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Assertiveness

 Jump to the following topics:

  1. What is assertiveness?
  2. Assertiveness is not the same as aggression.
  3. We gain benefits from assertiveness.
  4. Techniques for increasing assertiveness.


What is assertiveness? It is a viewpoint or action in which we express our will. Assertiveness is based on various concepts:

  1. We have the right to exist.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.


Assertiveness is not the same as aggression.

  1. 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.
  2. 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 problems.


We gain benefits from assertiveness. The benefits include:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.)
  3. 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.
  4. 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), etc.


Techniques 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.

  1. 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.
  2. We develop our awareness of intuition. Intuition guides us in our actions, some of which we might classify as "assertive."
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. We make decisions. Then we take responsibility for those decisions. And we feel free to change our mind later.
  6. 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."
  7. We make requests. We do this by asking questions, seeking assistance when we need it, and expressing our needs and desires.
  8. We create limits on our service to others. We don't have to solve other people's problems. We say "no" when necessary, without feeling guilty.
  9. 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).
  10. 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."
  11. 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.
  12. 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.)


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