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How can I learn to become more assertive, and learn to stand up for myself?


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Old 28th July 2014, 2:26 PM   #1
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How can I learn to become more assertive, and learn to stand up for myself?

I've had some destructive relationships in my life, and I've realized that I believe it's because I don't really stand up for myself. I think I'm a pushover. People would do me wrong and either I would say "it's okay" when it's really not, or I'll just avoid talking to them for a few days and then come back and talk to them (not about the issue though).
I believe I've learned this behavior from my mom... she would always get mad at my dad about certain stuff and complain to me about it, but once my dad comes around she's mute and acts like everything is okay. Also growing up, whenever my mom or dad was mad at me, my mom would stop talking to me for a few days, and my dad used to stop giving me breakfast in the morning before school. I personally hate conflict and I hate confronting people, I feel a lot of anxiety whenever I do. I also fear rejection, so that may be another reason.
I don't want to be this way anymore.... I want to be able to confront people without also putting myself down in the process (let's say someone stole my pencil... I'd ask them about it, but say it's my fault for leaving the pencil out in the open, you know), to tell my future boyfriend when certain things he does bothers me, to toughen up, etc. What should I do? Is it a confidence thing? A self-esteem thing? Also, does hypnosis work for this? I see plenty of videos on Youtube, so I was just wondering.
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Old 28th July 2014, 3:15 PM   #2
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I was shy and introverted and didn't stand up for my self for many years until recently. I blame this on the fact that my parents were abusive and a lot of times, abused children do not have the courage to stand up for themselves or think they deserve to be treated better. Take small steps. If your mom is being passive-aggressive with you, say "Mom, I noticed you have been acting strange around me lately, can we sit down and discuss it?" If you don't learn to speak up now, people will take all kinds of advantage of you. Just learn to say "no" when you feel uncomfortable about something. I highly recommend reading "When I Say No, I Feel Guilty". It's a great read and discusses MANY methods and scenarios that require you to assert yourself. You can find it on Amazon or eBay. It really helped me.
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Old 28th July 2014, 3:53 PM   #3
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Thank you, I'll check it out.
The problem is, it's not that I have a problem saying no. It's when I have to stand up for myself, or speak out about a problem that's bothering me. I also have a hard time rejecting others, so sometimes guys would think that I'm just leading them on (when I'm not).
And lately whenever my mom gets mad at my dad, i always ask her why doesn't she tell dad, and she says that she will but doesn't/ends up asking me to talk to him. So I notice the behavior and the patterns, I just want to change myself.
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Old 28th July 2014, 3:58 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by angelsface200 View Post
Thank you, I'll check it out.
The problem is, it's not that I have a problem saying no. It's when I have to stand up for myself, or speak out about a problem that's bothering me. I also have a hard time rejecting others, so sometimes guys would think that I'm just leading them on (when I'm not).
And lately whenever my mom gets mad at my dad, i always ask her why doesn't she tell dad, and she says that she will but doesn't/ends up asking me to talk to him. So I notice the behavior and the patterns, I just want to change myself.
Saying no and assertiveness often goes hand in hand, because as you mentioned, you don't want to face the rejection. In this case, the "no" scenario would be telling your mom that you don't appreciate being put in the middle of the situation between her and your father and that the issues between her and your dad are her business and responsibility to resolve. You are basically telling her "no" that you will not get involved in her and your dad's issues. It does take time to really start getting comfortable with this process, but the more you assert yourself, the more comfortable about it you will feel.
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Old 28th July 2014, 5:01 PM   #5
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I agree wholeheartedly with Pink Sugar. Saying no does build your confidence and teaches you to be more assertive. She's right!

I used to work with little kids for a long time and before that, worked in retail so I got so accustomed to "I'll fix that" and "what can I do for you?" and "sure, we can do that", having this big dopey smile on my face all day.

Now, I own my own business and deal with strictly adults but not just adults, some harsher types like owners of trucking companies and bikers. Basically, the opposite world of what I was used to! I needed to become very assertive and I was having a hard time at first.

I developed a strange little exercise for myself that helped immensely: I would wait, for instance, at a restaurant for the waiter/waitress to ask me if I wanted a refill on my drink and even if I did, I'd say no. I want ________ instead and I would just pick something else I like to drink. Any situation I could find to say no in, I did just that. It works!

I'm glad you have one of your feet in the right direction and can say no already but you have to practice this daily any opportunity you get to build up your confidence so you know, nope, the world won't explode or fall apart if you assert yourself.

You have to create something very similar to muscle memory but in your brain. Teach it by repetition that there are no bad consequences to being assertive.
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Old 29th July 2014, 1:03 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by LuckyLady13 View Post
I agree wholeheartedly with Pink Sugar. Saying no does build your confidence and teaches you to be more assertive. She's right!

I used to work with little kids for a long time and before that, worked in retail so I got so accustomed to "I'll fix that" and "what can I do for you?" and "sure, we can do that", having this big dopey smile on my face all day.

Now, I own my own business and deal with strictly adults but not just adults, some harsher types like owners of trucking companies and bikers. Basically, the opposite world of what I was used to! I needed to become very assertive and I was having a hard time at first.

I developed a strange little exercise for myself that helped immensely: I would wait, for instance, at a restaurant for the waiter/waitress to ask me if I wanted a refill on my drink and even if I did, I'd say no. I want ________ instead and I would just pick something else I like to drink. Any situation I could find to say no in, I did just that. It works!

I'm glad you have one of your feet in the right direction and can say no already but you have to practice this daily any opportunity you get to build up your confidence so you know, nope, the world won't explode or fall apart if you assert yourself.

You have to create something very similar to muscle memory but in your brain. Teach it by repetition that there are no bad consequences to being assertive.
I agree! Before getting my first job in retail, I was really really shy and introverted. After several years of seeing the worst of society, you start becoming immune to it. Customers yelling at you for any and every reason and ones who talked down to you because they felt you were beneath them. It really desensitized me.
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Old 29th July 2014, 1:56 PM   #7
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The only way to learn assertiveness, is by practicing it.

If you are not used to it, it is uncomfortable (And can still be uncomfortable in certain contexts when you are used to it).

Chances are good that your upbringing did have a role in shaping your attitudes towards assertiveness, yes. But, you're no longer a minor (I don't think?!) living your parents. You are an adult now and hard as it is, it is fully possible to do something about the negative things picked up in ones upbringing.

Forget the YT videos, get out there and just start practicing.
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Old 29th July 2014, 7:17 PM   #8
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Thanks everyone for the advice! It's funny because I had started my first retail job last year, and I think that had helped me immensely. That was when I had started to get constructive criticism from someone outside of my family. I switched to another job where we had to do the same, the motto being "customers are always right!" (No they're not haha) which became annoying. I think I have problems asserting myself when it comes to my peers. I'm 20 so I'm not a minor and I'm almost a full on adult, so I need to prepare before I enter the corporate world. But I'll take everyone's advice and start saying "no" more and at least try to stand up for myself. Thank you!
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Old 30th July 2014, 10:06 AM   #9
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Plenty depends on how you are wired

not everyone can be a drill instructor - or a boss

now as for being a push over - 1st step is question the person that ("stole your pencil" ) - ask the why question more?

It helps and puts you in a better thought process

keep your head up and go from the push over to the smart one always looking for the correct answer -- good luck
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