In Article 2: Follow Your Intuition of the Developing Assertiveness series, I talked about finding your path by following your heart. To be assertive, we need to find space so that we can get in touch with our values and inner strength. It is a process that requires being alone and finding the support of people who can help. This story is about how I learnt to be assertive.
Step 1: Accept What You Fear
In 2013 I decided it was no longer healthy to stay in my father’s business. Having left the enterprise without having a job lined up was a monumental step for me. I felt free at first, but then I was confronted with the question of ‘What next?’ I had no money, no job and nothing I can bank on. I also broke up with my girlfriend.
It felt like life had just crushed me. In my darkest hour, I had experienced losing everything. I was facing that which I was trying to avoid. Although it was painful, once I faced it I kind of lost the fear of life crashing down. Not only did I survive but the crash spawned a new life. Accepting what I was afraid of put me in a position of strength.
Step 2: Build A Support Network
As I had no work and no partner, I started spending more time alone. In the midst of being scared and sad, I started to connect to what I enjoyed doing or not. I started to see what music I liked, what events I enjoyed and I even started going on dates with myself. Being alone helped me understand what is important to me and not.
Being alone helped me realise that I cannot fix everything myself. I started to build a support network of people who I could talk to and rely on support. I involved God, I started to make new friends and I started going to therapy. Being alone helped me understand who I am, and the support network helped me build relationship skills.
Step 3: Build Confidence
During that time I started looking into personal development and spirituality as tools to be assertive. When I came to choose a therapist, I was scared that s/he would shun these. Through a set of miracles or coincidences, I found a therapist who was into spirituality. With her, I started a journey of facing my anxieties, challenge my beliefs and accepting who I was.
My self-esteem shot up as I stopped trying to be like others and worked out how to be more of who I am. By becoming clear on what I want in life and what I don’t, I started doing more of what I like and less of what I didn’t. This process helped me find the strength to be able to say yes and no when I need to. Assertiveness came naturally to me once I understood my values and built my self-esteem.