I measure how assertive I am and therefore place a lot of emphasis on my value by this one thing.
5 current beliefs about assertiveness and 5 new beliefs I’m exploring
Whether I get someone to move over on the sidewalk. It irritates me when I am walking down the street and I have to move over to let someone else pass.
When I get another person to move over so I can stay on the path I was on, I am elated. I’m thrilled and I feel powerful, strong and smart. It is like a surge of dopamine to my brain. I feel like I’m the leader and they are the person that has to follow me because I’m in charge.
There are times when I am face to face with someone and we come towards each other walking down the sidewalk but they won’t move. We get closer and closer and I stand my ground. Suddenly we are both completely stopped in front of each other. And even then I still won’t move. And the other person says excuse me and walks the other way. I feel this tension with men and women.
When I lose the sidewalk game I feel pathetic. Weak.
My self-worth is basically dependant on whether I get someone across the side of the street.
When I’m not successful in making the other person move over on the sidewalk I get really agitated and feel resentful down in my gut. I store up the irritation and eventually let it boil over when someone pushes me a bit too far one day. Or i don’t have the time and patience I’d like to listen to the people that matter to me, like my mom and brother.
I feel upset when I shimmy if a guy is walking in the way to be on the woman’s side because I know she will move. She is supposed to be nicer.
The people who others follow and respect. Those people don’t move out of the way on the sidewalk.
People move out of the way for them.
People smell you if you are leadership material, that’s what I think, that’s how I make judgments.
I’ve always felt that I was a leader but that I pail in comparison to anyone else. I compare, compare and I always come up short. People who talk, people who are taller, any trait that I see that comes from another makes me insecure when it comes to the leadership spot.
I want to be the leader so badly that I never get it. I always picture a boss seeing who could be the leader and saying, “she’s not ready.” and skipping over me. Often that is how things really play out.
Here are 5 beliefs that I currently hold that I’m in the process of challenging. It’s funny because I really thought I knew everything there is to know at this point and now life has turned the tables on me and I’m pretty much clueless.
1. Assertiveness is about butting heads until your the top dog
When I have interactions with some people, I operate from the belief that I have to dominate them or show them that they have the respect me by telling them what to do.
I do this by giving them a command “Can you remind me of this?” And I don’t just thoughtlessly blurt out that statement. I know what I’m doing and I know how I feel after I say it.
Like I am in control.
Sometimes this can result in a war of who can dominate each other around and around until one person comes out on top.
Actually most of the time, with millennial women my own age, this is the scenario that happens.
The nice one is the loser and the one who can be the harshest the longest without caving is the winner. I have searched for an answer to this question of how I can get around this belief.
I’ve heard one expert say to work from a place of your own strength an identify another person’s strengths too and use both of your strengths together.
But that belief was only superficially helpful.
Deep down underneath the surface, I still held the same belief about being top dog and it always emerges.
So much so that I got to a point (actually I’m at this point now) that every interaction I have I feel slighted, and every interaction is tense.
My tenseness and lack of patience toward feeling not assertive and not the leader has been causing me to say rude things or upbrupt things without thinking because i am angry.
2. Assertiveness is the only right way to be
I think in our culture right now there is a surge of women empowerment. I definitely drank the kool-aid without thinking too much into it.
Just mindlessly buying women empowerment because at a fundamental level I get it. I feel it. But it wasn’t until I took a trip to Canada and observed their culture and was able to be exposed to other beliefs that I started to see the intense pressure that millennials are under.
And it caused me to see assertiveness in a different light.
Assertiveness is good because its a better option than being silent or being a push over.
But, not having a strong reaction to everything and always feeling obligated to check people’s egos or otherwise have your power threatened is also a form of leadership and perhaps another form of assertiveness. Y
You have to find the right energetic shift to make that realization.
3. Puffing your chest and giving out orders is what leadership looks like
When I was in high school I wanted to be in an organization called Leader Corp.
It was a moment in my life where I knew I really, desperately wanted to be in this program.
It was for leaders in high school and I guess I am realizing I’ve always been fascinated by the word leader.
You had to apply to get in and I think they look at your grades and extra curricular activities. I didn’t get in. And I remember that I saw only the kids who lived in one neighborhood – a more upper-middle class neighborhood got in.
They were in all the same classes and did the same sports.
Since that time I still assumed a leader is a person who knows all the answers and because they do we they also need to show a lot of authority so that the situation is under control.
If faced with a problem a leader will quickly identify the right option and say it without hesitation. Because of his confidence other people will believe in him too and follow the command with respect.
I’ve always felt that I have to get to that place. That there is a gap from where I am at now and the x that marks the spot of leadership territory.
Do I have to change my personality to be the leader I want to be?
My natural traits are that I am nice, empathetic, driven, thoughtful and slow to make a decision that would impact a lot of people other than myself.
4. You are either assertive and confident or you are nice AKA a loser
You are either weak or strong.
If you show traits associated with weak such as being nice, not putting people in their place when they challenge you in front of others, showing that you have it all together all the time that’s why they put you in charge, being a thoughtful slower decision maker, caring too much, showing that you are human, and patiently waiting for them to finish then you are weak.
If you show no emotion, say statements in absolute certainty, show little humanity but have a knowingness that you have it under control then you are strong and other people can admire how you hold yourself and you probably get asked how can others be the same way.
- There can only be one assertive person allowed and you have to fight for the position
Only ONE spot allowed in the relationship. The assertive person and the weakling. Enough said.
There is always one person that is stronger in a relationship, and that person is more valuable and is generally better and the winner.
I was dog-sitting recently and the woman who owned the dog was my age.
