What is assertiveness? It is
a viewpoint or action in which we express our will. Assertiveness is
based on various concepts:
We have the right to exist.
We have the right to express who we are and what we want,
while accepting the fact that other people have an equal right to
their own existence.
We have self-esteem. Assertiveness and self-esteem cannot
exist without one other. We act assertively only when we believe
that we have a right to express ourselves, and that what we
express is important. And we have self-esteem only when we
confront the demands of life (and people) and recognize that we
have the capability to do so.
is not the same as aggression.
Assertiveness is a neutral (or even benevolent) act, expressed
for the satisfaction of a specific need; it subsides when the need
has been fulfilled. Intuition can prescribe the precise actions
which will satisfy our need without unduly imposing upon other
people; intuition is based on the dynamics of the common
spirit-substance between the two people (i.e., the two souls), so
it does not favor one person's advantage over the other. We have a
right to express ourselves, and so do other people. Intuition
tunes us into the rhythm of life such that we know when to speak
and when to listen. When we in a group of people who are attuned
to this life, we all feel satisfied that we can express ourselves.
Aggression is a distorted expression of assertiveness. When we
are aggressive, we display the following traits:
We seek not only the goal; we also want to discharge the
dysfunctional elements from our archetypal fields. For example,
in a restaurant, we seek not only to have our steak returned to
the kitchen to be cooked more; we also use the opportunity to
discharge the residual anger in what we might call our
"Consumer archetype" (because we were recently outraged at the
person who sold us a faulty appliance). In any aggressive act,
the archetypal-field elements might include:
Thoughts. We might have the following beliefs: We live
in a world which seems to withhold whatever we want, so we
need to be aggressive in order to attain our goals. We don't
trust life to be fair and giving, so we try to develop our
personal power as a weapon with which we can fight for our
goals. We feel inadequate for meeting people on fair terms;
we feel that we must compensate for this inadequacy by
forcing people to give us what we desire.
Energy tones. Those tones can include:
Anger (that we are living in a world which seems to
be hostile and uncaring.)
Envy (that someone has an item which we want).
Fear (that we won't get what we want).
Imagery. Perhaps we have images of ourselves as a fierce
warrior (or conversely, as a loser). Also, we might have
have adopted images of aggression from violent movies or
television programs; those images depicted people who
reached their goals through aggressive acts.
Aggression comes from a position of weakness. We are not
powered by our intuition-guided life-energy; instead, we are
powered by the residual energy of our archetypal elements
(e.g., the lingering anger from other situations in which we
didn't get what we wanted). Sensing that the residual energy is
not sufficient to achieve our goal, we try to bolster it by
releasing emotional energy (e.g., anger), and by trying
to injure and weaken other people through the manipulative use
of our personal power (e.g., our position of authority). In
contrast, intuition-based assertiveness creates a win-win
situation, as spirit (i.e., life) fairly divides the available
resources according to everyone's needs and karmic entitlements
(as determined by the contents of our archetypal fields).
Aggression can become a way of life. We can become "stuck"
in the aggressive mode simply because we are basing our
viewpoints and actions on the relatively static condition of
our dysfunctional elements rather than the constantly changing
guidance of intuition. Aggressive people tend to be aggressive
toward everything; thus, they create a backlash from society --
and from their own psyche (via guilt). This backlash can
convince the aggressors that the world is indeed a battleground
where aggression is necessary; contrarily, it might convince
them that aggression is an inefficient and wasteful approach to
benefits from assertiveness. The benefits include:
We are more likely to get what we want. We increase the
possibility of success because we say what we think and feel and
want, and we take action, and we stand up against people who
unfairly try to stop us.
