Sunday, September 12, 2010

Finding Your Voice

It seems like the people who it is hardest to assert yourself with are always the ones closest to you ,and who you love the most. Growing up, many of us learn to please the adults around us who have power over our lives. While being sensitive to the feelings of others is an important quality, learning to speak up when it counts, or when someone close to you is out of line, is also essential.

Self-assertion is especially a challenge for many women, and for young women in particular. Carl Jung told us that in the second half of life, if all maturing goes well, men become softened and more gentle, while women become stronger and have more of a voice than they did earlier. In the growing up years, girls often are afraid to speak up or share their thoughts. The American Association of University Women(AAUW) published their landmark study on girls in the coeducational classroom, and how girls often participate less, and speak up less, in the presence of the opposite sex.

It is my great joy to work with my patients of all ages and both genders to help them develop their own voice. It takes a strong sense of self to learn to appropriately speak up at the right time, and in the right way. It is a great enhancement to your self-esteem to know how to do this, and you can feel successful and at peace with yourself to not be bullied or treated in a way that makes you feel disrespected.

Being positively assertive means standing up for yourself in such a way that you are honest with the other person about what you want, feel, or think. You don't shut down, distance, or stack your internal cupboard with resentment. That would be the passive approach, which enables the bully to keep up their bad behavior, makes you feel distant and like you are in the WRONG relationship, and gives the other person no boundary. Passive people enable bad behavior in others since they are afraid to ever stand up.

Being aggressive is going too far. It is being honest at the other persons' expense. Aggressive people rage at others, call names, and verbally bully others to get their own way. You might win the argument, but others will distance themselves from you emotionally because you are unfair and disrepectful to them. People who have done their own internal work on themselves, examined their lives, and are at peace with themselves, don't want or need to be aggressive or be around others with an aggressive style. It's exhausting, and like the movie 'Ghostbusters', it makes you feel you have been slimed.

So where do you need to positively assert yourself in your life? Is their a person at work or at home that makes you feel trampled? Or, perhaps you are someone who has been acting too controlling and aggressive with others, and you need to take inventory, make amends, and begin again, in a new way, with the people you care most about. This is a new week and a new beginning.

Girls and women, in particular, need to know that you can still be feminine and be positively assertive. It doesn't require you to be bossy, nasty, or mean. You don't have to be pushy or disagreeable. YOU JUST NEED TO BE ABLE TO SPEAK UP APPROPRIATELY WHEN THAT STILL, SMALL VOICE INSIDE OF YOU SAYS SOMETHING IS NOT RIGHT.

Here are some of everybody's basic human rights in relationships:

1. The right to act in ways that promote your dignity ond self-respect, as long as you don't violate others' rights.

2. The right to be treated with respect.

3. The right to say no and not feel guilty.

4.The right to experience and express your own feelings.

5.The right to slow down and think.

6. The right to change your mind.

7. The right to ask for what you want.

8.The right to do less that what you are humanly capable of doing.

9.The right to ask for information.

10. The right to feel good about yourself.

11. The right to make mistakes, acknowledge, and learn from them.

12. The right to grow and change.

When you are positively assertive this week, see what happens. If it is a new behavior, like a new muscle you build up at the gym, it may be uncomfortable. Keep it up. It will get easier with practice. If you are assertive, it greatly enhances your chances of getting what you want. At the very least, you will build your confidence, be honest, and engender your respect and the respect of the people you are close to. You will find your voice, and that's a very good thing.

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