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How to Reduce Stress by Being More Assertive

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How to Reduce Stress by Being More Assertive

How to Reduce Stress by Being More Assertive

A post from our Stress Management blog

      Written by Riley Mitchell
Are you still dealing with too much stress despite trying nearly every approach in the book to remedy it?

Could your communication with others be one of the leading causes (or the lead cause) of your stress?

Do you find it difficult to truly express what you feel?

Do you feel guilty or anxious afterwards when behaving in a non-assertive way?

These are important questions to ask, because a lot of the stress and anxiety you're currently facing may be down to a non-assertive attitude.

Up Goes Assertiveness, Down Goes Stress

Now, because there are different causes of stress, there can be many different solutions to either reducing, eradicating or managing stress.

Some of those solutions look to provide temporary relief, while others look at long term of permanent solutions.

Two of the solutions that provide long term or permanent relief are actively managing your time better, and behaving in an assertive manner, which is the one that I'm going to focus on here.

You may actually find it surprising that something like a simple character trait like assertiveness can have a positive impact on your stress levels. But the reason that it's true is that the character trait is the very thing causing stress. Change the character trait, and the causes of stress can disappear, and you don't have to worry about "managing" them.

Being assertive is often seen by experts as a core communication skill. Because it means you have the ability to openly express what you truly feel and stand up for what you believe in, all the while being mindful of others' beliefs and rights.

But how does this tie in with lowering stress levels, you might ask? Well, let's have a look at how your behavior can actually be causing you stress, and then how changing your behavior removes the stress.

The Different Behavior Types

There are four main behavior types. Three are seen as negative/bad, and one is seen as positive/good.

The three negative behavior types are being passive, aggressive, and passive-aggressive.

Assertive behavior is the good one that you want.

How Being Passive Causes Stress

For one, passive people have a very hard time saying "no" – they tend to take on too many responsibilities, which can cause a lot of undue stress. They're generally too busy performing duties or tasks that others require, and are not focusing enough on ensuring their own wants and needs are met.

This can be both at work or in social/family situations. You may even be able to say "no" to some people, but not others. So I'm talking about people that act in a passive manner a good deal of the time.

Passive people also struggle to ask for help. You may find that friends, family members and colleagues would only be too glad to help, if they realized that you needed it. So by not asking, you're keeping all the work, and responsibility on yourself, and that causes stress for you.

How Being Aggressive Causes Stress

Consistently behaving in an aggressive manner has consequences. Firstly, it can make you unpleasant to be around, and aggressive people struggle to make many long-term friends, which most people worry about. Not having a support structure in your life is the cause of loads of stress.

Secondly, it brings you into conflict, and aggressive people tend not to handle conflict well, so there can be lots of fights and arguments. All of which cause stress.

Furthermore, conflict can cause problems at work, and then you have the stress that that causes, as you fret over losing your employment etc.

How Being Passive-Aggressive Causes Stress

Passive-aggressive people look like they're going along with things, only to resist in some subtle, hidden, and perhaps devious way.

They look you in the eye and agree with you, then go and gossip about you behind your back, or commit some act of sabotage.

Most of this "behind the back" behavior can leave them apprehensive about being caught, or if somebody confronts them about their inappropriate behavior, they end up in conflict. Both cause stress.

So whether you're passive or passive-aggressive, and looking to avoid conflict, you may have reduced the stress caused by the conflict, but you've caused it in another way.

So now let's look at assertive behavior.

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Lowering Stress – Why Assertive Behavior Totally Makes Sense

The very concept on which assertiveness is built revolves around mutual respect; it is a highly effective and diplomatic way of communicating with others.

The fact of the matter is, when you're assertive, you are demonstrating to others that you have profound respect for your own beliefs, thoughts, feelings and opinions – and that you are well aware of others' rights, beliefs and thoughts, and are willing to resolve conflicts, if need be.

You see, it's not what your underlying message is about, but rather how it is delivered – assertive communication is always direct and respectful, which is why assertive people get what they want more often, avoid what they see as situations that they don't want to be in, and seldom find themselves involved in conflict.

They have prevented all the situations that can cause them stress from happening in the first place.

It's been widely believed by experts and psychologists alike that stress squarely revolves around the ‘perception of not having adequate control' – assertiveness actually puts one in the driver's seat by increasing personal control. Without a doubt, being assertive is among the best ways to beating stress.

However, if you're the kind of person who has a tendency to communicate in a very passive or aggressive way, your underlying message will most certainly get lost, because the person you're communicating with will be too busy trying to react to your message. You've lost control.

If you take one thing from what I say, let it be this. Behaving assertively more will put you in control more, and that's what reduces stress.

See where this is going?

Less assertiveness... more complicated situations to deal with... more problems at the end of the day. And it's all on you! Or...

More assertiveness...more tricky situations avoided...more pleasure... less stress. It's like a domino, one falling triggers another.

So I hope that by now you're on board with me, you agree that you need to act assertively.

So what's the end result? You feel less stressed, and even if you do feel stress creeping in, you know how to counter it with assertive actions backed up by a positive attitude.

Want to Be More Assertive?

We have online courses with full 12-months' access.
RRP from $59 – limited time offer just $12.00

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