiving to yourself. Know it’s a process. Success results come from taking the right steps along the way.

When an adult who has little to no experience with being assertive, a common response of acting assertiveness for the fist time in adulthood the person can be overly assertive.  This can be problematic and counterproductive

When you speak the truth, it’s freeing. When a person says “yes” when she means “no”, she feels inwardly stifled and conflicted within herself. But when she can be honest and not walk on eggshells like she did as a child, she can get things done.  This increases her quality of life, and reduces stress, tension, anxiety, anger, frustrations,  and worry.

Self-advocacy reflects one's ability to say what you mean, and mean what you say.  Being articulate is one's message is what will make the difference between being convincing or not being influential.  You matter.  Your voice counts.  You are not invisible.  Your contribution of what you have to say is needed in the world.  Don’t underestimate it.  Your ability to speak up could be a deal breaker for achieving greater success in your life.

Consider the “W’s” when Preparing to Communicate with  Assertiveness:  Thinking It Through

* What am I trying to say ?   What am I trying to accomplish?

( How will I convey my message?)

* Why is this so important to me?

* When would it be a good time to communicate my message?

* Who is the appropriate person to speak to right now?


Try to connect with people when you’re trying to articulate what you’re trying to communicate. Look them in the eyes. Keep your chin up, and your shoulders back. Sit up proud.  Speak and act like you matter.  Smiling and injecting light humor when well suited can be highly advantageous. The clearer your message is, the more resolute you appear in your stance.

Deliver with execution.  Make your point short and pithy.  Your content is understandable to your specified audience.   Make it known to the listener that you’ve thought this out for quite some time with mindfulness, sensitivity and genuineness.

Say what you think is at the “tip of your tongue” and let the words come out and flow with positive energy.   Take personal accountability to convey your desired message to the right person/s at the right time with good intention. You are not to blame for your words if your intention is coming from a pure place in your heart and mind.  With this, there shouldn’t be regrets for trying.  You feel regret when you hold back what you really wanted to say.

Here are Some Examples of Being Effectively Assertive:

“That sounds like a great suggestion.  Let me think it over and back to you this evening when I have more information.”

*“I appreciate your perspective but I do not agree”

*“I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying. Can you please clarify?”

*”This isn’t a good time to discuss this. A better time for me would be this afternoon.”

*”I prefer not to continue this conversation. That’s a sore subject.”

*“What were you trying to accomplish when you said that hurtful statement to me?”

*“Although I’d really like to do that, my schedule doesn’t allow at this time. I will let you know when that changes. Thanks for considering me.”

*“No thank you.”

*“Let me get back to you. I need some time to think this through.”

Making “I” Statements is an Effective Way to be Assertive

Making Statements in the first person (“I Statements”) helps to communicate better.   Using “you” statements like, “you made me angry” can come across blaming to the other person.  Using “I” statements like, “I get so mad when you use the F-word. Your use of swears words are very disturbing to me.  ” I-Statements contains three essential components of effective assertiveness.  I statements are defined as a brief, non-blameful description of the BEHAVIOR you find unacceptable, your FEELINGS, and the tangible and concrete EFFECT of the behavior on you.

To Close- Please Appreciate this Mindful Exercise:

Take a moment…… and close your eyes while meditating on how you can become more effectively assertive.  Self empower to be the one to have the answers to your own questions.  Be your inner parent, and raise yourself up.  Even though our bodies are done growing, our minds and awareness are constantly changing and developing.  It’s never too late to create new ways of being able to stand up for yourself with meaning and purpose.

This poem written by Martha Elliot titled, Your History is here inside your body” evokes a feeling to reach inside, and take what has always been yours—your ability to stand up for yourself. You matter. Your life is worth fighting for!!

Y our history is here inside your body.

Your body is your storehouse.

Of learning’s, feelings, thoughts and experiences.

Only waiting to be invited to reveal your treasures to yourself.

Help yourself.

As you let the learning emerge and take shape, you can

Appreciate the wisdom of the body.

Each cell alive with spirit, emotion and intelligence.

Ready to help you at any moment,

Always with you and for you.

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For any questions or more information, you can contact Rebecca at 248-459-9191.

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