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?

THE YOUNG MAN BY THE ROSES

“It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.” 
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

He lays him down so oftentimes
Still thinking of grand paradigms
And look! A rosebush sees him

Its roses blush for it is spring
And naturally start to sing
He, listening to their sweet hymn

The roses speak of love gone by
And revelling, he wonders why
I must be dreaming, o Lord

Such beauty nature brings! Such bliss
The rosebush renders me love’s kiss
A rose to gladden my heart

Soon, when he meets a lovely girl
And butterflies within him whirl
And whole his world is spinning

He’ll climb the holy mount of love
That ecstasy from high above
Be part of his bold winning

WHAT IS POETRY?

What is Poetry? Is it a dying
Black ink on amber colored paper?
Or sex at seven pm?

Please, let me know.
I have prayed, immersed myself in meditation,
Sought for answers, writing furiously,
Checked my e-mails, had breakfast,…

My son and I are going to the purple mountain
To listen to the song thrush and the nightingale
And move nearby the dust among the ruins
Like swirling snakes in the yellow sand.

Briskly broom away the clouds
that suffocate the view.
A starry night has stories to fish for,
rains of memories to enter the fire
that wildly sings.

My woolen doll… so long ago… that little man,
My grandma made… when did I outgrow …

Vincent, do you know?
(His picture’s on my bedside table)
Why do you look at me like that?
Boiled egg! Lightbulb! Rhododendron!

I remember sitting as a boy, ‘t was an early Saturday morning,
In the spacious seat of my dad’s white company car,
A bit drowsy, carsick and uncomfortable.
But, I felt honored like a little prince.
He gave me sandwiches and butter cakes.

While managing the wheel he redressed my life.
We sat there side by side rather quietly,
mostly silenced by ourselves.
My papa has never been a talker,
And the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

But, unlike him, I love poetry.
So, let me softly hand you the poems I’ve made
Like the wind and the creatures that circulate
The pollen of sweet and violated flowers.
Just like that.