I actually think she was born in 90 and I in 89 so I generally felt a sense that I knew more and she should listen to me. We wrestled with who is the top dog and even still it seems like she is the winner because at one point I was feeling nice and I let my guard down to say that her dog just started getting comfortable with me.
I reveled my kindness, my humanity and therefore am the loser in the relationship. And she is the superior because she stayed non emotional and gave out commands longer than i did.
Now here are new ways of thinking and beliefs that I have learned from doing my own research on becoming yourself.
5 new beliefs that I am considering:
6.Everyone carries the long black bag (shadow) It is the unsorted baggage we’ve been traveling with since childhood
I am frankly embarrassed that I didn’t fully under stand the concept of the shadow until my 29th year of life. I attribute this shame to my family not being educated enough and therefore me not knowing that the shadow is a key to freedom.
After reading the book Reboot and dabbling in 3 sessions of psychotherapy, I learned that our beliefs run everything. Belief is a word that i am numb to because 1. it’s over used and 2. no one really explains how to access your beliefs and what they are in a way that is actionable.
They just say that you have beliefs and that you have to change them. At no point did i see any messaging that said, Hey why don’t you go to therapy so that you can find out what your beliefs are and actually work with a therapist to go over your childhood and experiences and work to change the negative patterns that you are stuck in, then you can get better results in your life because your making more informed decisions.
That would’ve been helpful. But I am also working on not blaming anyone.
In the book reboot i’ve learned that everyone is carrying the long black bag of unsorted experiences that is just out of our sight. Everyone has them and it is a basis of how we chose life partners, friends, careers. It’s who we settle down with.
If you don’t sort your unconscious mind it will run your life and you will call it fate.
Do you want to be under the control of your beliefs that you don’t even know you have? And call it fate and blame it on other people? That sounds like agony to me.
One thing I touched on briefly in therapy was that I didn’t think my parent’s ambitions were enough. They didn’t accomplish enough for me to respect them. And in turn maybe that is why i am so ambitious. If i sort that out maybe i will have an even better. more authentic relationship with them istead of sometimes feeling like there is a wall between us.
7. How do I see Hierchy? The Triangle method
In the book reboot there was a moment that Jerry Colanna went into an organization that was very conflict adverse. And as a result the organization wasn’t making any progress. He asked if anyone had a lot of violence in the home when they were growing up and a few people said there had been a lot of yelling. The experiences of childhood when left unattended become future conflicts that can affect organizations and stop progress. He drew a triangle on a whiteboard and asked who is at the top. Clerly the leader is at the top. The leader that knows everything. but what if there is a better way to lead. instead of being the assertive, in your face woman who ends up getting angry when they are slighted, what if i am a “broken-hearted warrior” a term he uses in place of authentic. What if I were to lead from a place of my own vulnerability? Can women do that today and still be seen as a leader?
8. The Victim, the Persecutor and the Rescuer Mindset
I am listening to the audiobook of The Power of TED.
It is book about how to empower yourself and take yourself out of each of these three mindsets. I didn’t know that I was even in a victim mindset but now I see that totally WAS. This book is really amazing and I enjoyed it. These three mindsets create the DDT or Dreaded Drama Triange. I really felt like I was asleep all this time acting like a victim but now I am awake to that thinking and it feels great.
All three of these are positionalities are limiting and I didn’t even realize how detrimental and limiting they are.
The Victim- The victim has a poor me perspective and is at the effect of life’s circumstances. They are helpless. I’ve had to ask myself how often do I feel helpless when I don’t make others move over on the sidewalk, or when I don’t act as assertive as I can. Or when I’m too focused on being assertive that I don’t even enjoy the conversation anymore.
The Persecutor- This role fears loss of control or purpose. There cannot be a perpetrator without a victim and a perpetrator doesn’t have to be just a person. It can also be a condition, problem or circumstance.
Im not assertive
Person: Mark belittled me at work
Condition: There is something wrong with my personality
Circumstance: Society doesn’t treat women fairly
The Rescuerer- The rescuer’s underlying fear is that they will be abandoned. They need to make the victim feel better and depend on keeping the victim down so that they can continue to rescue. They may seem well meaning but it reinforces the sense of powerlessness.
All three of these positions are limiting and I realized I had been operating under the victim and perspecturor positions and they both left me powerless.
9. It’s Really Hard to Break Through the Smallness that Women are Taught to Live By
Not trying to be the victim here again but i’m having a TOUGH time breaking out of the sticky glue that is overtop of my real self. It feels like i’m trapped inside of my body to be honest. And that someone has sealed me up all my cracks with the highest quality glue.
I was talking to a woman that used to be a lawyer the other day. And I asked her if she ever had to overcome her smallness. She said she used to get shutdown when someone would challenge her. I asked if she thinks that is just a her problem or perhaps that a lot of other women experience these shutdowns because of what is acceptable of how a woman to act. To be quieter, to be more pleasing.
10. Assertiveness Isn’t Using Your Pent up Rage and Frustrations to Get What You Want
There comes a point that you get so fed up with the way you let other people treat you, or fed up with yourself for not being the person you want to be.
Then you might start to get triggered by EVERY interaction.
For me, even right now I get triggered at a lot of things. I start to have an angry reaction when I don’t feel I was respected enough, or I feel that I didn’t advocate for myself enough, or I played into my smallness, or people didn’t listen to me or dismissed me. I realized that the emotional reaction is really important.
I learned that emotions have information for us from deep inside of us. So to pay attention to how you feel. It’s for a reason.
For example, if I unpacked the reason I feel angry at interactions that I don’t feel assertiveness enough it could be traced back to feeling people-pleasing in my childhood. Not wanting to upset my family so staying small.