Assertiveness Training

There are many “skills” many of us need to hone if we are going to “fix, not medicate.” These include everything from CBT to blood sugar and hormone management, exercise, habit breaking, and avoiding sabotaging people and situations. Master managing your life and you will also master eliminating symptoms.

As self-evident as that may seem, what is less obvious is that all of these “skills” require you to become assertive, and not just with others, but also with yourself.

One of the curses of being smart is that we have a well-honed ability to convince ourselves that whatever we want to do is what we need to do. Or that things aren’t as bad as they could be. Or it’s too late to change – which usually follows a number of years of “I don’t need to fix this problem yet.”

Amazing how we go straight from “not yet” to “it’s too late.”

This is an example of when it’s time to be assertive with yourself. Why “not yet?”, and why is it “too late?”

The answer is always some variation on “I don’t wanna!”

And “I don’t wanna,” is usually the cover story for “I’m scared.”

This is where becoming generally assertive comes in because many of the problems we medicate are caused by out passivity which leads to unbalanced relationships with leads to resentment which promotes passive-aggressive drinking which leads to…..

Internal and external imbalances lead to a desire to medicate away the discomfort between what we’re doing, or not doing, and what we know. And so we fall back to “not yet” and “too late.”

Yes, there is a bugaboo in fixing things. It is the simple reality that changing any habit, or practicing any new skill, is going to make us even more uncomfortable for a while. Ask any ex-smoker.

When we have been medication discomfort and cease medicating, the loneliness, boredom, anxiety, and anger are going to emerge and dealing with them directly is also going to be new and uncomfortable. But that level of discomfort isn’t a permanent condition.

At 60 I took up weight training in order to lose the pounds I’d gained after quitting smoking a few years earlier. I’d never done weight training. The first few days I hurt so much I could barely move. For two weeks I would have dropped out except, knowing myself and my tendency to drop out, I’d paid my trainer for 6 months in advance. Non-refundable.

After 6 months, I’d lost 27 lbs. of fat, gained 3 pounds of muscle, and was a half inch taller. No, I wasn’t actually a half inch taller, but I felt so much better that my posture had improved to the degree where I stood up taller and hence gained the half inch I lost by being depressed about my weight gain.

The same process applies to other aspects of our lives. Box yourself into actually trying, with some real help, coaching, training, counseling, whatever you would find helpful, and cultivate the change process and give yourself six month or more to see what feels better.

Become assertive with yourself, next work up to becoming assertive with others, balance both your inner and outer lives, and think about how you actually want to live and what you really want to do. The results won’t be immediate, nor exactly what you envision, but they will still beat hell out of continuing as you are, conning yourself, but no one else.

What’s so scary about finding out?

“But suppose I work with you for six months and discover I don’t like my ‘new’ life?”

That seems easy – go back to drinking as an informed choice, while no long harboring any doubts about preferring drinking to relating. Makes sense to us.

Which brings me to the usual question we have:

Why is finding information so frightening?

For all of our 15 years we have offered free consultations and that offer currently includes a session with both of us and you using the HIPPA approved, audio-visual conferencing service Zoom. An hour’s conversation would allow you, and us, to see if we’re a good fit, if the Zoom format works for you, and if you feel less anxious about moving forward. Or not. No judgement, or high pressure sales pitch, either way.

All that happens is that you know more than you did.

It is similar to why people don’t go to the doctor: “she might find something is wrong!” Or write a will: “That would mean I’m going to die!” Or open that letter from the IRS: “As long as I don’t open it then everything is still okay.”

Ah, yes, ignorance is bliss, even if short lived.

In the case of our work I think there is a second factor at work. I think people are afraid to learn that there might be help that isn’t draconian, dehumanizing, AA based, abstinence only, and that might actually help.
I can hear, “Oh, crap, now what’s my excuse?” from here.