Note: This is part of a 7 lessons challenge spread over 14 days called “Say Yes to Your No”. It is meant to help you become more confident in saying NO to what doesn’t serve you anymore so you can say yes to yourself. This is lesson 6.

Assertion is the 6th A of healing in the book “When the body says NO” by Dr.Gabor Maté. The following paragraphs in ” ” are excerpts from the chapter “The 7 A’s of healing” in this book.

“Beyond acceptance and awareness, beyond the experience of anger and the unfolding of autonomy, along with the celebration of our capacity for attachment and the conscious search for contact, comes assertion: it is the declaration to ourselves and to the world that we are and that we are who we are.”

“Assertion in the sense of self-declaration is deeper than the limited autonomy of action.”

     “It is the statement of our being, a positive valuation of ourselves independent of our history, personality, abilities or the world’s perceptions of us”. 

     “Assertion challenges the core belief that we must somehow justify our existence.”

“It demands neither acting nor reacting. It is being, irrespective of action. Thus, assertion may be the very opposite of action, not only in the narrow sense of refusing to do something we do not wish to do but letting go of the very need to act.”

The ideas that I most resonated with and how I use them

“Assertion challenges the core belief that we must somehow justify our existence. It is being, irrespective of action.”

This idea has struck a cord with me. 

When we come into this world we don’t question the reason of our existence. 

As babies we are cared for and nourished so we can grow and evolve into autonomous adults. In the first years of our lives – if all goes well – we receive everything we need – physically, emotionally, mentally, socially, spiritually – and we learn that we are enough, that we are lovable and loved.

If for any reason our care takers are not able to offer us this solid ground – and this happens to a loooot  of people- we end up with a deep rooted feeling that we need to justify our existence by acting, doing, proving our worth.

So coming back to the idea of assertion as Dr. Maté illustrates it is a great reminder for me that I don’t need to justify my existence through compulsive actions. 

Instead I can ground myself in my I am who I am-ness and from this space of being enough I can choose to act. 

It makes a huge difference in the quality of my doing whether I act from a place of “I need to do this to prove myself to the world” or if I act from the “I am enough, I am who I am” space.

Assertion & saying NO

When we are not assertive in the sense described above we can’t really say NO.

We’re like a house without a solid foundation. The next big storm or earthquake will shatter us into thousands of pieces.

We need to have a positive valuation of ourselves regardless of what messages we have received from the world in order to be able to say NO to lousy invitations, from unfairly low paid job offers to toxic friends or romantic partners.

When we are firmly rooted in our I am-ness we can honour our needs and follow our desires without being paralysed by fear. 

Fear that we might get rejected, that we might disturb other people and that they will not like us anymore.

It takes assertion to be able to show up into the world, flaws and all, and do your thing knowing that in the process some people will appreciate you and others will not like you.

My quest for assertion

This 7 days challenge is by itself an exercise in practicing assertion for me.

For most of my life I lived with a deep rooted feeling of “I am not enough” and I had trouble asserting myself, taking my place in the world, affirming “I am” and “I am who I am.” 

Like with most of the other 7 A’s of healing previously covered I feel I’ve made huge progress in some areas but of course, there’s always a deeper level of understanding, a deeper meaning to reveal.

So I feel it’s an ongoing work for me to keep reminding myself that “I am” and I am who I am” ~ no apologies, no hiding, no self-judging.

Next steps – Practical exercises

How does Assertion feel in your body

Take a few moments today to practice feeling your unapologetic “I am-ness” in your body.

Stand upright, feet slightly apart, back straight, shoulders rolled back and open chest. 

Inhale deeply, exhale slowly. 

Say out loud “I am” and simply observe your body. 

Repeat a few more times. 

Then say out loud “I am who I am” and notice the sensations in your body. You can write down whatever comes out after this.

Questions of the day

Look at your relationships and ask yourself: 

“In this particular relationship, do I feel like I am who I am?” 

“Do I allow myself to be unapologetically who I am in this context?”

“Is there an area of my life where I could start being more assertive?”

It’s better to observe yourself throughout the day or the weak and also journal about what you discover.

Once you’ve went through today’s exercises go over to the Facebook group and share your experience.

If you are not on Facebook leave a comment below.

Missed day five? You can read it here.

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