Psychological Self-Help

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the untrained spouse of a person in assertiveness training becomes
less effective and more anxious socially (Kolotkin & Wieliewicz, 1982).
So, as you gain communication skills, be sensitive to any difficulties
your partner is having. Perhaps both of you need assertiveness
training, e.g. your partner may need to tell you "no, you can do it all
by yourself." 
Practice is necessary. In learning any skill, as you know, practice
is necessary. You can practice new ways of relating with others by
imagining yourself saying and doing specific things, but better than
that, you can actually practice new ways of acting with a friend or in a
group or class, and, eventually, in the real situation. Role-playing is
one of the best ways to start if you have a good friend or a helpful,
understanding group you are comfortable with. See method #1 in
chapter 13. Eisler, et al (1974) successfully treated passive-avoidant
husbands with critical wives by role-playing common fight scenes and
teaching the husbands more assertive ways of responding. Note that
in this study, as mentioned above, assertiveness training using other
situations (not related to their marital problems) was not helpful, so
practice the exact behaviors you need to learn. 
Learn leadership skills. As Benjamin Franklin observed, "All
mankind is divided into three classes: those who are immovable, those
who are movable, and those who move." Only the movers--the
leaders--are growing and changing things. If you are tired of being a
follower, a cog in a wheel, a hired hand, then you need to take the
initiative and learn to lead, to move things along. By learning
leadership skills you are preparing to move into more responsible
positions (see method #15 in chapter 13). These traits are also
discussed in chapters 9. You may first need to get out from under the
control of others before you can become your own boss (Piaget,
1991). 
"I" statements. Anyone who has a problem relating to another
should be familiar with "I" statements. The overly dependent person
should become an expert in communication, noting exactly how he/she
influences others and gets them to meet his/her needs. "I feel _____"
statements can certainly be used to maintain our own dependency, but
they can also be the most effective and tactful way of asserting oneself
and being independent. See method #4 in chapter 13. 
The low key, compliant, unassertive person will profit from
knowledge and communication skills, such as persuasion methods,
as well as assertiveness. The more knowledge and experience you
have, the more appropriate solutions you will be able to conceive. But,
how and when you present those ideas--the effectiveness of your
communication--will largely determine how influential you are. See
method #16 in chapter 13. 
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