We avoid unnecessary confrontations. With intuition-based
assertiveness (and a balanced ego), we claim only what is ours;
intuition tells us what to take, and how to take it. Most people
can sense our innocent, non-threatening action as merely the
thrust of life itself. Those people are less likely to confront
us, because they know that we are not trying to hurt them or steal
from them; our motivation is from our love for life, not from
greed, anger, hostility, or other behaviors which would arise from
dysfunctional archetypal-field elements. If the people realize
that we are obeying intuition, they know that we will obey
intuition's reciprocating rhythms; i.e., this is our turn to be
assertive, and to take something -- but in the next moment, we
will bend to permit those people to be assertive and to take what
is theirs. (Even then, we are still being assertive; we are
"assertively" deciding to allow the other person's assertiveness,
and we are assertive in giving what the person is taking.)
We can be more generous and loving. We usually think of
assertiveness as a quasi-aggressive attitude, but we need
assertiveness in order to commit "positive" actions, too:
expressing affection, asking someone for a date, saying a
compliment, offering to help a person, etc.
We avoid the consequences of non-assertiveness. Assertiveness
is a state of balance; at one extreme of the imbalance is
aggression, while at the other extreme is passivity. Passive,
non-assertive "people-pleasers" are likely to encounter many
problems: emotional depression, co-dependent relationships, lack
of success in attaining goals, lack of physical vitality,
resentment and bitterness, over-sensitivity to the problems of
other people at the expense of their own well-being, excessive
dependence on approval from other people, vulnerability to
manipulation, low self-esteem, unwarranted embarrassment and even
shame, fear of people and situations, excessive self-criticism,
the use of "passive aggression" (in which they pretend to be
helpless and defenseless in order to manipulate other people),
for increasing assertiveness. In all of these techniques, we can
use intuition; for example, when we assertively make requests, our
intuition can tell us what to request, and how to request it.
We can explore the techniques of archetypal field-work.
Self-talk. Sample statements: "I have a right to be fully
alive." "I enjoy expressing myself." "When I am assertive, I
can show my love for people." "Assertiveness helps me to get
what I deserve."
Directed imagination. We can visualize scenarios in which
we are expressing ourselves with the appropriateness and warmth
that elicit the support and cooperation of other people.
Energy toning. We can develop the energy tones of courage,
strength, friendliness, exuberance, decisiveness, etc.
The as-if principle. We can act as if we are assertive.
We develop our awareness of intuition. Intuition guides us in
our actions, some of which we might classify as "assertive."
We develop a healthy ego. The archetypal field of a healthy
ego does not contain elements which would cause either aggression
or passivity. The ego's duty is to create our human life, so it
must be assertive, but it recognizes the inefficiency and backlash
which are caused by aggression and passivity.
We express our opinions. What do we think? What do we feel? We
are able to disagree with people, and to give constructive
suggestions. To avoid confrontation, we personalize our opinions:
for example, we say, "I like this song," not "This is a good
song," so that the statement expresses a mere preference rather
than a challenge. We are not intimidated or shamed when our
opinions are contradicted by other people.
We make decisions. Then we take responsibility for those
decisions. And we feel free to change our mind later.
We explore the "friendly" side of assertiveness. Assertiveness
doesn't always wear a serious face; we are also being assertive
when we smile, initiate a handshake, start or close a
conversation, develop a friendship or relationship, express
enthusiasm and happiness, and say "yes."
We make requests. We do this by asking questions, seeking
assistance when we need it, and expressing our needs and desires.
We create limits on our service to others. We don't have to
solve other people's problems. We say "no" when necessary, without
We think for ourselves. We are allowed to have any viewpoint
that we want to have, regardless of the beliefs that have been
given to us by authorities (and the beliefs which we have
previously established for ourselves).
We use assertive body language. For example, we stand tall; we
walk with confidence; we have firm (but non-threatening) eye
contact; we allow ourselves to "have presence."
We speak with a strong tone of voice. We find a balance
between the shy whispering of the non-assertive person, and the
forcefulness of the aggressive person. Instead, our voice is warm,
clear, and decisive.
We engage in activities which allow a relatively free and
harmless exploration of assertiveness and aggression. We can learn
about our ego, pride, self-esteem, and other related issues in
activities such as sports, games, debates, etc. (Contrarily, some
people learn about those issues in destructive activities, e.g.,
warfare, bar-room fights, and gang violence.)