Compassionate assertiveness feels like a contradiction, but it’s not. It’s wholly possible to have both of these at once – maybe even simultaneously. In fact, it’s not only possible, but I propose that assertiveness is compassionate by design.
Many people do not highlight it, but assertive communication is threaded with harmony and a harmonious value. The communication style calls for the hearing of both sides of an argument, both points of view, and equality of expression. It derives its greatest success from compromise, understanding, and being fully heard.
It is key to understand that the compassion comes from within you while the assertiveness is the outward manifestation of it. When you put them together, you get a compassionate communicator.
As you know, my work is to help you understand how to bridge these two seemingly opposite ways of being and bring them into alignment with one another so that you can express yourself and your ideas in the highest way possible.
The only way to do that is to fully understand your existing relationship with compassion and how you feel about assertiveness – is it actually predominantly passive the way you approach things, people and situations? Or is it aggressive? Or are you typically passive aggressive? Are you a compassionate person overall today or is this something you could maybe cultivate a little more?
To start to understand how you exist in compassion and what that looks/feel like to you, we can look at your “compassion settings” as they relate to the 3 P’s:
Permission to say “no”
I’m pretty sure most people know they have a “right” to say no, that “no” is a complete sentence, and that saying “no” isn’t popular (thanks to Pinterest), but I wonder how many of you understand the “why” behind the permission you have. Do you fully “get” why you have permission to say no to the event, the gathering, the commitment, someone’s program, picking someone up from the airport on the shortest notice possible, etc?
You know me – I’m going to tell you there is a deeper layer. And there is…
Permission to say no is rooted in self-compassion. If you don’t love yourself and have a deep desire to honor the crux of your values, then saying “no” can and will be very difficult in every situation – you will continue to be passive when you don’t want to. You’ll default to people pleasing and others-centric decisions at all times.
Is there something wrong w/ others-centric decisions? Absolutely not! That’s how we show love, but if that’s all we do, what happens to the compassion for ourselves that ultimately grants us the very permission we’re seeking? It’s grossly diminished.
This is what I’ve seen with creatively expressive people – especially introverts. They get stuck between the compassion for themselves and the communication that’s needed to convey it, and it feels like a suffocation of what their truest self really wants.
It is hard to convey something you aren’t sure about. That includes compassion for yourself. If you are super hard and perfectionistic on yourself, you are cultivating ground that contradicts compassion and that is what is going to come out – it will continue to manifest as passivity instead of assertiveness.
The more compassion you exercise within your values, the more you can honor and assert yourself toward those values.
Prerogative to make decisions that aren’t popular
Ah, decisions. Often, the impetus for acceptance in a cultural circle of friends or co-workers, family members or social media followers.
Making decisions that aren’t popular go hand-in-hand with saying no in many cases, but not always. And you guessed it! Making unpopular decisions also finds itself rooted in self-compassion.
We’re taking it a step further here though – we’re not just looking at saying “no” – we might actually do something beyond the “no”. [Gasp]
For me, this looked like shopping at Whole Foods in the midst of being somewhat made fun of for doing it because I wanted to eat better and organic and that honors my values. You don’t have to like it – I love you the same.
If you’re an entrepreneur, maybe it’s having a business model other people look at and think is a joke or isn’t the “way” it should be done.
If you’re a writer, maybe you decide to self-publish instead of goin’ to the big house.
This takes saying no to a whole ‘notha level. It says no then does what it knows to do, without apology.
Decisions are continuous, and you don’t always know when you’re making them. Many of them are subconscious.
Can I give you some wisdom?
Don’t get so focused on each and every single decision – each and every step. Focus on a set of decisions that carry you through your values on a daily basis. If you are a spiritual person like me, you may want to adopt the mindset that you don’t have to shoulder every decision set alone – asking for guidance and believing you have help is a huge burden lifted.
Even if you are someone who doesn’t ask God for guidance in your decisions – that, in and of itself, is a decision. And you are still listening to someone – no one makes decisions in complete isolation.
The deeper your roots go in asking for guidance, the more fluid making unpopular decisions will be. And the more you do this, the more like water it becomes.
[gdlr_divider type=”thick” size=”100%” color=”#000000″ ]
Potential to possess more than what you’re accustomed to/establish a new normal
I didn’t realize these 3 P’s were progressive when I wrote them down & started to write, but they are. I can clearly see that now.
Learning to say no is the first step. Learning to go beyond saying no to making decisions based on the truth of why you said no is a whole different level. By the time that becomes a part of how you live your life (assertively), you’re poised to possess more than you ever dreamed possible for yourself.
Compassion has been rooted.
I firmly believe that most of what we say we actually want deep down in our lives doesn’t come to pass because of us. I also believe the thoughts that keep us away from it are attached to fear. Like Marianne Williamson said…
[gdlr_quote align=”center” ]Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. — Marianne Williamson[/gdlr_quote]
As you learn more about what compassion within you looks like, you will start to see how it integrates with and expresses itself through the external decisions you are making. There will be no question that you are changing, embracing your own light and establishing a new normal.
Thank you for reading.
If you have any thoughts, please share them in the comments.