Do You Assert Yourself Enough?

I noticed that throughout my adult life the people who got to know me and wanted the best for me have always given me this kind of criticism: “you are a kind person with good values and integrity, but you always appear rather absent and dreamy. You withdraw yourself when you are among people. You barely share anecdotes or stories. And, you could show more interest in others.” Or, also “I would like to see you stand up for yourself more.” As an adult, I struggled with depression, anxiety, and low self-worth. I have had a hard time truly connecting with family members and maintaining friendships. Most of the times I tried to keep myself calm and quiet to prevent myself from being “found out”, judged and trapped in a maze of complexity. I avoided confrontations, even though I always desired better connections and more solid communication. What can be done to feeling stuck like this? One step I can take to develop a growth mindset is to improve my assertiveness. 

Both a professional counselor I visited and many studies on assertiveness have taught me that improving my assertiveness will help me to develop a growth mindset. The counselor I met spoke of the importance of assertiveness in the light of the second great commandment “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” I learned that my taciturnity, being reserved and having the tendency to be overly agreeable (by not communicating my needs, my boundaries, my standards, my opinions, my feelings, and emotions) derived from a deterministic world view I held on to. Because of this limiting view and the connected beliefs, I withheld love for myself and for others. “By learning assertiveness,” my counselor taught, “you are going to be challenged. You are going to grow as an individual, and as a result love is going to flow more abundantly into your life, and into the lives of others.” Reading researched material about assertiveness on the internet has also convinced me about the direction this step is leading. On the website Centre for Clinical Interventions, I read “being assertive is an important communication skill which can reduce your levels of depression and anxiety and improve your self-esteem.” Such great benefits! My lingering depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem were often the underlying reasons for me to avoid confrontations with people, to wallow in passivity, and to suffer in a silence learned since childhood. I also learned that assertiveness is the state between passive and aggressive communication. Based on this information I see how being assertive connects to the Bible verse “perfect love casts out fear” and how action relates to developing a growth mindset.

The advice my counselor gave me to assert myself more, coupled with the additional facts I researched about assertiveness have instilled me with the knowledge that anyone who wants to develop as an individual and reach his or her full potential must develop assertiveness, an essential life skill. Do you assert yourself enough?

Poem of the Month: Process

I found this poem by Ashleigh Young in SPORT 44 New Zealand New Writing 2016


All the friends we lost
to self-improvement will come back to us
oddly polished but otherwise the same.

All of the decisions we make in the small hours, to leave, to stay
will also be correct when we wake again.

The great suction that comes from beneath a passing truck
signifies the velocity of the living drawing us near;

when we look back to our dear friends cycling behind us,
their eyes are wide with joy and not terror.

All the friends who avoided our eyes in supermarket aisles
will embrace us in the vegetable markets.

Our erasure of our social media presence will not be half hearted.
On this day our city is as a perfect haircut, its losses gently layered
and what is left, falling gracefully.

If I am riding a horse that takes fright and gallops up a hill,
the horse you are riding will also take fright
and we will be carried away screaming together.

Things will follow due process.
Anything lost, only fallen in long grass.
If I can’t see your face it is only because my face
is pressed into your shoulder.

Pictureless walls sing their freedoms
as if facing a new city, new river, new air.
An open window pulls sheets from the bed
delays their flight, lights up particles of skin and strands of hair.