Confidence & Self-Esteem


Assertiveness is being able to stand up for yourself, making sure your opinions and feelings are considered and not letting other people always get their way. It is not the same as aggressiveness. You can be assertive without being forceful or rude. Instead, it is stating clearly what you expect and insisting that your rights are considered. Assertion is a skill that can be learnt. It is a way of communicating and behaving with others that helps the person to become more confident and aware of themselves. Lack of assertiveness is common in social phobia. People with social phobia sometimes think that other people are being judgmental and critical about them and will avoid social situations because of this.

Everybody has the right to be treated fairly. Sometimes, in an effort to appear easy to get along with, we allow our rights to take a back-seat to those of others. On occasion this can lead to us being taken advantage of, or our voice not being heard. We can see assertiveness as sitting comfortably in the middle of the passive-aggressive behaviour scale. At one end of the scale is passive behaviour. When a perosn is passive, other people are given the prority. The passive person does not see their own needs as being as important as those of others, and this can lead to feelings of low self-worth, low-self esteem and depression. On the other hand, an agressive person adopt the perspective that their needs are more important than those of others. Assertiveness is the ability to honestly express opinions, feelings, attitudes, and rights, without anxiety, in a way that does not affect rights of others.

The Bill of Assertive Rights

  • 1. You have the right to judge your own behaviour, thoughts, and emotions, and to take the responsibility for their initiation and consequences upon yourself.
  • 2. You have the right to offer no reasons or excuses for justifying your behaviour.
  • 3. You have the right to judge if you are responsible for finding solutions to other people's problems.
  • 4. You have the right to change your mind.
  • 5. You have the right to make mistakes - and be responsible for them.
  • 6. You have the right to say, 'I don't know'.
  • 7. You have the right to be independent of the goodwill of others before coping with them.
  • 8. You have the right to be illogical in making decisions.
  • 9. You have the right to say, 'I don't understand'.
  • 10. You have the right to say, 'I don't care'.

(from Manuel J. Smith, When I say No, I Feel Guilty, Bantam (1975))