9 Powerful Habits to Make You Assertive
It’s a great feeling when you can go from being a very passive person to one who’s assertive. I have been there and can tell you. Like many people, telling people what I wanted, exactly how I wanted it, wasn’t my forte. No. I don’t think I got that “gift” at birth. Rather, I was passive in communicating my opinions, wishes, and feelings.
I once heard the saying, “Life doesn’t give you what you expect of it, but what you demand.” This was at a point in life where I couldn’t speak up for myself and couldn’t care less about making a life demand. But there’s no way around it. If you cannot make a demand on life or people, you will get whatever they throw at you.
With your feminine charm, you might get a few handouts here and there. Sometimes, giving has done you the most good and you have to pay it back. But to get what you want from people, your relationships, and your life, you must learn to assert yourself. Being able to assert yourself is good, yet hard for most women.
Why is that?
There are many reasons but here’s one that comes to mind.
We are taught (in some form or another) as ladies to be indirect with our requests—and almost everything else. We are not meant to be aggressive or forceful about anything. We’ve been taught to position ourselves to be chased, instead of chasing. The result is that society has cultured many of us to never be proactive about our desires and opinions. But worse still is the fact that when you start directly asking for things, without fronting your sexuality as a woman, you appear too forceful.
So this creates a dilemma, an uphill battle most women have to overcome. On one hand, is being cultured to be passive. On the other hand, we are mostly evaluated in the eyes of others, not in our own eyes. Hence, many women think first about what others will say before considering whether it helps or not. This is a dangerous place to be. But all that’s about to change!
Another reason is the feeling that being direct can be offensive. And since they have taught us to be good people, the last thing we want to do is to offend anyone.
Before talking about how to change it, I want to first help you understand what it means to be assertive. I’ll also highlight the power it holds for you.
Being assertive is being true to yourself, honest, but direct. It falls right between being passive and aggressive—the healthy middle. It is speaking up for yourself while also respecting others’ wishes and boundaries. It is becoming proactive about making your opinions and desires known, and letting people know what you want.
While there are times to be passive, overall, if you’re passive, you’re seen as weak and would be taken advantage of most times. You just won’t get enough of what you want from life. On the other hand, if you are aggressive, you will often come off as hostile. The result is that many people will not readily open up their “treasure troves” to you. Many will run away from or resent you—if they do not return the aggression. None of these extremes is a place you want to dwell in.
You want to be in a position of power as a woman. You want to be able to speak up for yourself, stand your ground, and get what you want without coming off as forceful or fronting your sexuality.
The best way to learn, cultivate, and make anything permanent in your life is to make a habit of it. In regards to becoming assertive, there are powerful habits that make you more assertive. I’m sure you know what habits are but let me break it down simply.
Habits are things we do often—routine practises, if I may. These activities can be good or bad for you, but the fact that you do them repeatedly means you have made a habit of them. Habits are so powerful that they decide our lives, success, what we become, and everything else. For those of you trying to become assertive, this means that if you learn the right habits, becoming assertive will be second nature. It’ll be easy. So my goal in the next section is to show you some things you should start practising to help you reach enviable heights of assertiveness.
Here are the powerful habits that make you more assertive
1. Self-Building Habits
These are habits that build you from within to help you with becoming assertive.
2. Develop Your Self-Worth
Your ability to be assertive is heavily dependent on how much you value yourself as a person and as a lady. Do things that build your perception of yourself. Engage in positive self-talk. Invest in yourself by reading, working out to keep fit and healthy, and doing anything else that serves you and your personality.
One reason you might not be assertive with your requests, opinions, or needs is that you are wondering what the other party will think of you and say. Stop being afraid of what everyone else thinks of you, except what you think of yourself. This is a crucial reason you must see yourself in the best possible light.
Understand that it is not everyone else’s responsibility to see you in the best way. It’s your job to do that and communicate it. Theirs is to see themselves in the best possible way and to see you in the way you communicate. If you don’t talk, they won’t know. And even if they don’t accept it, that’s okay. But you have to have a good picture of yourself and let everyone know it.
3. Set boundaries and stick with them
Very often, people will need you to do things—demand you, if I may. It’s just how life is. If you have no personal or professional boundaries, you’ll do everything, stress yourself out, and not do the things that are important to you, all while resenting yourself for indulging in everything that was asked of you. I’m telling you this from experience, including those of others. I want it to sink into you: YOU NEED BOUNDARIES TO PROTECT YOURSELF AND YOUR PEACE.
