Are you a doormat? Do you let people walk all over you, never standing up for yourself or your needs? Maybe you always say yes and put everyone else’s needs ahead of your own.
Many women believe that their role is to just stay quiet and please others. There is often a belief that speaking up or standing up for yourself makes you a nasty person. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
What really makes you nasty is all the pent up anger and resentment of never mattering and living a life about everyone other than yourself.
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, being assertive simply means being characterized by confident statements and behavior. How is it that so many people find the negative connotation in that? Being assertive is actually a positive and necessary trait.
Only someone who is confident enough to assert their needs, desires and worthiness will ever get the love and respect they deserve.
Being assertive does not mean you are a selfish jerk. It simply means you value yourself and know how to be confident and deliberate in your choices. It also means you know how to do this with kindness and compassion.
You don’t get a free pass for being mean or cruel to others. This is about taking better care of yourself and your needs, not about putting others down.
Here are some tips and examples of how to be assertive
Learn how to say no
Only say yes to things that really matter to you and that you actually time to devote to. You don’t have to be on every committee, be the class parents, host or plan every event. You’re not obligated to attend every wedding, birthday party or family holiday. But learning how to say no takes some skill.
You must learn that you actually don’t owe anybody any explanations. Do not let your guilt get the best of you and start trying to justify or defend your position. Example: Calling your family to tell them you can’t make it to your 3-year-old nephew’s birthday party this year. You can literally call and just say, “I’m so sorry that we won’t be able to make it this year. Please wish Joey a very happy birthday from us.”
What you don’t need to do is make excuses, such as, “We just have so much going on with work and the kids, and the flights are so expensive.” If you do this, you set yourself up to be challenged, and then you will feel that you have to defend your position. Don’t allow that to happen.
Be direct, kind and firm. That’s all it takes. You will find that it gets easier and easier the more you do it.
Say what you mean and mean what you say
You do not need to tiptoe around what you are feeling or what you really want to communicate to others. Be clear, concise, and direct with your words. You should always try to be as kind as possible, but you are not responsible for other people’s feelings. You have a right to express yourself appropriately.
Don’t be so afraid all the time of hurting someone else’s feelings. Your feelings matter, too. If someone is asking you to do something you don’t feel right doing, you can say, “That makes me uncomfortable. I won’t do that.”
You don’t owe it to anyone to sweet coat it and say things like, “I’m not sure” or “I don’t know, maybe”. You don’t have to be a jerk either. I’m not suggesting that you say things that are mean or cruel. It’s probably best not to call someone an idiot just because you don’t like what they’ve asked of you.
Just stay calm, be firm and direct, and move on.
Ask for what you want and need
Can you read other people’s minds? I didn’t think so, and they can’t read yours either. So why would you assume another person knows what you want or need? They don’t, so they will always fail to meet your wishes if don’t assert yourself.
Again, this doesn’t have to look like you being a rude, controlling ass. Rather, it’s actually kind to tell someone nicely what you’d like from them. For example, you can tell your family, “I need 30 minutes of quiet to finish something for work, and then we can all do something together,” rather than not speaking up and then getting angry at everyone for making noise and not knowing you needed quiet time to finish your work.
Use “I” statements
Rather than criticizing others with statements that start with, “You always,” “you never” or “can’t you just,” try starting with the word “I” followed by how you feel, you thoughts, or your wish. For example, when you say, “I would like you to help me tonight by bathing the kids and reading them a story” that sounds a lot different from saying, “You never help me with the kids!”.
Remember to love yourself
When you love yourself, you will not tolerate being walked all over and being taking advantage of. Remind yourself that you are worthy of respect and don’t ever do something that compromises your values or your integrity.
You are worthy of having your needs met, and you deserve to be happy. With a bit of time and practice, you can learn how to do all of the above and feel more freedom and peace in your life.