How assertive are you? People with low self-esteem often have difficulty going after what they want in life. They fear judgment, ridicule, and failure. They’re not assertive. Being assertive and having healthy self-esteem go hand in hand. When you increase one, you automatically increase the other. Learning to have better self-esteem and learning to be more assertive will help you both personally and professionally.
1. Start Small
Assertiveness is like a muscle. It gets bigger with exercise. However, you don’t want to go out and try to deadlift 500 pounds. You won’t succeed, it’ll hurt, and the disappointment may keep you from trying again. Instead, start with something that you know you can do. For example, if the host at a restaurant places you near the kitchen, practice assertiveness and ask for a different table. As you begin to use that skill and you learn to process the response you receive from your requests, you’ll become more comfortable and more confident – it’ll boost your self-esteem.
2. Release Guilt
One of the reasons that many people justify not asking for what they want or need is that they feel guilty. They worry about being a bother or annoying someone. Let that go. Asking for what you want is essential to your wellbeing. It’s not greedy or pushy to ask for what you want and need. If you feel guilty, stop and think about why. Then ask yourself if that guilt is healthy for you and productive. If the answer is no, let it go.
3. Practice Awareness and Assertiveness
Pay attention to your thoughts and feelings. As you find yourself wanting something, pay attention to your thought process. Do you think, “Oh, I can’t ask for that? She’ll think I’m…” If you find yourself worrying about what other people are thinking about you, ask yourself if those thoughts and concerns are reasonable and relevant. If the hostess thinks you’re high maintenance, does it really matter?
Sometimes it’s helpful to talk to yourself like you talk to a friend or a beloved family member. What would you say to them if they were afraid to ask for what they wanted? Tell yourself the same thing! Treat yourself like you’d treat a loved one. Healthy self-esteem is a process of paying attention to what you want and need, and honouring that.