I struggle with assertiveness. I can be assertive; I just don’t know when to be assertive and when to keep my mouth shut. I often confuse assertiveness with rudeness because that’s what was modeled for me growing up. Case and point, growing up, my mom would use slurs or scream at people to get her way. Same thing with my father. I remember my dad yelling at a kid he was going to kick his ass after he saw the kid kicking the gate that led to our neighborhood.
My lack of understanding of assertiveness and when to use it has been destructive for my mental health. I am prone to resentment, depression, and anxiety from not speaking up when people have taken advantage of me. But I’ve also felt mortified and shame after I blurted something out an inappropriate time. For instance, I remember in college; I blurted out to a classmate, who had a crush on my friend, that she thought he was awkward. The guy felt super embarrassed, and my friend was ready to strangle me.
I’ve struggled in relationships because I’m a doormat with a land mine installed. I don’t want to show my reaction or tell my feelings because it’ll show weakness, but in the end, there is only so much I can take that I explode. In my mind, bursting out in anger is my form of assertiveness, but others perceive it as an attack.
Mr. Squigglekins told me that being assertiveness doesn’t mean acting bitchy or hurting people. Rather, it’s about getting your feelings across so that the other person can empathize. Even though Mr. Squgglekins is right, I argue that the individual who hurt me deserves to feel my pain. A tit for tat is my family motto. It’s an unhealthy mindset that I’m continually changing.
As I’m changing my perception of assertiveness to a better one, here are some assertiveness techniques that I found on the internet.
- It’s okay to feel anger, but be respectful when expressing it.
- Say what’s on your mind, but protect the other person’s feelings. A person can do this by using “I” statements instead of “You” statements.
- Control your emotions by not allowing it to fester but conquering it head-on by either questioning why you’re feeling a particular emotion or expressing the emotion to the directed person in a calm, but firm manner.
- Speak up for yourself and confront people who challenge you/and or your rights.
I still struggle when in being assertive but at least it’s better than not trying at all.