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How to Be Assertive Without Being Too Aggressive

How to Be Assertive Without Being Too Aggressive

Have you ever been in a situation where you are in a group whose opinions are not aligned with yours? What did you do? Did you keep quiet or did you express your opinions just as they express themselves?

Assertiveness is a skill of those people who can express themselves straightforwardly, without stepping on the rights of others. However, not everyone knows the importance of assertiveness for both personal and professional lives. Some people find it difficult to be assertive. But what most of us don’t know is that assertiveness is not a unique trait a person can possess that others don’t have. It is actually a skill which we can learn.

Why Do Some People Find It Hard To Be Assertive

To be assertive requires three points of the triangle; the passive, aggressive and assertive . You need to find the right mix of these three important points to be assertive.

The Passive

When we were kids, adults always taught us to be kind and friendly to other kids. Most of us have adapted this teaching to a point where we oftentimes become hesitant to express our opinions and thoughts. We believe that it is not nice to argue and disagree with others.

We develop a passive behavior because we are programmed to believe that those who goes out of the norm and are not afraid to say what they want to say are rude, disrespectful and are often rejected. But what you don’t know is that by being passive no one else gets upset but you. We are stepping into our own rights and it can negatively impact our self-confidence.

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The Aggressive

Completely opposite to being passive, aggressive people tend to fail in considering other people’s rights and feelings. They are not aware that by expressing their opinions, they have undermined the self-esteem and the rights of others.

Aggressive behaviors come in so many ways. By simply demanding someone rather than asking, rushing them or ignoring them, we are encouraging them to be passive while we become aggressive.

The Assertive

Assertiveness is finding the right balance between being passive and being aggressive. It is a two-way communication where we can convey our message and listen to others as well. It encourages an exchange of views so the rights of both parties are exercised and opinions and feelings are expressed appropriately. It means sharing, appreciating others and seeing them as an equal.

It can be a struggle finding the right balance. Our current roles, past experiences, how we view ourselves, the stress we experience and our incorrect assumption that these traits are by nature affect our responses and our communication with others. But if we become self-aware and we open our minds, we will realize how important it is to learn how to be assertive.

How Can Being Assertive Help Our Professional And Personal Lives?

As mentioned earlier, assertiveness can provide significant growth both in our professional and personal lives. Forbes reported [1]that leaders who are assertive are perceived to have higher integrity than those who are not. Also, it is vital for an organization to have a team of assertive individuals that promote cooperation, support, unity, training and developments . This is to successfully establish an effective project management process which is essential for project success.

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When it comes to our personal development, assertiveness sure helps a lot. Here are some of them.

Provide Yourself More Value. Assertiveness increases self-confidence and improves self-image. You develop the awareness that you have are not only entitled to your own opinions, but you have the right to express them. Also, you adopt a more realistic view of yourself.

You Learn To Value Others. Rather than seeing other people as a threat, an assertive behavior allows you to see them in a realistic context. You understand the individualities of a person and you see them as collaborators which can help you achieve things.

Gives You An Opportunity To Achieve More. When you convey your message appropriately and clearly, you never have to worry about unresolved issues or not being able to please other people. You can channel your effort and time for more worthy things which can help you unleash your full potential.

Overall, one major benefit of being assertive is that it allows us to h ave a healthy relationship with other people while improving ourselves. It may not be easy, but over time, we can learn to develop this behavior.

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So, What Does It Takes To Be Assertive?

Each person has different ways of developing assertiveness in them. For others, it can be pretty easy, while for some it may require them a lot of efforts to be assertive. But here are some tips we can work on to develop our assertiveness.

Know Your Value As A Person

Never allow other people to let you feel less important as them. Don’t allow them to make you feel inferior. Understand that your opinions, thoughts, feelings and your right to express them are as valuable as others.

