Appropriate Assertiveness

The development of appropriate assertiveness can be really important in living a healthy, well-balanced life.  Assertive behavior has been referred to as the “golden mean” between being either aggressive on the one hand, or passive on the other.  Individuals who function at either one or the other end of this spectrum often suffer significant negative health effects, including elevated blood pressure, incidence of coronary artery disease, stomach ulcers, and decreased feeling of well being.  Additionally, individuals who tend to be passive suffer from an increased incidence of depression, while those who are aggressive often experience significant interpersonal problems in their work and other personal relationships.

What Is Assertive Behavior?

A good definition of assertive behavior is that it is intended to promote equality in person to person relationships. Assertiveness allows us to act in our own best interest, to stand up for ourselves without undue anxiety, to exercise personal rights without denying the rights of others, and to express our feelings honestly and comfortably.

Assertive behaviors key components include:

  • Standing up for yourself
  • Exercising personal rights
  • Not denying the rights of others
  • Expressing feelings honestly and comfortably (All sorts of feelings: love, affection, anger, disappointment, annoyance, regret, sorrow)

Motivation for Assertiveness

Perhaps even more important than the specific techniques that can be utilized in various situations to achieve assertiveness is first being clear about your motivation for assertiveness. What are your personal rights when it comes to assertiveness?  Much of the proper motivation for assertiveness can be understood by reviewing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations in 1948.  This is so important since if you are not clear about why you are standing up for yourself, your assertiveness skills may not be persuasive since they might lack conviction.  So … some of the articles most relevant to your right to be assertive:

Article 1:

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.  They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 18:

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion …

Article 19:

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression …

Learning to Be Assertive

With clear motivation, and by working to improve your assertiveness skills in different situations, you can learn to stand up for yourself in a healthy, well-balanced way!  Even if it is something with which you have struggled for years, assertiveness is a skill in which you can improve significantly!

At Equilibria Psychological and Consultation Services, we have experienced therapists that work with individuals to help them develop effective strategies to better manage their emotions and learn appropriate ways to assert themselves, including understanding their personal motivations. Learning how to be more assertive, in a healthy way, can truly provide someone a richer sense of self and increased enjoyment in relationships.  Call us at 267-861-3685, Option 1, if you would like to find out more information.