The Radical Gift of Asserting

Appreciating calmness is a useful skill. The more we go through life and face disappointments the more we will find ourselves in states of stress. Eradicating stress is not a possibility, but dealing with stress is. The only way to deal with stress is to face it head-on. Don’t ever think that you can avoid stress or distract yourself from it because it will come back to rear its nasty head in highly debilitating ways. When we push away stress we suppress what needs to be expressed. When we suppress our emotions we develop symptoms of depression and anxiety later on. We are often taught to keep emotions hidden and out-of-sight. We learn from an early age that we shouldn’t express unsavory emotions for fear of hurting others or for appearing unstable. We do ourselves a disservice when we lack assertiveness in stating what we feel because in our silence we miss opportunities to be engaged in the present moment with others.




People seek comfort over discomfort (obviously), yet the non sequitur to this logic is that it leads us to believe that all stress is bad and challenging and/or disruptive conversations do not lead to feelings of safety. The truth is that to find ourselves in a place of comfort we must be willing to do the “dirty” work that leads to a more salient type of safety; a safety that comes from communicating  the hard stuff. If you do not wish to go to a coffee with a friend, then tell that friend you do not want to go. Be honest and direct about where you’re at.



A familiar saying states “a ship is safe in the harbor but that’s not what ships are built for.” We are not built to avoid rough waters of emotions. As humans, we are capable of containing whatever feelings arise. And of course, in the context of relationships there are many rough waters to navigate. When we are not willing to participate in the friction of relationships, we dismiss our own capacity to repair ruptures. When we lack assertiveness for stating what we want, need and feel, we end up with superficial interactions that do not hold ourselves accountable for each others individual strengths and weaknesses. Showing up for another person with a commitment to being assertive, even when it’s challenging to do so, creates a vitality that exists when two people are willing to process what needs to be addressed. Even when it is time to end a relationship, a friendship and/or an acquaintance (for whatever reason), the more healthy way to terminate is to be assertive about the direction of where you see the relationship going.



Putting into practice an intention of assertiveness allows for our relationships to become more deeply held. Start practicing being present in challenging moments with others by trusting your voice and informing the other of where you’re at and where you’d like to see the relationship go.  This is what it means to live in a “wholehearted” way. We inform and assert ourselves because we hold each individual as sacred, even if they no longer going to continue being a major part of our life. Developing an ability to assert is the connecting glue that can foster deeper relationships with others and with the self. In avoiding this direct type of contact we miss out on opportunities to be witnessed and to witness others. There’s a healthy calm between two people that can freely state what they are feeling. Attention to stating those wants and desires is what makes us more human.