This blog post was featured on Mind Mastery Lab.
Many of us have a hard time assertive ourselves, or expressing our needs and wants to others. Whether it’s with a significant other, a parent, a family member, a friend, a colleague, or even a stranger, setting a boundary can be really hard to do. Often times, we avoid asserting ourselves because we want to avoid coming across as mean, rude, or selfish.
Some of us avoid expressing our needs, because we fear conflict that could disrupt or even end relationships.
Therefore, we try to demonstrate ourselves as nice or polite, and often ‘go along’ with others, as a way to maintain relationship. However, when we censor ourselves, it almost always comes at a cost.
Being nice is all well and fine, but when you are always trying to be nice in relationship with others, you will likely feel inauthentic and unfulfilled.
This is tricky, because many of us have a really hard time connecting with our authenticity, or even knowing at all what that truly means for us as individuals. But one thing is for sure, whether you are aware of it or not, when you engage in behaviors that are inauthentic, you can feel it; its uncomfortable and unsettling.
Being nice to the point of passivity may lead you to feel that a part of yourself is lost, as your neglect your uniqueness and forgo your desires.
In abusive relationships, niceness and passivity can lead certain individuals to respect you less, and even take advantage of your kindness through manipulation. Your passivity may come across as submissiveness, which can be very harmful when dealing with a person who seeks to use you.
Worse yet, when you are unable to ask for what you need and want, you demonstrate low self-worth.
The hallmark of a healthy relationship is the ability to speak openly and clearly to the other. Using assertive communication allows partners to create a meaningful relationship that is based on mutual respect, honesty, and trust. Those in healthy relationships value each other’s individuals needs and wants, while at the same time honoring limitations, differences, and natural conflict that can arise.
And hey, there is nothing mean about that.
Our desire for relationship is always appropriate, not to mention extremely important in living a full life. In addition to this, emotions, feelings, and underlying needs are always valid.
To put it simply, being assertive is not mean or rude. It is in your best interest to challenge any negative beliefs you have about being assertive, because, well, they probably just are not true.
Asserting yourself to set boundaries and express your needs, may in fact be the kindest thing you can do for yourself and for others.
Boundaries are not meant to upset others, they are not meant to be punitive, and they are not meant to be unkind or insulting. We do not set boundaries for others, we set boundaries for ourselves. Boundaries are meant to keep you safe in relationships.
The other person doesn’t have to agree with your boundaries and they don’t even have to like your boundaries.
Also, you don’t have to offer an explanation for your boundaries. A simple “No” will do just fine. The only thing that needs to happen afterwards, is that you simply follow through with your decision. And in doing so, you validate your emotions, you re-affirm confidence and your self-worth, and you maintain authenticity, which undeniably feels good all around.
Lastly, the people in your life who respect and honor your boundaries are those with good intentions and care for you.
Those who are unable or unwilling to respect your boundaries are likely individuals with poor intentions and a lack of respect. This can be a very difficult realization, but one that you will thank yourself for later.