Learning to be assertive is one of the most important life skills you can develop. That’s true for anyone – but especially for narcissistic abuse survivors. Studies have shown that being assertive can lead to a whole host of benefits, from increased self-confidence to better relationships and improved mental and physical health.
What does it mean to be assertive?
Before you start trying to develop the strength you’ll need to make this happen, it’s important to understand what being assertive means. Psychologists define assertiveness as being able to express yourself effectively and stand up for your point of view while respecting the rights and beliefs of others. The basis of assertiveness is mutual respect and honesty. Assertive communicators are straightforward and know how to set and maintain healthy boundaries. Their relationships value and promote trust.
Why is it so important to be assertive in narcissistic abuse recovery?
‘When we have been in situations where we’ve dealt with narcissistic abuse, we often fall into the role of people-pleaser. We become codependent and end up allowing ourselves to be walked all over by the toxic people in our lives. As you go forward in your recovery from narcissistic abuse, you are going to go through a whole-self transformation, one that can change your life forever – and for the better. You’ll be living more authentically and you’ll be setting boundaries in ways you never have before. It can be a beautiful thing.
But, if you’re serious about living an authentic life and succeeding in reaching your goals, learning to be assertive is crucial. So let’s dig into this.
How do you learn to be assertive?
Take a few minutes and think about how you feel about your life right now. Ask yourself some simple questions.
- Are you satisfied with your personal and professional situation?
- Are you conflict-avoidant?
- Do you worry about what other people think of you?
- Do you often put aside your own wants and needs in favor of others?
- Do you find that your relationships tend to be one-sided?
If you’re not happy with where you are now, the good news is that assertiveness is a habit that can be learned just like any other. With practice and commitment, you can change your mindset and live a life more aligned with your true values and aspirations.
Try these tips for becoming more assertive.
- Decide what your priorities are and stick to them.
- Work out your individual boundaries.
- Develop a positive open posture and look people in the eye when you speak to them.
- Use positive “I” statements about how you’re feeling instead of blaming or finding fault with the other person. Be especially wary of feeling tempted to say, “you always” or “you never.”
- Get comfortable with saying “no’ to things you don’t want to or can’t do. Keep it simple and non-emotive and don’t feel you need to add an excuse or explanation.
- Only use “sorry’ when it’s appropriate for the situation. You don’t need to apologize for saying no.
- Offer alternative suggestions to proposals you don’t like.
- Look for compromises.
- Be honest and direct about your feelings, thoughts, and intentions.
- Consider writing a script for a situation that feels awkward. Rehearse being confident.
- Try to keep your focus on the impact of the situation and finding a way to work together to find a mutually satisfying solution.
Above all, being assertive means staying in your power, accepting that you have control over how you approach the situation and your feelings about it. Assertiveness won’t get you everything you want all the time, but you will feel in control and deal much better with situations that would have previously been stressful.
Helpful Resources for Narcissistic Abuse Survivors
Learn to Stand Up for Yourself
I’m currently offering a free ebook and mini-course on how survivors of narcissistic abuse can be more assertive in setting boundaries if you’re interested. You can sign up for free right here.
- Take the Test: Are you dealing with a toxic narcissist in a relationship?
- Healing Resources for Survivors
- How to Leave a Narcissist (PLAN)
- No Contact Support
- Tools for Recovery
- First Aid (PERK)
- Free Online Support Groups
- Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Coaching
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- Why do narcissists follow identical relationship patterns?
- Toxic Abuse in Relationships: Inside the Narcissist’s Devalue and Discard Phases
- Surviving Narcissistic Abuse: 65 Things You Might Say to Your Narcissist If You Could
- How to Train a Narcissist: A Non-Toxic, Repeatable Two-Step Plan to Get a Narcissist to Treat You Better
- 121 Things Narcissists Say When They Are Gaslighting You
- Are narcissists jealous of their children?
- The Hard Part: Why and How You MUST Resist Narcissistic Hoovering
- Narcissistic Abuse Recovery: Get Out of the Fog with Mindfulness
- New Study Offers Surprising Insight Into Why You Fell for a Narcissist
- Narcissists and Blame Shifting: Are you a built-in scapegoat?