Reclaim Your Assertive Birthright

By: Eric Garner


As little children, we are all supremely assertive. Up until the age of about 3, we display all the characteristics of confident human beings:
· we are able to express our needs freely
· we trust others unconditionally
· we are innocently allowed to be ourselves
· we are wide-eyed and endlessly curious about our world
· we have fun, laughter and play
· we are instinctively creative
· we can express our feelings out loud whether joy or sadness
· we live totally in the present
· we have a huge potential for growth.

The trouble is, things don't last. Around the age of 3, when our thinking brain kicks in, we start to learn that the world isn't like we thought it was at all. As a result of what our parents, siblings, and teachers tell us, we learn that freedom must be restricted, play activity has no longer any value unless it is useful, others are no longer sources of interest and enjoyment but strangers to be treated with suspicion, and needs that were expressed and promptly met now have to take their place in the queue.

In short, out goes unconditional love and in comes blame and fear.

Our response is to protect ourselves against the world and we do that with 3 kinds of programmes:

1. The Blame Programme. The Blame Programme teaches us that when things don't go the way they should, someone or something must be to blame. This creates two versions of the programming.

1. We look outward at someone or something to blame. We set ourselves up in the role of Persecutor. Because nobody seems to come up to the mark, we take it upon ourselves to be critic, judge and condemner.

2. We look inward and blame ourselves. It is our fault when things go wrong. We set ourselves up in the role of Victim. As victims we hope that others will recognise our unhappiness and come to rescue us.

In one simple programming, we thus create aggressive and passive responses that can last a whole lifetime.

2. The False Self Programme. When we lose our true self that belongs to babyhood, we create a new programme based upon the now-hostile world.

Some of the beliefs of the False Self programme are...
1. forgiveness is weakness
2. you change others by criticising them
3. your anger shows you're right and others are wrong
4. revenge helps you to establish justice
5. it is weakness to ever let yourself be vulnerable
6. judging others proves what a good character you are
7. you protect yourself by attacking people and/or withdrawing love in order to control them through fear, guilt and shame
8. manipulating and deceiving others can help you to become successful.

3. The False Life Script Programme. The false life-script programme is the third programme we learn and it satisfies our early life needs for some kind of identity. This programme tells us who we are, what we are good at or bad at, how well we conform, how well we relate to others and how the rest of our lives should be led.

Unfortunately, the programme is false because it is written by others, not by us. Consequently, the programme gives us...
* other people's labels for us, such as Naughty Nigel, Earnest Eric, Solemn Sue
* their roles for us to perform, such as dutiful housewife, dynamic executive, happy handyman
* the life script of being either a victim of life or a persecutor in life.

Only when we realise the falseness of the life-script programme can we break free of it.

As a result of our early experiences of dealing with the world, most of us lose our natural assertiveness. We come to believe that it is normal to respond to the world in either aggressive or non-assertive modes, with all the miserable consequences that these behaviours produce. But our assertiveness hasn't gone away. It is still there and it is our birthright. If you want to re-claim it, just read again what you were like as a little child, and be assertive:
· we are able to express our needs freely
· we trust others unconditionally
· we are innocently allowed to be ourselves
· we are wide-eyed and endlessly curious about our world
· we have fun, laughter and play
· we are instinctively creative
· we can express our feelings out loud whether joy or sadness
· we live totally in the present
· we have a huge potential for growth.

And, remember, that's who you really are.

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(c) Eric Garner, ManageTrainLearn.com If you enjoyed this article, why not sign up to our FREE 10-day Leadership Skills e-course? All you have to do is send a blank email to [email protected] and you're under way. For lots of other FREE training resources, visit our website at ManageTrainLearn. Manage: to get it right! Train: to stay on top! Learn: to be a success!

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