Do you find it difficult to say how you feel?
If a lack of assertiveness is keeping you awake at night, help is at hand. You can escape the anger, depression and anxiety it causes with the skills to stand up for yourself, comfortably and calmly.
“Just stand up for yourself!” Have you heard that a million times before?
It’s what your well-meaning friends tell you when you complain about the workplace bully or the cruel remarks of a nagging relative. Or what you tell yourself when you lie awake at night.
The problem is, they don’t know what it’s like to not be assertive.
That constant mix of anxiety and anger
The stomach-twisting fear just thinking about any potential confrontation.
The bottled-up rage at others for openly manipulating you.
And the fury at yourself for not putting a stop to it.
Other people might think ‘not being assertive’ doesn’t sound like a big deal.
Who cares if you’re shy, or care a lot about people’s feelings? That’s not the end of the world, they might think. It means you’re a nice person, just a bit meek.
That’s because people who are assertive don’t quite realise how hopeless it feels when you can’t stand up for yourself.
Does Miranda’s story sound familiar?
‘No other 33 year old feels like a child all the time!’ Miranda thinks crossly to herself, during another sleepless night of worrying.
Miranda’s parents had short tempers, and they spent most of her childhood dealing with their own problems, not raising her.
Miranda learnt that the quieter she was, the happier things were at home. She used the same technique at school, and that kept the bullies away - somewhat.
As she’s grown older she’s more at peace with her childhood, but keeping quiet and not saying how she really feels has become a deeply entrenched habit.
A damaging habit which is badly affecting everything in her life.
Take work for instance. She manages to get jobs easily - Miranda’s a warm and friendly person and her work speaks for itself.
But she leaves every job after a few years because she gets taken advantage of, or downright bullied, every time.
It’s like bullies can detect her a mile away. Within only a few months, at each new job, she goes back to feeling manipulated and hurt all over again.
Passive-aggressive? Or just scared of confrontation?
Her relationships have been the same. She’s had quite a few long term boyfriends but they always end the same way - with her partner telling her he can’t stand being with someone so passive-aggressive.
Miranda doesn’t want to be passive aggressive - she wants to be direct and honest when something annoys her, instead of worrying that no one will like her if she says something critical. But just the thought of confronting someone makes her feel sick with fear.
If she could confront anyone, it would be her Aunt Judy. She probably has good intentions, but she’s always telling Miranda what to do! What clothes to wear, where to go on holiday, who to date.
She feels like a teenager whenever Aunt Judy’s around, but unlike a teenager she never rebels. She does what she’s told, knowing it’ll buy her a few minutes of happiness before the maddening ‘suggestions’ start up again.
Miranda spends hours lying awake thinking about the way people have treated her, bubbling with anger at them and herself. Sometimes she imagines telling them off, but then her emotions switch to panic and her heart races - just at the idea of it!
Those two emotions - anger and anxiety - seem to take up most of her life.
‘I wish I could be like Claire!’ Miranda sometimes thinks.
Her best friend is warm, friendly and hard-working too but she can stand up for herself. It’s not that Claire yells at people but there’s something very no-nonsense about her. Aunt Judy has never told Claire what to do!
Salesmen never get too pushy with her. And because of her assertiveness Claire seems so much happier. Growing up Claire always had nice boyfriends, and she and her husband seem to really love and respect each other.
Claire’s a manager now and has had to fire people before. She doesn’t like it, but she’ll do it if need be. Miranda would never be able to fire someone. Her heart races at the very thought. She can’t tell a waiter her food is cold!
‘It’s too late though’, Miranda reflects. ‘Claire was born with good genes - her parents are really confident people. There’s no way I could ever become like her. I’ve been terrified of confrontation all my life. I’m a magnet to bullies and that’s never going to change.’
Could lack of assertiveness be negatively affecting a lot of your life?
We get emails every week from people like Miranda. Many of them have struggled with a lack of assertiveness for as long as they can remember, and it’s affecting every part of their lives - work, friendships, relationships.
Being able to voice your opinion and stand up for yourself when need be sends off signals to manipulative people (interfering relatives, workplace bullies, pushy sales people) that you won’t be coerced into anything.
There’s a cliche that assertive people are belligerent and opinionated, yelling when angry and totally unapproachable. But that’s not what assertiveness really is. Those people are just plain rude!
· Being assertive is not about being rude...
· Being assertive is not about yelling at people.
· Being assertive is not about losing control and letting anger out.
· Being assertive is not about being unapproachable.
· Being assertive isn’t assuming everyone in the world is out to get you.
· Being assertive doesn’t mean you don’t care at all what others think of you.
· Being assertive doesn’t mean you always get your own way.
The snake that learnt to hiss
The snake was vicious, snarling, and dangerous. He terrified the villagers, biting the children and scaring all the adults. But sometimes he felt lonely and craved companionship.