We have a full control of ourselves. Some people may treat us poorly because they can see us doing that on our own selves. That gives them permission to treat us the way they do. Our confidence, energy and our attitude convey a message to people. These trigger their actions towards us.

If they see us as someone who has high regard of ourselves and someone who knows how to protect our rights and dignity, they will treat us as such as well. So it all starts with ourselves. When we know our value as a person, people will start to see us as their equal.

Identify Your Needs And Wants And Address Them

If you wait for people to address and satisfy your needs, you might wait for forever. Be independent. You need to put yourself in action to satisfy your own needs and wants. Moreover, when you learn to work towards satisfying your needs, you are more likely to reach your true potential and you become self-fulfilled. Thus, you boost your self-confidence and self-esteem.

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However, in your desire to achieve your goals, do not forget that there are limitations. Do not be over-fixated with your dreams that you ignore and undermine other people’s rights. They too have to work for their own desires so make sure you don’t sacrifice other people’s needs to achieve yours.

Acknowledge The Fact That You Have No Control Of People’s Response

As the cliché saying goes, “you can’t please everyone”. You are not responsible for other people’s response towards your actions. So stop fretting about upsetting them because of your assertive behavior.

We are only responsible for our actions. We should not concede to their wants and needs for as long as we are not violating their rights and feelings. If they don’t like how we assert our own views and opinions, it is not our responsibility.

Express And Accept Criticisms In An Appropriate Manner

We have an imperfect life and that is why we give criticisms to others and receive criticisms as well. It is important that we should learn how to express negative thoughts to others in a way that we don’t violate their rights. Point mistakes and opinions, but express it in a way that it will be useful for the improvement and development of that certain person.

Likewise, when we receive criticisms, we should not take it personally. It’s okay to be upset or angry for a moment, but we should never lose our respect for the person. Instead, let’s view criticisms as a useful feedback which we can use for our personal or professional growth.

Say “No” When You Feel It’s Not Right For You

We always have to go for what’s right for us. We can’t just go with other people’s demand, especially if it is not aligned with our principles. If we do, we are losing our self-worth. We should always remember that it’s okay not no please everyone for as long as we are not stepping on their rights. But, if there is really a need to do things which are beyond our capabilities, we can learn to find other alternatives to meet halfway and provide a win-win solution.

Learning how to be assertive is not as complicated as we think. It may take some time to master assertiveness, but with constant practice, we can slowly make a transition. So give it a try and who knows, sooner or later, you will enjoy the long-term benefits of being assertive.

Reference

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Published on July 13, 2018

Striving Towards Secure Attachment: How to Restructure Your Thoughts

Striving Towards Secure Attachment: How to Restructure Your Thoughts

What if you could discover some tools and methods that could improve your relationships? What if by gaining a little knowledge you could understand your relationship dynamics better and give them a boost up?

By learning what secure attachment is and how to restructure your thoughts, you can become more self-aware of your relationship dynamics. After becoming more aware, you can then take a few steps to make them better than ever. That’s something that many of us could benefit from.

When we hear the term secure attachment, our mind typically goes to a relationship. And that’s exactly what it’s about.

In this article I’ll discuss the concept of secure attachments in more detail and how restructuring your thoughts can help you strive towards achieving better relationships.

Relationships are a hugely important part of our lives and whatever we can do to improve them is a good thing for everyone involved.

What is attachment theory?

Let’s do a quick overview of what attachment theory is. This will provide a good foundation for the rest of this article.

The esteemed psychologist John Bowlby first coined the term attachment theory in the late 60’s. Bowlby studied early childhood conditioning extensively and what he found was very interesting.

His research showed that when a very young child has a strong attachment to a caregiver, it provides the child with a sense of security and foundation. On the other hand when there isn’t a secure attachment, the child will expend a lot more developmental energy looking for security and stability.

The child without the secure attachment tends to become more fearful, timid and slow to explore new situations or their environment.

