For all those who need some help asserting their own wishes and needs.
- Identify your agenda: Ask yourself: “what is it that I really want in this situation?” (be honest!)
- Give yourself permission to go after it: Its OK for you to want something or to have a need, even if others want or need something else. Your need is important too. Ask yourself if it feels like you have permission to want it.
- Give yourself time: Don’t just “give-in” because someone is being persuasive or because you’re in the habit of deferring. You can say “I really need to think about that” or “we need to discuss it”.
- Say what you want: Let yourself say it, don’t assume others know. In a relationship or friendship also say why and what your feeling about it.
- Make sure you’ve been heard: “I want to make sure you’ve understood my point of view, can you tell me what you heard?” Get the other person to reflect it back and if they get it wrong tell them. Keep doing this until you’ve been heard correctly.
- Don’t accept having your thought dismissed: That’s just bad behavior and you can call them on it: “that sounds dismissive” or “you’re being dismissive”, or “it’s not OK to just dismiss my point of view”.
- Beware of manipulation: We don’t always get your way in life but we can require others to negotiate in an honest way – don’t accept emotional blackmail or manipulation – even if you have in the past. Call them on it – “I feel like you’re manipulating me”.
- Know your fears: ask yourself what is it you’re fearing that’s holding you back from going after this thing. What are you afraid will happen if you get your way?
- Do a priority check-up: if you are allowing someone else’s needs to have priority over yours ask yourself if that is really what you want and if its appropriate in this situation.
- Do the best friend check: if your best friend described the situation to you, what would you want him/her to do? Think about this one!
by Ami B. Kaplan, LCSW,
Psychotherapy and Psyoanalysis, New York City