Assertiveness in Recovery

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[ uh- sur-tiv]
confidently aggressive or self-assured; positive: aggressive; dogmatic: He is too assertive as a salesman.
having a distinctive or pronounced taste or aroma.


Hi, it's Dermot again. If you read my last blog, you will know that this is a follow up to that blog and part of a "Recovery from Addiction Series", If not read on:

Assertiveness CAN be learned if practiced on an ongoing basis.

Assertive people stand their ground without being negatively influenced by other people and their beliefs.

Assertive people respect other people, their own thoughts and beliefs.

Assertive people aren’t bullies and don’t allow themselves to be bullied.

When I was drinking I was a "People Pleaser", when I got sober I was a "People Pleaser", as far back as I can remember, I was a "People Pleaser". Recovery is about change and people pleasing is not recovery, but assertiveness is.

Types of responses when dealing with other people:

#1 Passive Response - “I don’t count”. This is the people-pleasing posture. Your main concern is that the other person is happy or okay and maybe they will leave you alone. Also known as Victim role.

#2 Aggressive Response- “I count but you don’t count”. This is the aggressive posture. Your main concern is to get what you want no matter what and to use anger and intimidation. Also, know as Bully role.

#3 Passive-Aggressive- “I count, You don’t count but I’m not going to tell you about it”. This is the all picture no sound posture. Not much may be said but the atmosphere is very tense. Also known as Resentment role.

#4 Assertive - “I count and you do too”. This is the fairest role, where all parties are acknowledged and a happy medium sought. Also known as Negotiator.

Where your rights are being violated you have 3 options, You can:-

1) Ask yourself: Am I Aggressive, Passive or Assertive?

2) Am I submissive, say nothing and fume in silence? (X)

3) Am I aggressive and hostile, which will probably just fuel the fire. (X)

4) Do I calmly & politely assert my interests? (Y) 


5. Suggestions on how to be assertive:

1. Think before you speak – be specific

2. Avoid Blaming – Use “I” statements, like I feel, I think, I need, express your feelings without blaming.

3. Never say never – “You never… or You always….” (negative statements provoke a negative defensive reaction).

4. Don’t hold a grudge – Let people know how you feel and then let it go.

5. Use humor – releases tension and lightens the mood.

How NOT to come across as Passive-Aggressive when being Assertive:

A) Allow yourself to feel your anger – It is not a bad emotion.

B) Make clear, assertive requests: -Passive Aggressive example: “After you go to the gym or whatever it is you do all day, whilst I’m at work, would you mind picking up the dry cleaning for me? that is if you are not too busy.” – Sarcasm

How does that statement make you feel?

Possible response: “Can't you take a joke!!”

Assertive way to make the same request: “Will you please pick up my dry cleaning for me on your way home tonight?”

C) Validate the other person’s feelings – Understand other peoples feelings and where they are coming from, however, it doesn’t mean you have to agree with them. E.g. “I know you are not happy having to miss the game/soaps, but us having this talk is very important to me and I really appreciate you doing it”

D) Be a good listener – “Good posture, eye contact, minimum interruptions or opinions, and paraphrasing” will make the other person feel heard and respected. – Turn off the phone & put it in your pocket

E) Be Collaborative – “Working together to find a common solution that suits all” – What will work for everyone

Most cases addicts will be both perpetrators and victims of both aggressive and passive-aggressive behavior.

Waiting for the other person to change from being an aggressor is pointless as they will continue to behave in the same way if not challenged. - Appropriately

By becoming assertive without being aggressive will challenge their behavior in a non-threatening way. –evoke change.

Most importantly it will improve your own self-esteem.

To sum up, assertiveness increases self-worth and self-esteem, which improves the individuals day to day recovery which enhances the quality of life, thus empowering the person to be more assertive. So which one do I identify with Aggressive, Passive or Assertive?

It is a “Life Skill” that can be learned, so long as you believe and accept you deserve it, you can do it.

Do not ever let another person’s behavior & opinion dictate yours. You have your own brain and can think your own thoughts & make your own decisions.

My next article is on Belief, stay tuned.

The articles in "Recovery from Addiction" Series, are the opinion of the author and if you would like to contribute to it, please leave a comment in the comment box below. If you want to subscribe, for free, to any further blogs of mine please leave your email in the blue box below.


Recovery is about growth and everyone does grow at a different pace. My advice to anyone in early recovery is to wait at least 2 years before making any major life-changing decisions that might have emotional ramifications. An example: get a mortgage, get married, change career, emigrate. In light of this everyone has dreams and we all do want to better our lives in one way or another, so it is important in early recovery to start to put those dreams into reality by creating achievable goals which can be reached in time. I found in my early recovery, although I had dreams, I wasn’t aware of creating goals and my life unfolded by default. It turned out well for me but had I had clear goals, I do feel that it would have been even better.

I do try to learn from my mistakes, and that is why they are little miracles in themselves that happen for a reason. I am a growth-seeking being I will continue to seek change in myself. What motivates me is the Pain – Pleasure, which moves me away from my pain points (a lack of finances, time & peace of mind) to my pleasure points (freedom of finances, time & peace of mind). The way I have found to achieve this freedom and to move away from the “Groundhog Day” of life is through online marketing. I have taken this step into the abyss, I’m not tech savvy at all, and with the support of SFM, I am working my way through it. The internet is here to stay and is the future for all of us, so don’t get left behind because it is gaining momentum. If you want to learn what I am learning and are in a point in your life where you want to change, then I offer you, through my mentors, a no obligation FREE 7-day video series to watch.



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