Rights exercised by assertive people are based on loyalty to themselves and respect for others. It is a foundational exercise of emotional intelligence, something we use to find our true identity. It’s saying, “this is me, this is what I think, this is what I want and feel“.
Tacitus, a famous historian of the Roman Empire, said that nothing can make humans happier than to finally live in a time where you may think what you want and say what you think. However, the strangest thing is that despite our world offering us so many forms of self-expression today, we still do not do all that well.
“Assertiveness is not what you do, it’s who you are”.
Let’s think about it for a moment. Aggressive communication abounds today, but we cannot forget about passive communication. We are not always completely honest and we do not always defend our own rights.
Finding the perfect balance between aggressive and passive is more difficult than we think. Psychologist Daniel Ames of Columbia University demonstrated this. According to him, most of us still have misconceptions about the subject. We think that imposing ourselves in any context, or even leading, means we must be “aggressive”.
This is a mistake. In fact, the most successful and happy people have relaxed, assertive and intuitive personalities.
1. Rights practiced by assertive people: expressing their opinions and feelings
The rights that assertive people exercise are not learned overnight. Nobody comes into this world with assertiveness programmed into them. Although they should teach it to us at home and school, it’s not always done well.
Knowing how to express your opinions without fear or violence is really an art that takes daily work and practice. It takes will and especially awareness in all areas of life (school, family, friends, work, relationships). We need to know how to communicate our emotions, ideas, feelings…
2. The right to not need the approval of others
We all feel a need to fit in when we’re teenagers. At this stage, we think that our “survival” and happiness depend on it. However, as we mature we realize that life does not work that way. Harmony does not mean you have to be a multipurpose tool that fits into any situation.
Well-being, instead, is found in being coherent and maintaining our dignity. Coherence is carried out by means of keeping a balance between what one feels and what one does, between what one thinks and what one says. Therefore, we do not need to obsessively try to please the whole world and strive to make sure that our actions and opinions meet everyone’s expectations.
3. The right to not take responsibility for others
Assertive people also practice the right of not being responsible for everything that others say, do, think or need. We will take responsibility for ourselves, but anything beyond our own psychological arena is not our job.
4. The right to make mistakes
Another right we all have is the right to make mistakes. Who said we should be infallible? We are not; we have absolute freedom to commit as many mistakes as it takes. That said, it is indeed our obligation to learn from them and do better next time.
5. The right to say “I don’t know”
Not knowing is not a crime. It’s not an attack on anyone’s dignity and it doesn’t mean you’re ineffective. All learning begins with assuming your ignorance, after all. Being able to say out loud that we do not know something give us the opportunity to be better. Let’s not hesitate, therefore, to ask when we don’t know and to learn from those who do.
6. The right to change your mind
“But didn’t you say that you liked it? Didn’t you say you agreed?”
We’ve all been in that situation. You’re talking with someone who doesn’t understand why you now see life differently. Understand that changing your mind is not always a sign of instability or incoherence. People mature, and growing means taking on new perspectives.
7. The right to be proud of ourselves
Nobody has more of a right to celebrate our successes, achievements and even our mere existence than ourselves. Appreciating what we are is part of the celebration of life. We are a valuable gift, even if we don’t always think about it that way, and feeling proud of ourselves is also an assertive right.
Telling ourselves how much we are worth and speaking positive words to ourselves is not an act of vanity or selfishness. Quite the contrary. Therefore, have no qualms about loving every cell, every fiber of that person you see reflected in your mirror every day.
To conclude, these rights practiced by assertive people are powerful tools for your well-being and mental health. Let’s use them. Let’s respect ourselves and others.