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When a strong attachment is developed in a child, he or she will be inclined to be more adventurous and seek out new experiences because they feel more secure. They know that whoever is watching out for them will be there if needed.

Bowlby’s colleague, Mary Ainsworth, took the theory further. She did extensive studies around infant-parent separations and provided a more formal framework for the differing attachment styles.

How attachment develops

Simply put, attachment is an emotional bond with another person. Attachment doesn’t have to go both ways, it can be one person feeling attached to another without it being reciprocated. Most of the time, it works between two people to one degree or another.

Attachment begins at a very young age. Over the history of time, when children were able to maintain a closer proximity to a caregiver that provided for them, a strong attachment was formed.

The initial thought was that the ability to provide food or nourishment to a child was the primary driver of a strong attachment.

It was then discovered that the primary drivers of attachment proved to be the parent/caregivers responsiveness to the child as well as the ability to nurture that child in a variety of ways. Things such as support, care, sustenance, and protection are all components of nurturing a child.

In essence a child forms a strong attachment when they feel that their caregiver is accessible and attentive and there if they need them; that the parent/caregiver will be there for them. If the child does not feel that the caregiver is there to help them when needed, they experience anxiety.

Different types of attachments

In children, 4 types of attachment styles have been identified. They are as follows:

  • Secure attachment – This is primarily marked by discomfort or distress when separated from caregivers and joy and security when the caregiver is back around the child. Even though the child initially feels agitated when the caregiver is no longer around, they feel confident they will return. The return of the parent or caregiver is met with positive emotions, the child prefers parents to strangers.
  • Ambivalent attachment – These children become very distressed when the parent or caregiver leaves. They feel they can’t rely on their caregiver for support when the need arises. Even though a child with ambivalent attachment may be agitated or confused when reunited with a parent or caregiver, they will cling to them.
  • Avoidant attachment – These kids typically avoid parents or caregivers. When they have a choice of being with the parent or not, they don’t seem to care one way or the other. Research has shown that this may be the result of neglectful caregivers.
  • Disorganized attachment – These children display a mix of disoriented behavior towards their caregiver. They may want them sometimes and other times they don’t. This is sometimes thought to be linked to inconsistent behavior from the parent or caregiver.

What attachments mean to adults

So the big question is how does this affect us in adulthood? Intuitively it makes sense that as a child, if we have someone who will be there when we need them, we feel secure. And on the other end of the spectrum, if we aren’t sure someone’s going to provide what we need when we need it, we may become more anxious and fearful.

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As an adult, we tend to wind up in one of three primary attachment types based on our childhood experiences. These are secure, avoidant, and anxious. Technically, there is a fourth one, anxious-avoidant, but it is quite a bit less common. They are described as follows:

  • Secure – When you have a secure attachment, you are comfortable displaying interest and affection towards another person but you’re also fine being alone and independent. Secure types are less apt to obsess over a relationship gone sour and handle being rejected easier. Secure types also tend to be better than other types with not starting relationships with people that might not be the best partners. They cut off the relationship quicker when they see things in a potential partner they don’t like. Secure attachment people make up the majority of the attachment types.
  • Anxious – Folks who have an anxious attachment style typically need a lot of reassurance from their partners. They have a much harder time being on their own and single than the other styles and fall into bad relationships more often. The anxious style represent about 20% of the population. It’s been shown that if anxious attachment styles learn how to communicate their needs better and learn to date secure partners, they can move towards the secure attachment style.
  • Avoidant – Avoidant attachment style represents approximately 25% of the population as adults. Avoidants many times have the hardest time in a relationship because they have a difficult time finding satisfaction. In general, they are uncomfortable with close relationships and intimacy and are quite independent. They are the lone wolf type person.
  • Anxious-avoidant – The anxious-avoidant style is relatively rare. It is composed of conflicting styles – they want to be close but at the same time push people away. They do things that push the people they are closest to away. Many times there can be a higher risk of depression or other mental health issues.

