‘Man is born to live and not to prepare to live’ – Boris Pasternak
The underlying philosophy of assertiveness training is based on the principle that we are all equal and that we all possess the same basic rights.
The goal of assertiveness is to stand up for your rights without violating the rights of others.
Many people seem to have forgotten, or have never been told that these rights exist and so a good starting point is to remind yourself of some of these basic rights.
I have the right to express my feelings.
- It is important to recognize and identify what you feel
- It is important to accept and not deny what you feel
- It is important to express the negative and positive feelings rather than hold back
I have the right to express my opinions and beliefs.
- You have the right to your opinions and beliefs
- Have a right not to be bullied into justifying an opinion
- Not a question of right or wrong – but of differences in perception.
I have a right to say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ for myself.
- Important to make a choice for yourself because you want to or do not want to do something.
I have a right to change my mind.
- This right is invaluable in learning to make assertive choices – choices that reflect what you want, rather than what you think is expected of you.
- A wrong decision brings regret – better to assertively change your mind than to continue with something you are unhappy with.
I have the right to say, ‘I don’t understand’.
- As adults we do feel an undue amount of shame in acknowledging lack of comprehension – but we can hardly expect to know everything about everything.
- With this right in mind – you can learn to ask for more information or a repeated explanation without feeling ridiculous.
I have the right to simply be myself without having to act for other people’s benefit.
- This right is about the importance of being yourself – attending to your needs and wants.
I have the right to decline responsibility for other people’s problems.
- Under pressure we give in to all sorts of demands which force us to accommodate the needs of others.
- Therefore this right involves setting our own limits about who to care for and whose needs to put before our own.
- Deciding where to draw the line is what is important.
I have the right to make a reasonable request of others.
- We settle for things we do not want, for something that is not quite right because we do not feel we have the right to persist/make a request eg when a taxi driver is driving too fast, etc.
I have the right to set my own priorities.
- It can be difficult when you have other roles and responsibilities to fulfil eg roles as a parent – however does not imply that you no longer honour the responsibilities within this role – but that your needs exist as well as those you care for.
- Important to make time for yourself.
I have the right to be listened to and taken seriously, (to be treated with respect).
- Need treat ourselves with respect.
- For example, easy to feel confused in a situation where we feel disadvantaged by lack of expertise – eg However when we know our brakes aren’t working – important to hold on to that fact.
I have the right to make mistakes and feel comfortable about admitting to them.
- Many of us this right difficult – possibly comes from our experience of being punished for mistakes as a child – at home or at school – good marks/bad marks, etc.
- Important to see that you can do something stupid without it implying that you are stupid or unintelligent.
- This right can permit us to acknowledge the mistake without losing the central core of self-belief.
I have the right to be illogical in making decisions.
- Sometimes we feel that we do or don’t want to do something, but can’t explain why – eg when the insurance salesman is pushing to sell a policy.
- Have a right to our process in decision making.
I have the right to say, ‘I don’t care’.
- The need for approval is an important factor in unassertive behaviour and is often buried very deep in most of us eg appropriate behaviour is rewarded with ‘That’s a good boy’ etc.
- The more effectively you can silence or reduce your internal critic – the more effectively you can unhook your dependence on the opinion of others.
I have the right to be miserable or cheerful.
- Again attending to our own needs and wants.