Assertiveness - You’ve heard the word and some soul’s understanding of it, but do you have a firm, functional grasp on this communication style? For that matter, why is this social skill so important for your particular life? Is it really such a cure-all for your relationships’ problems? Let us begin by describing its extreme counterparts (passivity and aggression), and work on conveying the functionality of assertiveness as a final point.
Passivity is when you decline to assert your valid needs, concerns, and emotions which have apparently stemmed from another’s words or actions. In deciding not to “make a fuss,” you are perhaps taking the most selfless and cautious approach, yet letting problems fester without curative action.
Aggression is when you let an agitated emotion and learned behavior get the better of you, and perhaps you try to get your needs met by expressing hurtful words and actions in response to what, for you, is another’s problematic behavior. Why doesn’t this work? Well, it destroys relationships and drives people away, encouraging further conflict, when there is almost always a more effective solution to your social stressor – like assertiveness.
Assertiveness is the act of expressing your apparently unseen or disregarded emotions and needs in a manner which is nonjudgmental of your conflict’s counterpart. The method works by giving a caring soul a conscientious reason to change or correct a dysfunctional behavior and heal the rift created by the problematic word(s) and/or act(s). Passivity doesn’t express your needs, and aggression just creates more conflict, but assertiveness helps to ground the exchange in a firm, rational tone, allowing the other soul to caringly change without the compulsion to rebel or ignore others’ needs.
A Final Word – Even Assertiveness isn’t foolproof; some don’t care, and anger can be almost impossible to separate from an attempt at assertiveness, causing the problems usually associated with aggression – escalated tensions and reactive indignation. Yet, it is a vital skill for healthy relationships. While it may not always work, especially as you are just starting to learn to use it effectively, it is usually your best bet at encouraging a solution which works for all concerned.
Competent Confidence and Radical Acceptance
“Unacceptable” realities of situation and event may glare distractingly in one’s mind, for better or worse. One who’s fixated in such a negative way may confront such problems with learned Competence and Confidence. One may, contrastingly, despair in “learned helplessness,” a hopeless “victim of circumstance” who’s yet to learn the path to perseverance in the effort of achieving success or summoning and sustaining a deep acceptance of even apparently tragic life.
Radical Acceptance is one perspective or “tool” which one may add to his or her “coping arsenal;” I define it as: “Extending one’s peace of mind to the limits of grace,” past which one cannot help but to react in some way, I do, of course, acknowledge. This world doesn’t use “kid gloves,” so one must, for success as a being of serenity, either work to fix what’s wrong or “come to terms with it” – hence, the concept of Radical Acceptance, which, I submit, alleviates the negative emotions of life’s stressors through mindfulness of this often pragmatically healthy perspective.
I present these points of view in the hope of encouraging my audience to think about personally effective living in a new light. While all of this takes practice, I feel that, with a positive mindset, the essential skills of life which I present are worth the time and frustration endured for the sake of a better, happier future.
We all have basic freedom of thought, speech, and action, though with this freedom come consequences for others and those imposed upon us by the world in which we participate. Acceptance of this reality is a basic acknowledgement of responsibility for one’s expressions of self.
Law is a system of balancing what may be called “Freedom From” and “Freedom To.” “The freedom to extend your fist,” as they say, “ends where my nose begins.” This expresses the basic social contract of Mutual Nonviolence, which intuitively keeps the peace amongst those good souls who are driven by their desire for peace, love, and harmony, rather than these states’ opposites – excitement, contempt, and horror – vices from which violence may arise.
So, other than a soul’s healthy drive for peace, love, and harmony, what reason is there to care about one’s fellow man? Can one understand the fundamental logic of morality at a deeper level and mature accordingly? Consider the following: One is not alone in life, but co-exists with other souls. This is ethically significant, in that it is not only oneself who matters, but others, as well, whose perspectives make sense to them, just as mine makes sense to me, compelling our respective actions in comparable ways, with universal emotions, or “action energies,” which one cannot avoid experiencing.
