Say What Bothers You When It’s Happening, Not When It’s Too Late

November 21, 2016

The most appropriate time to indicate that something bothers you, overwhelms you and hurts you, is now. Only at this moment can you say it assertively and with your best words, before it becomes too much for you and you end up having an attack you really don’t want.

Some think that using the appropriate amount of assertiveness is something difficult or even selfish. Asserting oneself without harming others is the most effective approach to defending our personal and emotional rights. We do this by knowing how to respect the person we are facing at the same time.

It bothers me that you invade my personal space, that you make me vulnerable, that you make me feel small when my heart and my will are great. It bothers me and I defend myself so that you know where my limits are and that fence you should not cross if you really appreciate me.

One aspect to consider and which also appears in the articles in the newspaper “The Guardian” is the need to develop assertiveness in school and college contexts. An assertive child, student or adult, is a freer, more respectful and happier person.

butterfly on a hand

Saying what bothers me: a matter of personal dignity

Dignity should always be above the fear or concern of not pleasing or the fear of not being the way others expect you to be.

Acting assertively is part of having a good self-esteem. It is the decisive but respectful ability to reassert oneself in the complex social contexts we live in today. It is also clear that we cannot act aggressively by claiming our rights as if we were in a jungle. The key is balance, respect, and knowing how.

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woman with mask of blue flowers

The need to by liked by everyone

There is no greater source of stress and personal suffering than the need to be liked by everyone and fit into what the rest expect of us. It is not a healthy practice. The personal exhaustion that stems from it is tremendous.

Behind this type of tactic it definitely hides a constant need for approval. It also means following the misconception that “what others think of me is more important than the opinion I have of myself.”

The first rule of self-esteem tells us that before being accepted by others we must accept ourselves. This involves being brave to undo several knots:

  • The knot that binds you to people who do not accept the way you feel and see things.
  • The courage to cut the thread that anchors you to the need for approval and complacency. Dare to think for yourself and accept that the rest do not have to share your worldview or your way of understanding happiness.
  • Dare to also break the knot of passivity and fear of what people will say.
woman with an owl

How to express our feelings assertively

When something bothers us but we stay silent it creates a scab. If we swallow one annoyance after the other, in the end we become sick by our own poison. So, if we choose to react at the last minute when we are fed by anger and frustration, others will look at us in confusion when they discover everything we have allowed silently.

Assertiveness is the compass of self-esteem.  It is the voice that gives us dignity and defends our rights. Thus, it is vital to develop appropriate strategies to integrate it into our behavior:

These would be some basic guidelines:

  • Enter verbs such as “I want” “I like”, “I feel” into your everyday language. Become aware of the emotion or feelings that occur every time you use them.
  • If you experience a confusing situation, do not overlook it. If something bothers you, worries you or makes you anxious, try to clarify it “in the moment”.
  • Recognize the positive side of others. Give them reinforcement for behaviors that enrich you and that you consider positive or, as Kant would say, which are representation of a “universal work”.
  • When you experience a situation that fills you with anger or rage, go for some fresh air, breathe and translate into words every sensation by making the appropriate use of phrases like “I’m upset because…”, “I feel offended because…”
  • Do not reprimand too much or make use of irony or slights. Talk about your rights and needs, listen to others and do not be afraid to defend yourself. Respect yourself the way you respect others. Be smart, be worthy.

Assertiveness is the weapon of intelligence and personal safeguard. When used wisely it is the best energy nourish our self-esteem.

girl with butterflies in her hand

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