Honest Assertiveness

Today’s Thought: Take your power back by uncovering your limiting beliefs.

To help me get through this difficulty I have with my new superior, I have been working on my assertiveness and have have been trying to uncover why I find being assertive so difficult.

I have a couple of recommendations that have really enlightened me over the past few weeks: A short course in assertiveness from the Centre of Clinical Interventions. My therapist gave me the course on paper and to be honest, I was a little cynical. I felt that we had tried this before and it hadn’t made any difference. My therapist said it was a key time to try again as I was slap bang in the middle of an emotional crisis and the work would be likely to have the most effect right now. She hasn’t been wrong so far!

The other tool I have been using is a book called ‘It Didn’t Start With You’ by Mark Wolynn. This book is all about working through inherited trauma. It is fascinating and has had a profound impact on my ability to be assertive as it has helped me unlock the inherited trauma that has been holding me back. If you cannot identify where your trauma comes from or why you have certain beliefs and behaviours, then I would seriously recommend that you read this book and talk it over with your therapist – or even just a friend that you truly trust.

This week has been tough but empowering. It’s been so empowering that I am scared I will become cocky! I am waiting for the ‘fall’, when everything comes crashing down again. My therapist tells me, though, that I should live more in the moment and right now, things have been improving therefore I should enjoy it!

For the first time this week, I stood up for myself with not just one superior, but three! My team and I are really passionate about doing a new project in a particular way. My superiors have been sceptical, but we have argued our case and so far they haven’t been able to find a good reason why we shouldn’t go ahead. Another superior came to see how myself and my team had been getting on generally; I was assertive once again and challenged some of the criticisms they threw at me. Once again, the world didn’t cave in and I wasn’t sacked – I was simply challenged to prove that what I was saying was true by providing evidence. I could do this, so again they left satisfied and actually wrote a reasonably positive report on what they had seen.

In short, the fire has been lit within me and I don’t intend to let it go out!

Here is my core sentence that describes the block to me being assertive: I fear judgement of my choices as if they are judged unfavourably, I lose everything. This fear has been holding me back for years and I now know it didn’t start with me. It harks back to my father asking a judge to live with his mother and the judge disregarding that request and sending him to live with his father. He was devastated. I have been left with that terror of judgement; that distorted reality about how much power people can have over your life; that sensation that I am a child when people provide criticism over decisions I have made and that the criticism and judgement people make can destroy my life (as it obviously did my father’s).

Using the assertiveness course materials has provided me with a framework to respond to criticism within – I have already used some of the techniques during challenging conversations. Understanding where my crippling fear comes from has helped me to recognise that I don’t need to own that terror any more – I can give it back. I know that the biggest mistake I made when thinking that others had power over me was that I didn’t think I had any power myself. That is simply not true! Everyone has power of some kind; everyone has the right to have their voice heard and if you don’t use your voice, then you are giving away your power.

I might not win every battle that is to come; I will still need to evaluate criticism towards my work to check that I am not missing helpful observations, but I must also remember that I have rights and power just as strong as my superiors and that it is essential that I use my voice to ensure that I don’t give my power away!

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