I can tell you from experience that when people know your boundaries and still ask you to go beyond them, it’s easy to say no. And if the other person is offended by you, you will not need to do much explaining—after all, they already knew.
When it comes to your boundaries, however, the major challenge is sticking to them. Setting and defining boundaries is much easier. The onus is on you to operate within the boundaries you define. You can’t set them and bulge at every request someone makes of you. It is easier for you to break your boundaries than it is for someone to make you break them. So, even when no one is watching or asking, stick to your boundaries. It helps to improve your confidence, which, in turn, boosts your assertiveness.
4. Stop trying to control other people’s responses
Passive people often go from allowing everyone else to dictate what becomes of them to passive aggression. I know this from experience. As a passive, when I found myself in certain situations and had to come out with something good, I often went from not demanding anything to wanting everything, trying to control people to get all I wanted, and getting frustrated when I got none or just a little.
My dear woman, you cannot control what or how people respond to you. So let that go. Focus instead on saying what you want or making your demands with honesty. Focus on being true to yourself. Let them be true to themselves. After all, they too have a right to be assertive, right?
5. Acknowledge Truths And Accept Criticism
Sometimes, people start out asserting themselves. Then, when met with a little criticism, they fall back to passiveness and accept whatever anyone else says. Understand this: criticism is a normal part of life. People will have complaints about different things and even overtly criticize you for one thing or the other. Be open-minded. If there’s any truth in what they say, accept it. Yet, focus on being direct with what you want. If it’s a complaint, don’t just dismiss it. Accept the other person’s point of view and acknowledge when the concern is genuine. Still speak up for yourself afterwards. Only make concessions when every party involved stands to benefit. But stop self-sacrificing every time someone criticizes you or complains about something.
6. Communication Habits
These habits improve how you make your feelings, wishes, needs, demands, etc. known to people without appearing as a bully or hostile.
7. Learn to say “No”
That simple two-letter word is one you have to have a healthy relationship with. It will save you a lot of stress and unnecessary explanations. Besides, what other easy way is there to turn down things that go against your value or will negatively impact you than to say “no”? Make it a habit to say “No” when something goes against your values or makes a demand on you that you cannot fulfil.
8. Make clear and simple statements
Make it a habit to express yourself or your needs in simple, concise statements. Using long, winding statements won’t help you to become assertive. I know what you’re thinking, “I have to say what I want, explain why I want it, let everyone involve feel okay about it, and not feel like I am something I’m not.” Some of those may be true. Still, use short sentences and stop worrying about what everyone else on the planet will think or how they will feel.
9. Use “I” Statements When Communicating
People’s major concern regarding being assertive is that they might make the other party feel uneasy or offended. Here’s a simple solution. When communicating your needs, opinions, feelings, etc., instead of focusing your statements on the other person, use “I” statements. For example, instead of saying, “You should…”, say, “I think” or “I feel” and so on. What this does for the listener is that it takes away whatever might spook them off or make them feel offended. This way, you pass your message across without the need for the other person to be overly defensive or even feel attacked. Aggressive people make others want to defend themselves. You strip them of that need when you use “I” statements.
Many people ask, “Can you be assertive without being aggressive?”
The answer is a resounding “Yes!”
Being assertive is critical to healthy relationships and living a stress-free life. I have said that assertiveness lies in the healthy middle between passivity and aggression. So, it is possible to be assertive without being aggressive. One reason many people tend toward being aggressive (besides underlying personal issues) is that being aggressive seems to help people accomplish things. Or at least that’s how it appears. Yet, if you are assertive, you can make demands on life and people without coming off as pushy, rude, or overly forceful as aggressive people often appear.
Being assertive, therefore, gives you the power, aggressive people seem to have, and the perceived harmlessness that passive people have. In other words, you become powerful without spooking people off or making them resent you in any way. As the good book says, you become as wise—and get what you want—as a serpent, but as harmless as a dove. Knowing this, it is essential to cultivate the different habits highlighted above to help you become assertive.
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Hi! I'm Dr Jessica
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Hey there, amazing women in your 20s and 30s! Are you ready to level up your communication skills and supercharge your relationships? I’m here to guide you on this exciting journey.
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