Today at work I hosted a webinar for professionals who work in the non-profit sector. It was an interesting hour filled with a hardy discussion on what assertiveness is and how to improve our own self assertiveness. Apparently, it is not a personality trait but rather a learned skill that can be developed over time. The two reoccurring themes were the things that hold you back from being assertive and what helps you to be assertive.
As I paused for questions or clarification from my clients, I couldn’t help but reminisce about my own life. I suppose a certain level of assertiveness is also needed on my end to allow you my readers to peer into the depths of my soul. The speaker asked the group of thousands what are the reasons we don’t end up speaking up for ourselves. For some, it was that they were too afraid to speak their mind, they were ashamed, they didn’t feel qualified, Imposter Syndrome, they had guilt, or were afraid that by speaking up that it’s synonymous with being aggressive.
I laughed inwardly as not to alert my clients to the fact that I might be laughing at them. Obviously I am not. But the idiocracy of decades of women being… for lack of a better word… intentionally swayed away from sharing their opinions- these latent ideas still hold fast through upbringing, or negative experiences that have caused us to withdraw internally instead of sharing our ideas. The cringe worthiness of this entire scenario makes me overtly intentional about speaking life, truth, courage and boldness into my daughters. I speak this over my son, and also encourage him to not talk loudly over his sisters. If you know anything about my babies, you’ll know that’s often not the case as I am currently raising some STRONG independent lil ladies- bey style.
Have there been times in your life when you didn’t speak up when you know you should have? While I am often shaking in my boots to share anything deeply personal, I feel that when I share my story of leaving an abusive marriage, I am able to give life and freedom to that part of me who shrunk. She was small. She didn’t talk about her interests or her opinions. She had self esteem and fat shaming issues. She didn’t embrace her gigantic laugh she is famous for. She socially withdrew. She didn’t play the piano. She didn’t
engage in things that were important to her. She was afraid. As someone eloquently stated, “I was a shadow of myself.” These missed opportunities became a daily occurrence. There was no assertiveness. This lasted for years.
So what does this have to do with you at work, on your couch in your pj’s watching something binge-worthy, or reading on the train on the way to somewhere delightful? Because in contrast, the act of leaving my marriage allowed me to be free. The speaker from the webinar asked how we are able to be assertive; for me, this came in the form of phenomenal girlfriends, or “Lana’s Lady Squad of Awesomeness” snapping necks and cashing cheques circa 1999. They were strong for me when I couldn’t be. When I needed to talk to the good ole ex husband, my girlfriends surrounded me with love, support, chocolate and sometimes wine. Mostly wine.
I am learning to rely on my own strength. I am learning when I give myself permission to be strong, I am “giving others permission to do the same” in the words of Marianne Williamson.
Today, I am giving you permission to let go of what your dad or your mama did in the past. (see epic Eric Thomas video of this). Be strong. Be courageous at your job. Have the courage to put boundaries in place with your children as they do NOT need everything they ask for. You are the most
important person today. Your self-care is important. Your opinions are important. YOU are important.