Assertiveness 101

Being assertive takes practice, it doesn’t just happen overnight. It is also hard to be assertive if you struggle with self-worth and self-esteem. Assertiveness basically means being able to confidently and clearly express your thoughts, feelings, opinions, in a calm and respectful way. This is easier said than done. Some women have grown up accommodating others and not considering their own feelings, beliefs, and opinions. After years of doing this, this way of thinking becomes a conditioned response. I’m saying all of this because in order to be assertive, it is necessary for you to value yourself, and believe that your thoughts, feelings, and opinions are just as important as others. So, here are some simple steps to follow in order to feel more comfortable being assertive:

Regularly identify your own thoughts, feelings, and beliefs

If we are not used to considering our own thoughts and feelings, we have to practice doing it until it becomes a habit. I encourage my patients to check in with themselves multiple times per day to identify thoughts, feelings, and other things that might be going on with them. For example. maybe your boss made a comment about your project in a meeting that was unfair. You notice yourself feeling irritated and frustrated the rest of the day, but are not sure why. Checking in with yourself can help you identify where you stand with your feelings, thoughts, opinions and beliefs.

Know the signs that you need to stand up for yourself

We’ve all been in situations that have made us feel “off” in someway. Maybe someone said something or did something that was hurtful or inappropriate. For most of us we react in a physical, cognitive or emotional way. How do you react? It’s important to know how you react when this happens because that is your body and brain telling you that something isn’t right. The next question to ask yourself is, “Do I need to stand up for myself in this situation?”. You always get to decide if you stand up for yourself or not, it is your choice and your right to make that decision.

Remember to value yourself

Some women don’t stand up for themselves because they don’t value themselves. If you don’t value yourself, that will make being assertive very challenging. If you struggle with self-worth, it may be helpful to see a therapist to help you strengthen your self worth. You can also teach yourself to value yourself by saying positive and affirming things to yourself multiple times per day, and not saying critical and judgemental things. This is called an affirmation practice. Try it, it works!

I hope these tips help you practice being assertive more. Reach out anytime and stay healthy.