Being assertive is important to women because:
If being assertive is important, why aren't women assertive?
As a therapist, I was taught to teach assertiveness through a series of skills to my clients but found that these skills rarely worked. The reason, I believe, is that assertiveness skills training did not take into account the influence of gender.
This challenges socially constructed notions that women ought to communicate politely. Politely often translates into not communicating anything that might be received as unpleasant.
I found that even though I tell women in my office being assertive is important they still struggle. It takes a great deal of work, more than just learning a set of skills, to upend the belief that you are going against who you should be as woman when you are assertive. A part of you may really believe being assertive is bad behavior because you may have been conditioned this way.
Being assertive is important in each of these situations, and each one is and actual example of a situation a client I have worked with has struggled with.
Being assertive is important for equality in all relationships. It allows you to act in your best interests, stand up for yourself, express your feelings, and enjoy your rights (Alberti and Emmons, 2009).
These issues are all important for women. Especially because they are things every woman I work with grapples with.
We struggle to know we can act in our best interest. We are taught it is selfish.
We struggle to stand up for ourselves because we are taught that it isn't polite or is rude.
We struggle to express particular feelings such as anger, hostility, and frustration.
Studies show that because of this, we are at greater risks for depression and even physical conditions such as heart disease.
Understanding your basic rights can help you in all areas of your life.
Jakubowski and Lange (1978) elaborated the first published list of basic Assertive rights.
According to the authors, every human being, regardless of gender, race or religious affiliation, has the right to favor one's own dignity and self-respect without violating others' rights.
I find this to be a beneficial list when working with my clients. So many of them have NOT been taught they have the right to these things. It touches on things like boundaries, guilt, and codependency without naming them as such. . This is the basis for their assertiveness rights. It's relevance can't be overstated. I am outlining it here, although I will be referring to women when discussing it because I am talking to my women clients.
Promote their dignity and respect or be themselves without feeling guilty. Every woman should be herself without feeling guilty/ashamed, since everybody is unique in her views, intentions, and actions.
Every woman should be treated with respect by family and friends. Others should accept every woman as an equal and worthy human being.
Every woman has the right to say "No" without feeling guilty: You have limited energy and time and need to consider how you want to spend it, or you will not be happy, and the quality of your life will be reduced. This isn't selfish, but your right as a human being. You get to determine and shape the quality of your life by saying no to what you don't want and yes to what you want.
Every woman has a right to feel and express personal feelings, especially "negative" emotions. Not expressing these difficult emotions of anger and frustration can lead to guilt and frustration, so it's essential that they be expressed in personal relationships if they are to be healthy. Healthy relationships with people are built on sharing and discussing feelings, not hiding them. Women deserve healthy relationships.
Every woman has a right to take a break, calm down and think. You can ask for this if you need it. You can ask for space or time if necessary to make decisions. You may need rest to make decisions or before you give people responses. You may need rest and to take breaks in general. Everyone does to be their best. This is your right as a human.
Every woman has a right to change her mind based on the newly received information. People around you should not label this as inconsistent or irresponsible, nor should you. This is an adaptive trait of flexible thinking. It is your right to change your mind.
Every woman has a right to ask for what she needs: Everyone has a right to express their needs without being afraid or judged, accused, or regarded as too bold. People around you can't be expected to read your mind, so if you have specific things you want or need, you have a right to ask for them.
Every woman has a right to do less. You get to decide what is too much and too little for you to do to avoid physical and mental exhaustion. Not only the right but the responsibility to care for your mental and physical health. You yourself get to decide in your life what is more or less important and to prioritize these things, and determine where you invest this energy.
Every woman has a right to ask for information. You should not be afraid to ask for information because you will be condescended to, treated with contempt or disrespect. It is best to ask questions to make important decisions about your life and succeed.
Every woman has a right to make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes and being afraid to make mistakes holds you back from doing things you need to do to be happy. It can prevent you from having moved forward in your life professionally and personally. You have a right to make mistakes.
Every woman has a right to feel good about herself. Knowing you have the above rights and pursuing them isn't selfish.
If someone is treating you as if you don't have these assertive rights, your rights are being violated.
Why being assertive is important References
Alberti, R. E., & Emmons, M. L. (2008). Your perfect right: Assertiveness and equality in your life and relationships (9th ed.). Atascadero, CA: Impact Publishers.
Ecaterina, P. (2017). ASSERTIVENESS: THEORETICAL APPROACHES AND BENEFITS OF ASSERTIVE BEHAVIOUR [Abstract]. Journal of Innovation in Psychology, Education and Didactic, Vol. 21,(1), 83-96.
Jinsi, A. J. (2006). Self Assertiveness and Emotional Intelligence of Higher Secondary Students. Unpublished M. Ed dissertation. Farook Training College, University of Calicut.
Gay, M. L., Hollandsworth, J. G., & Galassi, J. P. (1975). An assertiveness inventory for adults. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 22(4), 340–344. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0076706
Kraft, W. A., Litwin, W. J., & Barber, S. E. (1986). Religious orientation and assertiveness: Relationship to death anxiety. The Journal of Social Psychology, 127, 93-95.
Peneva, I., & Mavrodiev, S. (2013). A historical approach to assertiveness. Psychological Thought, 6(1), 3-26. doi:10.5964/psyct.v6i1.14
Sheinov, V. P. (2014). Razrabotka testa assertivnosti, udovletvoriaiushchego trebovaniiam nadezhnos6 ti i validnosti [Development of the test of assertiveness, satisfying the requirements of reliability and validity]. Voprosy psikhologii [Questions of psychology], no. 2, 107-116.
Stein, S. J, & Book, H. E. (2011). The EQ Edge: Emotional Intelligence and Your Success, 3rd
Smith, M. J. (1985). When I say no, I feel guilty. New York: Bantam Books.
Stein, S. J, & Book, H. E. (2011). The EQ Edge: Emotional Intelligence and Your Success, 3rd Edition. Willey.
Wolpe, J. (1958). Psychotherapy by Reproach Inhibition. Stanford University Press: Stanford,
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