The Art of Assertiveness

Last week over a breakfast meal of French toast, fresh cut fruit and grits the topic of  assertiveness came up. It came up again at a recent nursing conference I spoke at in Cleveland. In simple terms, there are three kinds of behavior: passive, assertive and aggressive; Depending on the activity, we can do all three in the course of a day, though one style does tend to influence our personality and behavior. Example: people can have passive behavior with their dietary habits, yet have an aggressive behavior with their driving habits. With a passive behavior mindset, people tend to get walked over by others (who are being aggressive, or at the least, taking advantage of someone else’s perceived weaknesses). People who act aggressively toward others can do so in subtle ways including sarcasm, pessimism, peer pressure and the infamous passive-aggressive style. Aggressive behavior is motivated by anger (and sometimes fear). Passive behavior is motivated by fear as well, and usually both of these behavior styles are displayed unconsciously. The ideal way (a conscious choice) is the middle road, the assertive path, where you diplomatically achieve what is rightfully yours while ensuring that others receive what is rightfully theirs.  To be assertive is to walk in balance. Honoring others as you would honor yourself.
Stress Tip for the Day:
What is your predominant behavior style? Do you feel victimized? If so, you might be leaning toward the passive side. Are you often pissed-off, frustrated, angry, manipulative, passive-aggressive or easily peeved? If so, your dominant style might be that of the aggressive style. In striving to find the middle ground, practice using the skills of diplomacy when talking to others with regard to personal requests. Feel no remorse or regret with your choices. See yourself as worthy of what you want, but no better or worse than anyone else. Walking the assertive path is one of humble confidence. So, keep your chin up today, but lower your eyes to those less fortunate than you. Smile at those who come across as aggressive, for they have yet to make peace with their anger. Walk the middle path of inner peace.
Links, Books and Movies Worth Noting:
The following link offers some insights to the bill of rights for assertiveness. Take a look and try to adopt a few of these.
And Melody Beattie’s classic book, Co-Dependent No More is the hallmark book of moving from passive to assertive behavior.
Quote for the Day:
“ Never retreat. Never explain. Get it done and then let them howl.” —Benjamin Jowet
Photo for the Day:
A photo of a tourist walking on Inch Beach near the Dingle Peninsula of Ireland. Enjoy!
Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D. is an internationally renowned expert in the fields of stress management, mind-body-spirit healing and stress and human spirituality. He is the author of over 12 books including the bestsellers, Stand Like Mountain, Flow Like Water, Stressed Is Desserts Spelled Backward, The Art of Calm, Quiet Mind, Fearless Heart and Managing Stress (7e)and the newly released, A Beautiful World: The Earth Song Journals. He can be reached through his website:
© Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D.
Brian Luke Seaward

Author Brian Luke Seaward

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