Learning to Get Along in the World – Being Assertive Vs. Aggressive


 

What does it mean to mature?

In one of my prior articles, I addressed just screaming to get what you wanted and indicated that such behavior only works for babies, small children and teenagers prior to their being grounded. It may also work for corporate types until they get their first performance review. In other words, acting act by yelling is a sign of immaturity which also implies that if you haven’t learned not to yell or scream every time something isn’t right in your world, well, you guessed it, you’re just not mature.

What comes next?

Proper behavior is important to moving our lives forward in a positive direction. There’s a whole set of what can be construed as behavior most becoming a young adult, an adult, and a professional. Today, I’m just going to address the difference between being aggressive and being assertive.

When we are young and our parents just tell us to “Be quiet since good children are seen and not heard,” many individuals begin to feel incapable of expressing their opinions appropriately as adults. I see this often in my coaching. Such people feel that what they have to say just isn’t important and thus they have a difficult time of getting their needs met. Now we’re on to something. Eventually, this individual gets tired of holding their unmet needs in, so to speak, and what comes out may not be pretty. Most probably, the result of parents not allowing their children to be heard when they were young, fails to foster a sense of self-worth and thus, the child and later, the adult, may go to extremes to be heard. I believe that this is the cause of work place violence, domestic abuse, and many other extremes of behavior. Is it justifiable? Of course not. Most parents are just behaving the way they thought was best for their children. I fully believe that my parents never wanted me to have trouble relating to others when they told me to,”Be quiet, we don’t want to hear your opinion”. Yet, this is what I heard growing up. It made me feel bad, just like my opinion wasn’t worth anything. And, at the time, it wasn’t valued. But later, I felt it wasn’t valued in other more public arenas as well.

It took me a very long time to figure out that I was a good person and that my opinion mattered just as much as the next person. Once this transition occurred, I had to modify my behavior. I was being a bit too pushy in trying to get my needs met initially. I was being aggressive and therefore offensive to some people. Moderating this behavior to be more socially acceptable is what assertive responses are all about.

I feel intuitively that what I experienced as a child is common among many other children of my generation since their parents told them the same thing that my parents told me. In turn, these children of depression era parents also learned that their opinions were not valued. Unfortunately, not everyone can figure out on their own that they are important, regain their self-worth, and make the transition from aggressive to assertive behavior.

How can one learn to be less aggressive and more assertive?

Here’s where getting help is important. If you can’t seem to figure out what’s wrong with your own behavior, but you do realize that there’s a problem, find appropriate help. Help may take the form of a mental health practitioner, an energy worker such as myself, or a good friend.. Don’t allow yourself to get into trouble. Do be proactive and get the proper support. Hopefully, you will eventually learn to moderate your behavior and be a much happier and more successful person.

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