In Article 1: Developing Assertiveness, I talked about being responsible for our assertiveness. In my 20s I decided to find and follow my own path, even if it was different from that of my parents. This led me to embark on a treacherous journey that shaped me into who I am today and led me to have the strength to be assertive.
Step 1: Find Your Own Path
In the early 2000s up till today, our society started to see the loss of faith in the big authorities. First people lost faith in the church and then in politics. We are currently seeing a loss of faith in our education and economic system as they are being blamed for our unhealthy and unsustainable society.
Society, like an adolescent, moving away from its authoritarian parents. Parents usually dread adolescence as it threatens their image of what their child should be. Whether society or yourself, realising that moving away from your biological and societal parents, so that you can find your own path, is critical for developing assertiveness.
Step 2: Stop Seeing Authority As Something Bigger Than You
When I finished school, I didn’t go to work because I feared the world. As my father was building his enterprise, I started to work with him. Although it didn’t work that I enjoyed, I learned many things. Here I got to know my father as a normal human being.
The way I saw my father transitioned from an authority figure (bigger than me) to someone just like me. I started asking ‘Why should I listen to him if he is just like me?’ Here I realised that people in any authority are not bigger than us. When we stop seeing people bigger than us, assertiveness becomes much easier.
Step 3: Build Interpersonal Skills
At one point, my father was taking decisions that could get him and my family in trouble. I believed, with all my heart, that things needed to change. With the love of my family as my shield, I took my stand against my father. My father resisted. Ill-equipped and lacking skill, I moved from a passive victim into being aggressive in my approach.
This led to everyone in the family turning against me. I succeeded in my goal but being aggressive landed me in the loneliest place in my life. That journey taught me that assertiveness is about having the courage to follow your heart and the relationship skills to smoothen the process with everyone around you.