"Being assertive means being positive and confident. You are aware that you are a worthy person with your own special gifts You know what you stand for and what you won't stand for. You expect respect. You ask for what you want and need."
-From the Virtues Project cards, with permission from The Virtues Project™
"If you are traveling with small children or others who need help, put YOUR oxygen mask on FIRST, then help others with their mask."
I often think of this phrase spoken by flight attendants in their talk about safety and oxygen masks as an analogy for Assertiveness.
Being assertive is like breathing; it's hard to do if you put someone else's oxygen mask on first. We need to take care of our own needs if we are to take care of others. How many parents do you know who never do anything for themselves, everything is done for their children. But then the point comes when they are exhausted, sick or depressed, never taking the time to fill themselves up, to find something they love to do, to say: "No, I can't do that now." "No, I am busy, I can't talk on the phone now." "No, we are going to stay home tonight; I need to rest." "No, I can't make dinner tonight, someone else will need to do that." "No, you'll need to walk or ride your bike to the store; I am reading my book now." "Yes, I am taking time for myself, and I am setting a good example for my children." "Yes, I am a responsible employee; I cannot work on Saturday. I will finish that project on Monday."
Setting clear boundaries for ourselves, with our family members or in our workplace, let others know that we value ourselves. We do know that we are worthy of respect, and that we can ask for what we want in a respectful and clear way. Being assertive is a gift to ourselves and to those around us; we are clearly asking for what we want.
Questions for reflection:
- In what area of my life would I like to be more assertive?
- How can I balance assertiveness with tact?
- How can I ask for what I want and need?
- What is one boundary I will set for myself this week?