Imagine two people in an argument. You can see them but you can’t hear their words. One is animatedly gesturing, appears to be yelling, and is making severe facial expressions. The other person has relaxed facial features, and appears to be calmly speaking in a normal voice when it is her turn.
The first person is losing the argument.
When we feel frustrated, hopeless, unheard, unimportant, and desperate, we think that it will help if we speak louder, meaner, harder, faster, and more. And when we feel powerful, heard, certain in our truth, our feelings, our desires, we can speak in a Quietly Powerful way, and other people are able to hear it without needing to defend, without feeling attacked. We speak our truth. Attack-lessness. Defense-lessness. Just the truth.
We use “I” statements, telling calmly how “I” feel, not accusatory “You” statements which illicit defense from the other person. We quietly powerfully tell the other what it is that hurts us or makes us angry.
“I feel hurt when…”
“I don’t like it when…”
“I want you to stop…”
“I feel angry that…”
And we offer alternatives.
“I would like it if you…”
“I want you to …”
“I want to…”
If we are attacked, we know our individual rights as human beings and feel able to calmly discuss our disagreements, knowing we are quite capable of protecting ourselves from harm in any way.
I cannot stress the importance of reading and re-reading a good assertiveness training book. It is one of the first steps in recovery from abusive relationships. Know your rights as healthy women and men.
Be assertive. That means you know yourself, understand your needs, and speak up, so sometimes you get what you want, and sometimes you get your own way. Take your own inventory. Know your likes and dislikes. Never say “I don’t care” if someone asks what you’d like for dinner. Make something up. Start to care. Have an opinion, but don’t be opinionated. Express yourself, your desires, and preferences. Assertive behavior means freedom and entitlement.
Mostly, what we are trying to learn is simple kindness. Respect, courtesy, tactfulness, gentleness. Practicing kindness in all our encounters adds sweetness to our lives. And if we do it at home, we will find new meaning in old relationships. If we can grow and change in just one way, let it be in becoming kinder. It embodies all of the traits we need in order to live a happy, successful, and fully self-actualized life.
Remember, K.I.S.S. means Kindness Is So Simple.
(excerpt from “The Psychotherapy Workbook.”)
LIFE GOES ON©
Kathleen Cairns, Psy.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice in West Hartford, Connecticut. She works with adults, adolescents, and couples. You may call her at 860-236-5555 to make an appointment. She is the author of “The Psychotherapy Workbook.” You may email her at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will try to answer as many of your questions as possible.
Life goes on… and every day matters…