Here’s where it gets really interesting:

Move towards secure attachment

The good news is that it is possible to move from one style to another. Specifically, it is possible to move towards a more secure attachment style.

Now as you might imagine, this is not an easy or a quick process. Like any type of big change where you are attempting to alter such a deeply ingrained mindset, it takes a strong will to accomplish.

The first step is developing an awareness of your attachment style. The next step is to have the desire and drive to move your attachment style towards the more secure style.

If someone with an anxious or avoidant style has a long term relationship with a secure type, the anxious or avoidant person can slowly get brought up more towards a secure style.

The opposite is also true, they could bring the secure person more towards their attachment style. Therefore, you have to be conscious of your type and if you want to move more towards secure, it takes persistence.

Therapy is an option as well. Anxious types many times need to work on their self-esteem, avoidants on their connection specifically and compassion.

How to restructure your thoughts

Ready for the way to do it? Here we go:

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For the Avoidant Style

As with any type of change on such a deep level, the first step is awareness. Realize you have an avoidant style and be aware of it as you have interactions with your partner(s).

Try to work towards a place of mutual support and giving/taking. Try to lessen your need for complete self-reliance. Allow your partner to do some things that make you a little uncomfortable that you would normally do yourself.

Don’t always focus on the imperfections of your partner. We all have them, remind yourself of that.

Make yourself a list of the qualities that your partner has that you are thankful for.

Look for a secure style partner if at all possible, they would be good for you to be with.

If you have a tendency to end relationships before they go too far, be aware of that and let it develop further.

Get into the habit of accepting and even instigating physical touch. Tell yourself that it’s good for you to have some intimacy. Intimacy can help you feel safe and secure.

And over time you can realize that it’s okay to rely on other people.

For the Anxious Style

For the anxious style, the #1 thing to work on is learning to communicate needs better. This is a huge issue for the anxious style.

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First and foremost if you communicate your needs more clearly, you will have less anxiety, that’s already a big win. This will also allow you to better assess if a potential partner is good for you.

Try to bring your feelings more to the surface and most importantly, share them with your partner. Remember that secure attachments typically communicate pretty well, this is what you are working towards.

For the Anxious-Avoidant Style

The anxious-avoidant is a very small percentage of the attachment styles. Since this type tends to be anxious in the relationship AND more or less a loner, the key here is working hard to be very self-aware of your actions.

Use the parts of striving towards secure attachment from the anxious tips and the avoidant restructuring of your thoughts to consciously work towards being more secure.

When you find yourself pushing someone away, ask why. If you feel worried that your partner is going to leave you, again, ask yourself where this is coming from. Have they shown you any reason to believe this? Many times there is no real evidence. In that case, allow yourself to calm down and try not to obsess over it.

For the Secure Style

Since the goal is to move towards a more secure attachment style, there isn’t much needed here as you might imagine.

Something to be aware of is being in a relationship just because it’s “okay”. Don’t stay if it’s not a good place for you and your partner. If your partner is of an anxious or avoidant attachment style, stay mindful to not start developing characteristics of those styles.

Strive towards Secure Attachment

As we wrap things up, you’ve probably developed a good idea of the benefits of secure attachment. If you don’t currently have a secure attachment style, here are some benefits of restructuring your thoughts more towards this style:

  • Positive self esteem and self image
  • Close and well adjusted relationships
  • Sense of security in self and the world
  • Ability to be independent as well as in relationships
  • Optimistic outlook on life and yourself
  • Strong coping skills and strategies for relationships and life
  • Trust in self and others
  • Close, intimate relationships
  • Strong determination and problem solving skills

If you are an anxious or avoidant style or the combination of anxious-avoidant, it is possible to move towards a secure attachment style.

It takes self-awareness, patience and a strong desire to get close to being secure but it can be done. You will find that putting the effort into it will provide you with more open, honest and satisfying relationships.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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