BLAFROKAN - Many Tribes, One Blood

Am I Stifling My Progress

Most articles begin by defining their terms.  In my case that would be Assertiveness Training – What is it?  Assertiveness training gives us the ability to make ourselves known, to make our desires and needs known, and to accept responsibility for the consquences of being known. People oftentimes find “assertiveness” to be fairly frightening. When we see others assert themselves we can feel terrified for them, and terrified by them.  We worry over the consequences of being heard, or for having a point of view. While many think ourselves sufficiently assertive e.g., (to order food in a restaurant), we can become quite coy (sheepish, sly, elusive) when it comes to sharing our feelings and views on personal or sensitive topics, with family members, friends and coworkers, or making our desires known to lovers, we resort to little lies which we hope will keep the peace. We can satisfactorily return a meal that is not cooked to perfection and perhaps even dismiss a salesperson who is annoying us.  But in our personal relationships we fall flat on our faces when it comes to being straight forward, forthright, and civil, when we are dissatisfied and must confront a situation or a developing pattern of dis-respect.  

Here are some situations that test our assertiveness:

  • Dealing with The over-bearing, under-paying boss who bullies his/her employees; or the slothful but charismatic employee who can’t seem to complete a task.
  • Then there is the lover who can’t seem to commit or be loyal;
  • The guilt-riding mother who won’t let her children become independent;
  • The put-down weilding relatives who don’t help you build but always want favors from you.  

These are common/everyday situations in which your assertiveness can mean the difference between a peaceful state of mind and outrage; between a civil come-to-truth conversation and a brawling argument that you later regret.   

The task of becoming more assertive may be as simple as learning to to listen to the little voice, inside all of us. Some of us have that little voice over-ridden by our much louder voice of self-doubt.  Self-confidence is something we are born with, and most of us have it drummed out of us when we are small children, by parents, teachers, pastors etc, all seeking to “protect us” from ourselves, unwittingly destroying our ability to trust our own guts.  So, the first task in learning to develop healthy assertive behaviors, 

learn to listen for that inner voice and recognize that we must heed that little voice, if you hope to succeed.  

Most of us recognize that little-voice coming from the “gut”.  If you think about it, you can probably remember that little-voice spoke up just before you entered into that doomed relationship, and before you took that job with a tyrant-boss, or bought something, that car that turned out to be a lemon.   Most times, the difference between peace and regret is ignoring that little voice.

What has that little voice got to do with Assertiveness?  A lot. The little voice that speaks to you from your gut, is actually the voice of knowing.  Those who learn to hear the little voice and listen to it, are much more confident.  Confidence is the core of assertiveness.  That’s right, the little voice knows.  It is the part of each of us, that is still connected to the Great ALL, the universe, that which has seen and done it all.   It knows all your weaknesses and wishes and needs and how you fall for that trick over and over again, it knows you, because it IS you.  So next time you have to make an important decision, or any decision, wait for that little voice to download on your consciousness.  The little voice does not fail.

A guided 10 minute African mediation.

Carol Cummings, Ph.D.

Carol Cummings, Ph.D.

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