As a child, I was a people pleaser. I used to go out of my way to please everyone. Although I believe it was the reason behind my search for acceptance, in hindsight I can see it didn’t do me any favours.
What started as a kind gesture on my part became a habit to everyone else, because they knew I would never say no. What’s more, it seemed contagious because it didn’t stop with one person. I simply wasn’t assertive enough.
Just because someone isn’t good at saying no, it doesn’t mean others should take advantage. It doesn’t put those taking advantage in a particularly good light. I was continually being coerced into doing things, because I was too soft.
Things stayed like that for years, but I must have at some point unconsciously had enough, because as soon as I decided to change my perceptions, my attitude changed. For the first time I became assertive and things began to change.
It is our attitude that sets the tone on how things will go. The more positive and assertive we are, the less likely others will take advantage, and the more we will stand up for ourselves. And although confidence plays its part too, a permanent change of attitude is necessary.
As I began to reflect on my circumstances and the bigger picture, I began to perceive my experiences differently. Issues began to feel easier, I began to feel more in control of how I felt. My spiritual beliefs had a lot to do with the process, also. We must challenge ourselves to work through our own set of circumstances.
The new ‘me’ found a voice. If I choose to do something now I’ll do it, just as I choose not to do something. I call my own shots.
The following suggestions may be useful to those who struggle with being assertive:
- Express your feelings, even if your feelings don’t concur with someone else’s;
- Say what you feel when you need to;
- If others are capable of being responsible for themselves, you have a right to say no to taking on responsibility for them;
- You are entitled to have your own thoughts and opinions;
- You have a right to say no if what you’re being asked isn’t something you want to do;
- You don’t need to seek approval from others;
- It’s okay to have your own opinions and not allow others to dictate the way they see you.
Our life is for us. We have a right to be assertive, in the same way others choose to be assertive for themselves.