By Marli Naidoo
Humility is a virtue, but when a person totally denies his or her own opinions and preferences to please other people, it can lead to depression and unhappiness.
This person probably was taught early in his life to be too accommodating and respectful. He feels it is rude and contemptuous to say what he wants. It is important for him to learn how to communicate effectively without coming over as either passive of aggressive. One brings this off by being honest about how you feel and what you want, while still being respectful. You therefore don’t have to respect other people only, you respect yourself as well.
It’s not always easy to speak up for what one wants. Others could make you feel bad, saying that you are selfish. You will also feel uneasy to voice your opinion and will be nervous. Perhaps you will expose your fears and insecurities and feel that they leave you vulnerable. All these things, however, are just temporary uneasiness. Over the long term you will reap and enjoy the fruits. Your self-image and self-respect will grow, you will be less anxious, and you will think less about what others think of you. Your human relations will also improve.
There are steps that you can take to teach yourself to be more outspoken.
First of all you must admit to yourself that you have a problem and want to change.
When you have to decide on a movie with a friend, make a hasty and unadvised choice without thinking about it too much and wondering what your friend will think of your choice. He will probably not agree with you and you will decide on something else together, but you are teaching yourself to learn how to be comfortable with making mistakes.
Look for those daily interactions where you can speak your mind. When you are seated at a table in a coffee shop or restaurant, ask for another table. Ask for a discount on an item in a shop. Ask somebody for small change, or directions.
Stop saying sorry where you have done nothing wrong.
Practise saying no. You may feel guilty afterwards and afraid that the other person will be unhappy. However, stick to your decision.
Stop trying to control other people’s emotions. You cannot always give in to keep other people happy. It is not your responsibility.
Imagine possible situations that could arise and practise your reaction. You can do it with a friend.
Do not be apologetic about what you want. Say what you want without explaining yourself. You have the right to an opinion and may express it. However, don’t be aggressive and do not try to express your opinion on everything. Learn to distinguish between what matters to you and what not.
Remember that your feelings of guilt and somebody else’s attempt to make you feel guilty do not mean that you are guilty. Guilt is the feeling you get when you have done something wrong, not when somebody says that you have done something wrong. When you feel guilty, ask yourself: did I really do something wrong? Practise getting used to the uneasiness of this feeling of guilt and to resist it when it crops up.
Nick Wignall: https://nickwignall.com/assertiveness/
Psych Central: https://psychcentral.com/blog/building-assertiveness-in-4-steps/
Positive Psychology: https://positivepsychology.com/assertiveness/