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.
Before you start, 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.
If you’re serious about living an authentic life and succeeding in reaching your goals, learning to be assertive is crucial.
Think about how you feel about your life right now.
- Are you satisfied with your personal and professional situation?
- Are you conflict avoidant?
- Do you worry about what other people think of you?
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 introducing a more assertive approach into your life:
- 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.
FYI: 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.
Angela Atkinson is a Certified Life Coach and the author of more than 20 books on narcissism, narcissistic abuse recovery and related topics. A recognized expert on narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder who has studied and written extensively on narcissistic relationships since 2006, Atkinson was inspired to begin her work as a result of having survived toxic relationships of her own.
Atkinson offers trauma-informed coaching and has certifications in life coaching, level 2 therapeutic model, CBT coaching, integrative wellness coaching, and NLP. She is a certified trauma support coach and certified family trauma professional. She also has a professional PTSD counseling certification. Her mission is to help those who have experienced the emotional and mental devastation that comes with narcissistic abuse in these incredibly toxic relationships to (re)discover their true selves, stop the gaslighting and manipulation and move forward into their genuine desires – into a life that is exactly what they choose for themselves.
Along with her solution-focused life coaching experience, Atkinson’s previous career in journalism and research helps her to offer both accurate and understandable information for survivors of abuse in a simple-to-understand way that helps to increase awareness in the narcissistic abuse recovery community. Atkinson founded QueenBeeing.com Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support, the SPANily Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups and the Life Makeover Academy. In her life coaching practice, Atkinson’s clients enjoy her personalized approach that allows and encourages them to become the best possible versions of themselves and to succeed in doing what they love most. She offers individual and group coaching for victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse at NarcissisticAbuseRecovery.Online and NarcissismSupportCoach.com.