If you feel guilty saying ‘no’ to unreasonable requests or shy away from expressing your needs and opinions; if you find yourself passively going along with the crowd instead of doing what you want; or if you find yourself exploding angrily after long periods of holding your tongue, then you might be struggling with assertiveness.
Being assertive means communicating your needs, thoughts and opinions in ways that are respectful and preserve the relationship between yourself and the other person. It means really being with another person, listening and connecting with them, and taking the chance to expose more of your true self. Many people never learn to assert themselves and struggle with the consequences of resentment and feeling unappreciated and misunderstood. Not realizing that unassertiveness is the result of our own habits of mistaken thinking we often blame others for our discomfort and fears, weakening relationships and increasing the likelihood of destructive conflicts.
Randy Paterson’s The Assertiveness Workbook is a useful resource to help readers develop the tools and skills necessary to begin communicating more effectively and more honestly. It explains the differences between aggressive, passive, passive-aggressive and assertive forms of communication and offers a variety of exercises to build confidence through regular practice. Coming from a cognitive behavioural perspective, Paterson discusses how thoughts, feelings and behavioural habits all contribute to the ineffective strategies of hiding from and dominating others that people who are unassertive typically rely on. He teaches readers to recognize faulty beliefs that tell us we are inadequate or unworthy of other people’s attention, and structures behavioural experiments to begin changing such ideas through positive practice. He also provides detailed information about how to turn disruptive conflicts with others into constructive experiences that build and strengthen relationships.
The psychologists at Shift Cognitive Therapy regularly work with people who struggle to express themselves and may recommend this book to you as a part of your treatment.
Shift Cognitive Therapy Oakville is a psychology practice with a focus on change.