Two levels of assertion training

This is the kind of thing you usually get in assertiveness training workshops

ASSERTIVENESS is a simple, brief, encounter.  No party wins or loses.

You express your real feelings, opinions, beliefs.

You stand up for your rights, showing respect for yourself and the other person.   You do not try to be “too nice” (which diminishes respect).

You do not come on “too strong” (which gets short-term results, but long-term sabotage).

You combine strength and sensitivity.

This take some courage at first.  It improves with practice.  It is advisable to practise in non-threatening or low-risk situations at first.

AFTER ASSERTING YOURSELF you walk away, relaxed and contented.  The issue is despatched.

You’ve put your point of view clearly and without malice.

You are confident that you can handle any consequences in a straight, direct, assertive way..

ASSERTIVENESS CAN BE ITS OWN REWARD.  Asserting yourself helps you, helps the other person, and helps your relationship.  This qualitative improvement in the relationship, after assertiveness, is your reward for asserting yourself.

Assertion has nothing whatsoever to do with winning any particular argument or encounter.  It is about developing a game-free relationship between individuals.

Considerable relief and relaxation usually follows even our most imperfect acts of self-assertion.

Assertive vs aggressive


The following comes from the Triphasic separation individuation theory of child development. (Rarely found in assertivenss training courses).

The third function of this childhood negativistic stage is for the child to learn that it has control over its boundaries. The 4 year old child knows that it is physically separate from mother and has a boundary between mother and self. The child at this stage wants to gain control of the boundary it senses and learn how to use it. Through his negative attitude the child is saying, “You can only come in, if I let you in”. At this stage he is very aware of his personal space and practices exercising it.

It is said that the 3 year old is assentive whilst the 4 year old is assertive. People with assertion problems maybe fixated at this stage. A lack of assertion can be due to a problem at the behavioural level or more at the personality level. A person can simply lack assertion behavioural skills and assertion training courses are good in these instances. Acquire the basic skills and one then can be more assertive. This is not so for other unassertive people where the cause is more at a personality level. This lack of assertion is more deeply ingrained in the personality and can be due to not successfully completing the childhood negativistic stage of development. The child never fully learns about personal boundary control which is one of the main goals for the four year old child to achieve. He does this by trying out his power. His boastfulness reaches towering heights and he now vigorously says ‘I won’t”, “I’m mad”, “You are bad”, does name calling and so forth. He is exerting his personal boundary control and if dealt with correctly by the parents he will learn how to be assertive and have a sense of control over who comes into his personal space and who does not.


Unsuccessful completion of this stage can result in difficulties like the dependent personality disorder, pathological lack of assertion, strong please me driver, women in domestic violence who repeatedly return and find it very difficult to leave permanently. The inability to separate out emotions between self and others can lead to all kinds of mood disorders, couvade syndrome, relationship difficulties where feelings get mixed up between the people in the relationship and this can included the borderline personality. Narcissistic sexual identity problems can result in some instances of transvestism, transsexualism and asexualism (not identifying with either gender).

Resolution of the pathological lack of assertiveness requires resolving the fixation at this stage of development.

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