Why can't you just say no?

Emily Hurley-wilkinson

Published 11/10/2012 | 10:40

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DO you find it hard to say no even if saying yes places you in a difficult situation?

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If you do say no to others requests, do you feel guilty afterwards? Do you find yourself worrying that others will be angry with you if you do not do what they ask? Do you feel that the needs and wants of others are more important than your own needs and desires?

If you find yourself saying yes to these questions, you will need to take a close look at yourself and your skills of assertiveness.

Our level of assertiveness is something that many of us have probably thought about but never really fully understood and so we remain unsure about how to develop it.

In simple terms, having appropriate assertiveness means communicating our needs and wants in a manner that respects our own rights and that of others. It means stating our views with respect, integrity and honesty without feeling guilt which leads to low assertiveness or by being too forceful which results in aggressiveness.

Assertive behaviour is shaped by our ideas and beliefs, habits and behaviours. Essentially what you believe about yourself will have a major impact on how you communicate and ultimately how you behave.

Building assertiveness happens from the inside out and begins with a process of self enquiry by exploring your current beliefs.

It is well documented that our beliefs are established from early childhood experiences and remain with us into adulthood.

How assertive we are as adults is largely determined by these beliefs and all our personal experiences, successes and failures. For example a person with low assertiveness may hold the following beliefs: * I have no right to ask for help. * It is shameful to make mistakes. * It is selfish to put my needs first. * People don't want to know how you feel, so keep it to yourself. * They must not like me because they have said no to my request. * Keep differences of opinions to yourself especially with a person in authority. * It's best not to rock the boat. * You should always say yes to requests made on you.

Many people are not sure about how they should behave in a particular situation because they are unsure of their ' rights'. Rights stem from your beliefs and if your beliefs are distorted or outdated, you must learn to inquire into them, challenge them and reframe them so that they support you in your journey through life.

Exploring your beliefs is the foundation for understanding your rights and ultimately developing your assertiveness. To not take control and continue to remain passive will eventually result in feelings of resentment and bitterness.

On the opposite end of the scale, there are those who act aggressively. Often people who lean towards this behaviour believe that they will not have influence over others unless they act in this manner or they fear they might look weak and unimportant. As a result they sometimes act in ways that are dishonest, inappropriate and disrespectful.

Developing appropriate levels of assertiveness is no easy task! Healthy assertiveness flourishes when you understand your thinking patterns, educate your mind and make a decision to take control!

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