During our treatment with individuals at Collier Counseling, LLC, we sometimes see the underlying theme of lack of assertiveness. Assertiveness is the quality of being self-assured and confident without being aggressive. We view assertiveness as a mode of communication and learnable skill. When individuals are passive, they are often left feeling dissatisfied, overlooked, and worthless because their needs are not getting met and their boundaries are being disregarded. These feelings can turn into resentment for one’s self and others and lead to feelings of anxiety or a depressed mood. When what we feel does not align with what we think or do, this creates dissonance in our body which feels like anxiety. We may even begin to think our voice or opinion does not matter and should be overlooked which feeds feelings of low self-worth. In attempt to avoid direct confrontation, we may become resistant to others by sulking, not keeping commitments, or refusing to be helpful when we should. This is called being passive-aggressive.
Assertiveness should not be confused with aggressive communication. Aggressive communication forcefully gets your point across without any regard for others and can be quite offensive. Communicating aggressively can worsen someone’s social anxiety, as it is almost certain they will be negatively judged for their aggressive style of communicating and this fear of judgement is the hallmark of social anxiety. Sometimes aggressive communicators try to “fix” the problem by choosing not to communicate at all, which is isolating and creates the opportunity for a vicious passive-aggressive cycle.
We identify with individuals the underlying causes of their passivity or aggressiveness. This often leads to an exploration of communication styles from our family of origin, our own self-worth, feelings of guilt or shame, and respect for ourselves and others. We will start small, simply learning to acknowledge and pinpoint what we need and want. From there, we will learn skills to express our needs and wants without self-compromising or disregarding others.
If you would like to begin your journey towards creating healthy boundaries and getting your needs met, give us a call at 404-618-1040 and let one of our skilled clinicians join you on the journey towards self-assurance.