Read Time: 6 Minutes
Recently, I heard about the idea of selecting a “word of the year” as a way of defining and outlining how one would like their year to go. I’ve decided to take part in that trend too and discuss my word of the year I’ve chosen today. This word is something I whole-heartedly believe I could stand to benefit from.
For as long as I’ve known myself (which is a pretty long time), I’ve considered myself to be a relatively nice person. “Relatively” allowing for some wiggle room for the times I acted out to my mum and turned into any number of things when interacting with friends (a diva, Godzilla, bossy pants, you name it). The beauty of getting older is recognizing that my loved ones will act this way at some point in life, too (I can hear my mum now: “Who me?”), and that we are all human (as cliché as that sounds).
In some instances, however, I can be too nice, to the point I feel myself becoming a bit of a pushover. Whether it’s apologizing to someone who bumps into me as I pass them in the hallway, or not being aggressive enough whilst driving on the highway (sometimes you just gotta’ be). Or not unfriending someone on Facebook I don’t even like, for fear of the repercussions of what they may think (despite not having seen them in three years...).
This “too nice” trait can also include caving too easily or quickly when someone criticizes something I do, or feeling guilty when I make a decision with an outcome in my best interest (heaven forbid, I stop thinking about the wants and needs of others and think about my wants and needs).
I recognize that we’re still in a pandemic. In some instances, I may have to put aside what I want and need for the greater good (like whether I choose to wear a mask when I go somewhere – it’s non-negotiable). It’s also important to treat others with kindness; you don’t know what is going on in someone’s personal life or what they may have experienced, that influences them to act or interact with you in a certain way.
With that being said, my word for this year is assertive.
My idea of being assertive is to remain polite and friendly, but establish a sort of dominance in terms of my wants and needs being met and standing by what I believe in.
Being assertive is also a trait that brings with it an added boost of confidence. To be assertive, means having some level of confidence in your ability to stand up and assert yourself, not rudely, but firmly.
I believe incorporating an assertive attitude and mindset will also improve my confidence. I, like many folks, fluctuate in my self-esteem levels. I have felt at times, due to the other traits I possess, that I don’t really “qualify” as someone who should have low self-esteem, or perhaps that it’s not warranted. That’s primarily because I take into consideration how others perceive me to have low self-esteem and what they think about that.
Part of my strategy for incorporating my word of the year is to repeat positive affirmations to myself related to being assertive and confident. If you repeat something to yourself enough, it eventually sticks (and forms a habit!) and you eventually come to believe it (so I’ve heard). I’ve got nothing to lose and a full year ahead of me to give it a go, so why not?
In previous instances amidst a stroke of assertiveness, or even being confident in decisions i’ve made, i’ve found myself feeling guilty for doing something in that moment, I felt was best for me.
Isn’t that like … actually insane? Let me repeat that.
I feel guilty when I am assertive in making decisions that are in my best interest and/or meet my wants and needs.
It’s entirely possible to live your life in the comfort zone for fear of offending someone, but not living to your full potential and truly aligning yourself with what you want, think and believe is an act of self-suffocation. You are stifling who you were meant to be.
You also can’t live your life making decisions, and being assertive in a way that meets your wants and needs, then proceed to feel guilty for doing what’s best for you. You will turn into a stress-ridden, nervous wreck (our bodies manifest stress in strange ways).
Someone who truly loves you and cares for you, while perhaps may be initially offended by a decision you make thanks in part to your newfound assertiveness and confidence, a good majority of the time will come around and see you were doing what was best for you.
The offense of someone who is not a loved one, a friend, or a partner isn’t something I believe you should take into hard consideration nor incorporate into your realm. If this person who is offended is not in your “inner circle”, nor is someone you would seek out on any given day for advice, then I encourage you to take their offense more lightly. We can be polite and friendly and courteous when existing in society, but it’s important to let the offenses of strangers roll off our backs easier than those close to us. Simply put, they don’t matter nearly as much.
Look, I care about other people. I never wake up in the morning with a keen intent to offend, or cause harm or injury. I don’t think any of us do, or most of us at least.
I care about other people. But it’s about time I cared about me a little more.
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