Saturday, October 31, 2009

Stressless Saturday


I was listening to an audio recording of a seminar on women in leadership today. The woman speaker said that as a child her mother often called her the ”b” word…bossy. Today many assertive, take charge, confident women are called another “b” word that is designed to “put them in their place.” The assertiveness that is never questioned in men (who are supposed to take charge) is not looked on favorably in women. Because we, as women, often have to put our natural leadership skills aside to play well with others, we sometimes give up our basic human rights. When I pull out the following list of rights and go over it with some of my female clients I can see their anxiety level rising. Sometimes they just can’t see themselves demanding fair treatment, and sometimes they just never realized that they could!

As a counselor I often tell clients that we teach people how to treat us. By standing up for our rights we show we respect ourselves and usually get respect from others. Sacrificing our rights usually results in teaching people to treat us badly.

I have the right to change my mind…about anything.
I have the right to make mistakes.
I have the right to be listened to and taken seriously.
I have the right to ask for what I want.
I have the right to think before I answer.
I have the right to say “That is unacceptable behavior…if you continue there will be consequences.”
I have the right to impose consequences on unacceptable behavior.
I have the right to feel angry (and any other emotion) as long as I don’t hurt others with my anger.
I have the right to make my own decisions, even when others don’t agree.
I have the right to ask for information.
I have the right to be left alone when I want to be left alone.
I have the right to say NO without feeling guilty.
I have the right to ignore the advice of others.

So, did you feel your anxiety level rising? Do you believe that these are rights that every human being has? If not, who told you that you didn’t have these rights? What happens when you try to assert yourself? If these rights are unfamiliar to you, start small. Begin by being assertive with a stranger in a non-threatening situation like asking your waitress to substitute something on the menu. Assertiveness is like a muscle. The more we use it, the better we get.

No comments: