A Lesson in Assertiveness — from the Student

Reader Contribution by Liberty V Justice
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I’ve always had problems sticking up for myself in a healthy way. I was taught to feel guilty if I had a need, because other people were important and I wasn’t. I know now that that is not true, and that we all have the same amount of value in God’s eyes. I’ve been subjecting myself to more and more opportunities for growth in this area. This is called “exposure therapy” — the more I do something, the better I become at it. (Mostly it’s dealing with crowds and forming relationships.)

I hate having fear in my body. I need to have the freedom to express my needs without the fear of retaliation, abuse, or rejection. I finally realized that I often mistake good feelings — like excitement or anticipation — for fear. When I am operating in fear instead of love, I’m living a lie. If I am letting fear keep me stuck in the mud of mediocrity, I am not loving myself. It’s not like me to become complacent. To become more successful in life, I have found I must speak up for myself and have my needs met. If there is an injustice against me, I need to trust myself. That means knowing that I can operate out of love and not hurt the other person, while still being assertive and speaking up for myself. Besides, if I don’t speak up for myself, how can I do it for others?

I must become better at being assertive so I can show others like me how to do it. To get myself in a better mindset for these types of confrontations, I simply calm down, breathe, and say, “Lord, let me show love.” I also remind myself that I can speak up against injustice without causing injustice to others. They’re human too, and everyone makes mistakes, but whether they did something to hurt me or not, they haven’t always done it on purpose. Sometimes, it’s not about me.

For example, I had a hotel room recently. It was filthy! I won’t tell you where it was, or any details (that would not be love) but I was very unhappy! I said, “There’s no sense in me suffering silently, but I don’t have to be mean and make the manager and staff suffer, either. Lord, help me to be loving.”

I had a general idea of what I would say. I walked into the lobby, and the manager wasn’t there; the employee at the desk said they could help me. I asked if they could give me a new room, because mine was stinky. First, though, I said “What’s your name?” Then I introduced myself. I made sure my volume was low, I smiled, and I didn’t blame the employee. I also said, “I thank you for trying to help me. I’ll tell the manager how good you were to me.” When they said there were no rooms left but that they’d clean mine for me, I said, “Thanks so much! I’ll pray for you.”

They thanked me and gave me nice compliments, and the other employee who helped me confirmed what I was thinking: “We need to do things the way we’d want them for ourselves.” It’s what I had just told the employee who was at the desk, and how I tried to treat that employee when we spoke.

As long as I treat each person as they are valuable and important, the outcome is often better than I expect (even if I don’t see it right away). If nothing else, I feel great about conquering myself — again!

Photo by Fotolia/Kadmy

Liberty V Justice —
No period in my “V” because my victories never end and yours don’t have to either my friends!

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