One day, a wise man wandered into the village. He clearly saw the chaos the snake's actions had brought.
Because this is a story and he was wise, he could speak to the snake and, on gaining the reprobate's trust, said, "Listen up, snake. You're not only making the people here unhappy, but you yourself are clearly miserable. Practice some kindness and gentleness to improve the lot of everyone here, including you." And so the wise man went on his way.
Years later, the wise one happened to pass again through that same village. To his surprise, he saw an inert, passive plaything being kicked by the children. He realized that this was, in fact, none other than the formally aggressive serpent he'd had words with years before. The snake managed to free himself from his tormentors and slide up to the man.
"Your advice was disastrous!" he hissed faintly. "Practicing gentleness has brought me complete misery! Now I'm used as a toy, laughed at, and taken for granted. I was better off before!"
The old man replied, "You took my advice too literally and without reflection. I said that you shouldn't bite... but I didn't say you should never hiss!"
Assertiveness is a muscle you flex occasionally
A truly assertive person is polite and kind to their colleagues, but when one starts to take advantage of them, they’ll calmly put a stop to it.
A truly assertive person is a good friend, but if they are treated badly they’ll let their friend know how hurt they are.
An assertive person feels comfortable test-driving a car, or trying on an outfit and telling the sales person it’s not right.
An assertive person gives everyone the benefit of the doubt, but won’t give too many chances.
An assertive person has an aura about them that shows they won’t be pushed around.
And best of all, assertive people are genuinely liked and respected
If you think about your own friends, you'll realise that the opinion of an assertive friend means more to you.
Fundamentally, people know that assertive-avoidant people have problems being honest with them on touchy topics. And assertive people are assertive about good things too - they’re happy to give praise and positive feedback.
Assertiveness is a skill and like any skill it can be taught so it becomes an innate part of you. Like learning to drive, or speaking a language; you can learn it and make it a habit. Certainly some people learn it in childhood but adults can become assertive at any age.
It’s a simple matter of changing your emotions around assertiveness, and learning some good communication skills.
That’s where our approach differs from a lot of other courses.
Why focus on calming the emotions behind assertiveness?
Well, it’s because if you are very calm about the thought of being assertive, then the battle is nearly won.
It’s so much easier to refuse to do something when you aren’t gripped with anxiety the other person won’t like you.
It’s so much easier to stand your ground when you aren’t trembling with fear.
And it’s impossible to give off that aura of confidence and assertiveness if at heart you aren’t.
Hypnosis is a natural and fast way of changing your emotions about assertiveness
Hypnosis changes the way your unconscious mind reacts to situations, or imagined situations. It gently and naturally easies your fears about confrontation and anxiety over not being liked so that being assertive becomes a natural part of your personality.
What are the 10 Steps to Absolute Assertiveness?
Step 1 - Setting Boundaries
Change your attitude to personal boundaries and start to establish healthy relationships by making it clear to yourself and others where you stand.
Step 2 - Saying No
Develop a new approach on how to refuse, polite but firm and avoiding the emotional turmoil and stress of automatically saying yes.
Step 3 - Assertiveness Training
Stand your ground and express your truth confidently, when this is the appropriate thing for you to do. Start voicing your views and stop bottling up your true feelings.
Step 4 - Fear of Authority
Learn to relax and be confident with people in positions of power or authority. Reframe your image of people in power to those of people to respect (unless they cross a line) not people to fear.
Step 5 - Overcome an Inferiority Complex
Break the habit of feeling inferior to others and stop worrying what others think of you. Overcoming your inferiority complex is a massive leap towards self-respect.
Step 6 - Overcome Fear of Confrontation
You know you need to shift your fear of conflict and confrontation, and will-power alone isn’t going to cut it. Create a new blueprint of inner strength and clarity, where the old fears melt away and you are more ready to face life, no matter what it throws at you, facing conflict or confrontation calmly and in control.
Step 7 - No More Mr Nice Guy
Start deciding just how nice you want to be instead of defaulting to being ‘nice’ in every situation. When you are prepared to go against the flow sometimes and hold your position, other people begin to appreciate and respect you more.
Step 8 - Express Your Opinion
Leave the frustration and powerlessness of not expressing your opinion behind and start being better understood and appreciated as people listen to what you have to say.
Step 9 - Stand Up For Yourself
It’s time to stop feeling invisible. Develop the inner strength to be more honest with yourself and others by standing up for yourself in a calm, firm and respectful way.
Step 10 - Express Your Emotions
Being cut-off from your emotions or controlling them so tightly you can’t laugh, cry, dream or be angry leads to a lonely, flat, lifeless life. Deep relaxation combined with hypnotic suggestions allow you to be more at ease with yourself and ready to discover a whole new world of feeling.
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