Get Assertive and Stand Up For Yourself

The theme of anger will dominate this month’s blog posts, because so many men deal so ineffectively with it. I thought the best idea to write about was learning to get assertive instead of angry and/or stuffing it, three very different things.

I have learned to make my anger work for me, especially in the case of getting things done in the world or confronting people who, I feel, need to hear from me. Over the years, I’ve personally learned to challenge my fear of upsetting others, and being fundamentally o.k. with having a different – and contrary – viewpoint from what other’s may think. For me, learning to trust my gut, or instinct, and speak through my discontent, even if it’s perceived as “wrong” to others, has helped me get what I want, and deal with others in a whole new way (as well as gain their respect, contrary to what my fear lead me to believe beforehand).

I was stood up twice this week by a representative from a local nursery, who promised to come out to my home and help me sketch out plans for turning my bare backyard into a fruit “orchard.” After no-showing on two different occasions (I wrote the first standup off due to communication breakdown), I decided I needed to say something to the manager and/or the owner who, I felt, should know that a disgruntled customer walked away from a potentially large sale.

I actually drove in to the nursery this morning, explained my case to the two managers, and was immediately confronted with caring and concession in the form of a significant discount on fruit and citrus tree purchases, which will probably exceed $1000, as well as a commitment to get someone over to my house immediately for that layout and design (he called me ten minutes ago and we set something up for Friday). I felt great about standing up for myself, and felt it was the right thing to do to actually go in and talk with them in person. And it worked like a charm.

I find that, when others are presented with reason, respect and legitimacy, they will, almost always bend to your way of thinking and feeling. Getting assertive is so different from the extremes of not saying anything, out of fear, or blowing up and getting angry/enraged, which alienates others and ensures you probably won’t get what you want, or you’ll get what you want at a cost to others.

Possible places in your life to consider getting more assertive:

– With coworkers

– With your spouse

– With unsatisfactory customer service experiences

– With your children

– With your parents

Recognizing and combatting the fear and the irrational beliefs you may have about standing up for yourself is essential in working through them to get assertive. You need to challenge those beliefs that hold you back from getting what you want, and for many of us, it’s only those fears that hold us back. I know it did with me. What’s the lesser of two evils: summoning up the courage to deal with your fears, or dealing with the guilt and the “doormat” feel of not standing up for yourself afterwards (plus, the “what ifs” of not getting what you want”)? It’s a question you might want to weigh when presented with a situation that begs your assertion.

Remember: getting assertive and standing up for yourself is the middle way between stuffing your needs and feelings, and exploding from them. It’s the path towards getting what you want, being more well liked and respected by others, and living in accordance with yourself. It’s taking care of yourself, and treating others with that same care.

About Jason

As "The Man That Men Will Talk To," Jason Fierstein, MA, LPC is a private practice counselor and psychotherapist for men and couples in the greater Phoenix, Arizona, area. He works with struggling men to find happiness in their lives, and with their wives.
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2 Responses to Get Assertive and Stand Up For Yourself

  1. katy says:

    My boyfriend will put me down and highlights my flaws often when I am feeling good about something that happned to me that day. It is very disturbing and I want to gently share with him how it makes me feel, but I am afraid it will set off another put down. Why does he do this?

  2. Jason says:

    Katy, thanks for your comment. I think it would be appropriate to share your feelings with your boyfriend, and how his criticism puts you in a worse place. I think continuing to reinforce this to him, and the effects of his criticism, are important, and if this doesn’t work, I would consider getting some couples counseling to work it out. Usually people who are critical or act superior are masking other things, e.g. anger, not getting something they need from their partner, etc. So, you might want to work with your boyfriend to see what’s behind the criticism, without playing a therapist, of course! Good luck.

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