Moral criticism rarely walks in others’ shoes enough to see the inescapable process of one’s consciousness and forgive it as such. This is not to say that we are not always learning, changing, growing more mindful of our choices. It is simply an acknowledgment of our common humanity, in an attempt to establish the validity of the notion of Universal Worth, which may be seen to increase through one’s caring and suffering, yet, conversely, cannot be extinguished. Perhaps Jesus of Nazareth understood this “universal worth” when he taught his pupils to love the sinner yet hate the sin. One feels the tragedy of evil but keeps the love which one may learn to see as morally right, from a certain ethical perspective.
Of course, evil must be dealt with, for the closure of those affected, as well as for the prevention of future crime. Without ethical consideration for the presumed criminal, however, further tragedy is enacted in the form of the suffering of the wayward soul whom society so prevalently demonizes. Clearly, a balance must me struck between resolute righteousness and caring compassion, as well as between the societal efficacy of law and one’s ideals of forgiveness and empathy for even the selfish and violent.
For those who may not be so open-hearted and accepting in their views of those whose hearts lack basic human warmth, I acknowledge that such views are arguably just as valid as those I advocate earlier in this essay. A being in pain, however, is a horror to be concerned about as an ethical being, I feel, despite that being’s sins.
“Softies and The Hard of Heart”
Soft Power is the influence one has over others through one’s good-natured, personable charisma.
Hard Power is the influence one has over others through violence and intimidation.
One of these fosters healthy relationships and emotional climate, and the other destroys such social essentials. One inspires emulation and respect of goodness, while the other incites rebellion and fear of authoritarian badness. One builds up compassionate “softies” who think the best of people, and the other instills a hard heart which is jaded to a cynicism regarding others. How one meets and treats the world decides that soul’s “ripple” in life. Which life would you wish to have? Who you are is an ongoing, mindful decision, my friend.
“Conditioning, Conformity, and Conscience”
There are three basic reasons why a social being refrains from hurting those around him or her when he or she realizes that a behavior being considered may cause harm:
- Conditioning affects one’s sense of consequences through the behavioral associations of reward and punishment.
- Conformity affects one’s sense of consequences through fear of rejection, playing on one’s desire to belong.
- Conscience affects one’s sense of consequences through a basic caring for those one holds in high esteem.
The implications of these insights amount to wisdom for the behavioral corrections of any who are mature enough to be affected by the attempted induction of these modifiers of thought, speech and action.
“Insights on Negative Esteem”
Shame has to do with what others think of you.
Guilt has to do with how you feel about yourself.
Self-Doubt allows the conversion of Shame to Guilt.
Self-Assurance allows one to battle both Shame and Guilt.
Along this line of thought, perhaps one functional purpose of Introspection is to come to a deeper understanding of oneself, thus empowering one’s Assertiveness with personal insight and conversely enabling Apologetic Maturity with the informed closure of defensiveness and an honest acknowledgement of responsibility for one’s mindset, words, and acts. Healthy, balanced self-esteem comes along with this maturity, as well as with a mindfulness of personal success or failure grounded in the honest acknowledgement of one’s propensity to care.
Being aware of the common tragedy of cynical misunderstanding – and thereby keeping an open mind about other beings’ hearts of intent – may help one to escape such dysfunction. Having the experience-conditioned presence of mind to under-react and grant others the benefit of the doubt when one is incensed by the quick conclusions so easy attained by so many souls, may be an essential first step in the effort to develop more accurate and humanizing perspectives regarding others.
Simply recognizing the common occurrence of such misunderstanding, in conjunction with one’s basic drive to find success in life, fosters a natural, mindful vigilance and primes the evolving competence and confidence necessary to engage in the vital process of clearing up the tragic disconnects between us all – a process characterized by simply explaining one’s personal perspective more clearly or inviting another to do the same.
The prize, of course, is a stronger relationship and more healthy harmony – the highest pleasure native to human souls, I have concluded over the years. That it is within our respective potentials to succeed in this most existentially important endeavor, may grant an unfulfilled soul the hope to persevere through life’s hard knocks, with the healthy goal of building stronger bonds between oneself and those who come into the context of one’s life .
I now return my primary point to reinforce its apparent wisdom – that mere mindfulness of misunderstanding is all which one needs to begin to transcend one’s dysfunctional limitations and build healthier relationships with one’s peers.
Suffering and Happiness
What is the point of all of my suffering?
