Have you ever heard yourself say, “I’m a nice person. I’m a polite person. I’d never intentionally do anything to hurt anybody. So why don’t other people give me the respect I deserve?” The problem could well be due to difficulty with assertion. Maybe you aren’t showing your nice, polite, and respectful qualities to other people. Unless they can see who you truly are, underneath it all, other people might not know how you expect to be treated. And this can lead to some unhappy experiences.
At the heart of assertion (also known as assertiveness) is your ability to know who you are and what you stand for – and then to express these qualities effectively in everyday interactions with other people. Expressing yourself effectively involves maintaining respect for the rights and feelings of others. Assertion is not aggression. People who are assertive know that they can deal with the world much more effectively if they do not resort to violence or other aggressive responses. In many ways, assertiveness is the exact opposite of aggression – assertion enhances constructive communication and cooperation between people, while aggression shuts it down. And assertion is not manipulation. Most people are aware, at some level, when they are being manipulated – which can lead to distrust and a lack of respect, for both parties. Manipulation involves hiding behind a mask. Assertion means tearing off the mask and happily announcing to the world who you truly are. Assertion is reality-tested freedom.
Manipulation involves hiding behind a mask.
Assertion means tearing off the mask and happily announcing to the world who you truly are.
Dr. Baya Mebarek, Psy.D., LMFT
San Diego Couples and Family Therapy serves the surrounding areas of Sorrento Valley Road as La Jolla, UTC San Diego, Del Mar, Rancho Santa Fe, Rancho Bernardo, Rancho Penasquitos, Poway, University City and Escondido.