by Mark Sichel, LCSW
Being able to assert yourself at work is essential to success. Asserting yourself means askingfor what you want and need. Assertion is not aggression; it is not a process of demanding, taking, bullying, cajoling, whining, complaining or stepping on others. Self-assertion is about asking for what you want, directly and from a position of strength, without demanding or begging.
Many of us develop different fears around self-assertion. Think back to your childhood: what kind of response did you receive to your needs, requests and assertions? Were there ways in which either or both of your parents tried to stop you from asserting yourself? When you were a child and your mother said you were greedy, needy, or wrong for asking for something, you assumed that she was right. But you're an adult now, and no matter what your mother might have said, it is your inner qualities that remain consistent over time that determine who you are. Remember, neither your negative self-evaluations nor the negative assessment of another person can define you.
Now pick some instances in daily life when you had trouble asserting yourself. Which of the fears listed below did you experience? Take a moment to read through these fears and realize that they all relate to either:
1. Your thoughts and feelings about your self
2. Someone else's thoughts and feelings about you
Check off those fears that you experience when you try to assert yourself. The next time you want to ask for or decline something, review your fears and realize that they are only words, thoughts and feelings, and no matter how scary it is to ask, you will begin to do so.
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