In a discussion today, I heard one explanation of assertiveness as: the sharing of “what I think, what I feel, and what I want”.
I really like this. I like the difference between that and, what I would now consider, aggressiveness. Aggressiveness in this light, is the attempt to convince or even force someone else to think/feel/want something or to try to “win” a battle of opinion.
I haven’t always been the most assertive person, often because I have made the (erroneous) assumption that to be assertive, I must be certain I’m right, before I make a statement. But when it comes to sharing what I think, feel or want, there really aren’t absolute “rights” and “wrongs”. (Of course, I can be mistaken about matters of fact, but by communicating what I think, I can be corrected and learn.)
When it comes to what I feel and want however, those are entirely up to me. Being assertive now doesn’t sound quite so scary. It’s just a statement of what is true for me at that moment, and I can easily stand behind that. It’s sharing who I am, and without sharing who I am with the people in my life, I won’t make connection. And my life without connection is not healthy.
I’ve spent so much of my life trying to stay “off the radar” — afraid of offending someone with a point of view I may hold that is contrary to theirs. I don’t think that’s a viable strategy for me going forward. It’s quite possible (and likely, even) for people to think, feel, and want different things without necessitating that one is more right or wrong or invalid. The live and let live idea. Or better yet, “live and let live and maybe even learn”!