We all want to be liked – it’s a great feeling. The trouble is that some of us will do anything to get people’s approval. We’ll do whatever our friends ask, whatever our parents, teachers and bosses demand, and we never speak up when we disagree with something.
Then, because we rarely get to do what we really want, we begin to feel frustrated, resentful and angry. We start to think that life is unfair, that we are missing out and we hate the world and everyone in it. This path is not a good one as it can lead to deep unhappiness and depression.
Although we worry that if we stand up for ourselves, no one will like us, the truth is that people like assertive people and respect them. And we can all learn how to be more assertive.
It’s okay to be assertive
Some people worry that being assertive means being pushy, rude or aggressive. It’s nothing like that. It’s simply being clear about what you want. Assertiveness means:
- Expressing your own opinion and feelings
- Saying ‘no’ without feeling guilty
- Setting your own priorities i.e. choosing how you spend your time
- Asking for what you need
- Feeling confident enough to take reasonable risks
You are a valuable human being
- Your thoughts, feelings, needs and desires are just as important as everyone else’s.
- The people who care about you are interested in what you really think.
- You deserve to be treated with respect and to treat others with respect.
What can you do?
• Practise saying ‘no’ in front of a mirror. Say it clearly and evenly – not in an aggressive tone, or in a timid, questioning tone. After you’ve got used to saying it, try it in a real situation where the stakes are not too high (for example, when someone asks you a favour, or when you and your friends are deciding which movie to see on the weekend).
• When people ask you for your opinion, tell them what you think without apologising.
• When someone compliments you, say ‘Thank you’. Don’t put yourself down.
Right now you are probably unhappy about the way things are. You might even be depressed. If you think this might be the case, read some of the articles about depression on this website, or speak to your doctor.