Assertiveness & How to Assert Yourself Authentically
Talking about assertiveness, I come across many Asians having trouble with self-assertion. And we somehow feel abused by aggressive people who may have over-asserted themselves, resulting in intimidating others.
Well, I don’t want to go about different races and cultures. Anyway, it is our culture to be humble and considerate. I think it’s probably rooted in the Buddhist teaching of not building up an oversized ego. However, as time went by, the virtue of the concept became distorted.
People don’t know about the true purpose of humility and consideration anymore. They forget about the purpose of this teaching. Only the idea of modesty, humbleness, and consideration is present in the culture. So, instead of people not being ego-centric, the culture of seniority is in place. And as opposed to the Buddha’s teaching, many people in a higher level of seniority build up their egos and become abusive of their subordinators.
That’s probably why some people are not as assertive as others.
So, the question is: how can we be assertive and also be considerate of others?
Here’s some advice
- Check your intention. Every action starts with a motif, knowingly and unknowingly. So, we need to be aware of our motif. Is it to stand our ground or to intimidate others?
- Check your feeling. How do you feel when you assert yourself in that situation and in that way? Is there any regret, shame, or disturbance in your mind? Check your feeling and be honest.
- Monitor your sensation. What kind of sensation are you experiencing in your body? Is it a rough or a smooth one? Your sensation is your tale-tell. Always be aware of it.
However, sometimes you may receive negative feedback from people in your circle due to your assertiveness. You might want to check the above checklist to see whether you have been authentic and free of a selfish motif.
If your intention was honorable, you feel good about asserting yourself in the situation, and you have pleasant sensations throughout your body, you should give yourself a break.
You can’t make everyone happy while being true to yourself. Sometimes, your authenticity may disturb others. But if it is free of negative motifs, it’s not your problem. Everyone has their wounds. And it’s not your job to heal their wounds.
It’s not healthy to avoid disturbing others’ feelings while suppressing your needs to express them. Be authentic but kind.
Empathize with them but stand your ground too. You can assert yourself with kindness, compassion, and humility. That’s how you allow self-assertiveness and a sense of consideration to co-exist.
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