- To Learn Effective Ways to Cope
- To Learn to Relate with Others’ Suffering
- To Develop a Deeper, More Profound Soul
- To Earn Higher Worth, Known to Self and God
- To Develop a Deeper Appreciation of Well-Being
- To Accumulate a Broader Range of Life Experience
How may I better adapt to such challenges?
- Awareness of Emotions and their Causal Thoughts and Cares
- Awareness of What Makes Me Happy in the Short- and Long-Term
- Awareness of My Direction and Where I Want to Go in Life
What are the basic forms of well-being?
- Peace – From An Absence of Fear
- Love – From An Absence of Hate
- Joy – From An Absence of Sadness
- A Good Laugh – The Appreciation of Absurdity
- A Good Cry – Immersion in the Profound
- A Good Romance – Intimate or Feral
- A Good Fight – Playful or Serious
- A Good Run – Exercise or Excitingly Life-Sustaining
- Disinhibition – Feeling Loose and Free
- Success – Meeting Goals and Satisfying Cares
How may I get and stay happy?
- Simply Let Go of Negativity
- Happiness Is Our Natural State
I begin with a brief exposition on the Temperament / Temperature metaphor, as follows:
- Cold – not capable of pro-social, caring emotion (“cold-hearted”/antisocial)
- Cool – between cold and warm; under-reactive to life, yet potentially caring
- Warm – between cool and hot; socially caring, open, and nonjudgmental
- Hot – hyper-caring, with heightened pro-social emotions (incl. anger)
I would submit that each temperament is movement-fluid with adjacent temperaments.
I would also submit that level of conscience rises with the “heat” level of the individual.
Emotional Climate is a phrase of metaphor which one may use to describe the tone which a leader sets for those within the sphere-of-influence of said soul’s domain of control. This effect may be brought on by the openness and suggestibility of those within earshot, heightened by the leader’s likeability, as these affected souls internalize the logical and emotional content of the leader’s speech, action, and body language. Conversely, this effect may be a reactive disparity with the leader, due to differences in temperament, which helps to decide a leader’s subjective charisma for potential followers or those finding rebellion or reservation to be more adaptive for themselves and those they may care about in life.
The Social Ripple, or the effect of an individual’s temperament in the social sphere, is a function of his or her desire and ability to do good or bad things to others. One cannot help but to have a “ripple” in life – none of us live in a complete vacuum – and one’s social reception and temperament-of-care may snowball in a sort of feedback loop, based on the category which influential individuals put one in and the all-important, ever-present decision of how one chooses to act in life.
Personal Meaning (the profound and positive emotion which one gleans from success) may hinge upon the harmony (or lack thereof), which one may (or may not) find with others, dependent upon synergy of temperament and the greater societal reception which one may receive – anything from awards-of-merit to sentences-of-incarceration. Being around likeminded people is crucial for one’s openness and sense of social inclusion, and so I submit that any soul’s fulfillment relies on the health of one’s relationships – which only truly arises from a mutually recognized concord of basic personal temperament.
The Cure for Addiction
What is the natural, grounded cure for addiction? Please follow along as I explain what I feel is healthy insight, and you may feel, or later find, that you have an adequate, functional answer to this crucial question which one must answer well, to grow the vital values and working wisdom necessary for personal success.
In this spirit, please consider who, I submit, almost all of us are, beneath our thought constructs and self-limiting identities – naturally social souls attuned to a reality which, for many, no longer exists. I call this reality “social harmony” and suggest that, in its absence, one feels a sense of dissatisfaction with life, so essential is it to one’s sense of well-being.
How do we end up coping with this frustrated and inadequately understood drive? Many, I submit, become fixated on addictive mirages of happiness, like money, drugs, and power – illusions which many influential elements in society present as integral to a fulfilled, successful life.
However, while these fixations, once attained, may grant temporary satisfaction or relief from a nagging desire, it is my experience that only social harmony is adequate to grant stable well-being – a finding which I dare to hope is, upon reflection, shared by my audience.
In the process of shedding the mirage-fixations of depravity and addiction, one must, I feel, re-focus one’s values insightfully, confronting dysfunctional urges with mindfulness of the tragic, cyclical nature of displaced-desire-depravity and what natural alternative is healthy and sustainable for our souls.