Psychological Self-Help

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assertive by recognizing the harm done by unassertiveness: (1) you
cheat yourself and lose self-respect because you are dominated and
can't change things, (2) you are forced to be dishonest, concealing
your true feelings, (3) inequality and submissiveness threatens, if not
destroys, love and respect, (4) a relationship based on your being a
doormat, a slave, a "yes-person," a cute show piece or a source of
income is oppressive and immoral, (5) since you must hide your true
feeling, you may resort to subtle manipulation to get what you want
and this creates resentment, and (6) your compliance rewards your
oppressor. On the positive side, assertiveness leads to more self-
respect and happiness. Build up your courage by reviewing all the
reasons for changing. 
Finally, there are obviously situations in which demanding
immediate justice may not be wise, e.g. if you can get fired, if it would
cause an unwanted divorce, if you might be assaulted, etc. Even in
these more extreme cases, perhaps well planned or very gradual
changes would be tolerated. Under any circumstances, discuss the
reasons for becoming assertive with the other people involved so they
will understand and approve (if possible) or at least respect you for
being considerate of them, others, and yourself. 
STEP TWO: Figure out appropriate ways of asserting yourself in
each specific situation that concerns you.
There are many ways to devise effective, tactful, fair assertive
responses. Watch a good model. Discuss the problem situation with a
friend, a parent, a supervisor, a counselor or other person. Carefully
note how others respond to situations similar to yours and consider if
they are being unassertive, assertive or aggressive. Read some of the
books listed at the end of this method. Most assertiveness trainers
recommend that an effective assertive response contain several parts: 
Describe (to the other person involved) the troublesome
situation as you see it. Be very specific about time and actions,
don't make general accusations like "you're always
hostile...upset...busy." Be objective; don't suggest the other
person is a total jerk. Focus on his/her behavior, not on his/her
apparent motives. 
Describe your feelings, using an "I" statement which shows you
take responsibility for your feelings. Be firm and strong, look at
them, be sure of yourself, don't get emotional. Focus on
positive feelings related to your goals if you can, not on your
resentment of the other person. Sometimes it is helpful to
explain why you feel as you do, so your statement becomes "I
feel ______ because ______." (see the next method). 
Describe the changes you'd like made, be specific about what
action should stop and what should start. Be sure the requested
changes are reasonable, consider the other person's needs too,
and be willing to make changes yourself in return. In some
cases, you may already have explicit consequences in mind if
the other person makes the desired changes and if he/she
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