Psychological Self-Help

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"I don't want to make a scene." Tactful and rational
assertiveness should not degenerate into a loud fight. If you
are being overcharged or under serviced, it is your civic duty to
point out the unfairness and request better service. 
"They'll get mad at me." Could be, many people have learned
to intimidate others by getting angry. But look at it as another
manipulation that doesn't need to upset you and does
represent a silly, unfair way of controlling you and others. Don't
get angry, just be firmly assertive. 
"Why haven't others complained?" Like 1 this thought raises
our self-doubts. Remember the studies in this chapter that
show how very conforming and passive people are. Suppose
the napkins in a bar degrade women and when you express
your disapproval to the manager, he says, "No one else has
ever complained. In fact, many people think they are funny.
Maybe you've got a hang up." Don't let this insult put you on
the defensive. Tell him that just because most customers don't
say anything doesn't mean they like the putdown of women.
And to prove your point, if he doesn't change the napkins, tell
him you will write a letter to the editor of the local paper asking
people's opinion of his attitude towards women. If you are in
public and in doubt about how others feel, conduct your own
poll but word your question so that people taking no action
appear to support your position. For example, suppose you
would like the loud music to be turned off at a picnic, you might
ask everyone: "How many here want to listen to the radio?"
rather than "How many want to turn the radio off?" That way all
the non-responders, for whatever reason, look like they do not
want to listen to the radio. 
"I can't do anything about it." This helpless attitude is the
major cause of compliance. It is a self-putdown. It is also a
condemnation of "the system" which is seen as unchangeable.
Blacks, women, and other minorities "went along" for a long
time. Victims give power to the oppressor by doing nothing. Do
something! Write letters, talk to the owner or manager, ask a
politician to change things, start a group to correct some
situation, etc. Chapter 13 gives detailed suggestions for being
effectively assertive. The first task, however, is to deal with
your excuses and decide that you have a right to take action. 
Breaking Away From Parents
Our emotional ties with our parents are stronger and often more
complex than with anyone else. We have already discussed how vital
love and care are to our physical and psychological well being; we are
totally dependent for a few years. According to Cindy Hazan of Cornell
University, by age 5, we have started to prefer to play with friends
rather than with Mom and Dad, but we want to be with our parents
when we are upset, and Mom and Dad are counted on for security.
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