Procrastination and Assertiveness

Dr. Purushothaman
September 30, 2013

Procrastination and Assertiveness
What is assertiveness? Simply defined, according to
Wikipedia, which is actually pretty good at defining this term,
assertiveness is:
"...a form of behavior characterized by a confident declaration
or affirmation of a statement without need of proof; this affirms
the person's rights or point of view without either aggressively
threatening the rights of another (assuming a position of dominance)
or submissively permitting another to ignore or deny one's rights or
point of view."
Further, assertive people have the following characteristics:
"They feel free to express their feelings, thoughts, and desires.
They are "also able to initiate and maintain comfortable relationships
with [other]people.
They know their rights.
They have control over their anger. This does not mean that they repress
this feeling; it means that they control anger and talk about it in a
reasoning manner.
Assertive people ... are willing to compromise with others, rather than
always wanting their own way ... and tend to have good self-esteem"
Assertive people enter friendships from an 'I count my needs. I count
your needs' position".
The most important trait in this last list is the first one, "They
feel free to express their feelings, thoughts, and desires." This is the
state which allows for the expression of those recently excavated feelings,
values, ideas, memories, associations and thoughts that previously weren't
in awareness. Now that they are, the task is to use the appropriate words
and say them, out loud, to decrease the tension inherent in the
procrastination dynamic. Notice that I did not say that externalizing your
thoughts got you off the hook or that it even reduced tension. It shifts
attention from procrastination to assertiveness, which for some, is equally
uncomfortable. (This is secondary procrastination-fear of dealing with it
because of trouble being assertive.) But the demand now is to face the
issue with assertiveness, which may cause another kind of anxiety, that of
speaking up, This has to be mastered sufficiently or the dynamic of
rocrastination, even though exposed, will still not change.
You, the reader, are probably thinking, "Great, now I have to be
assertive when I haven't yet mastered procrastination." The short answer
is "yes" but assertiveness doesn't have to be so arduous, if that is the way
you think about it. In my ebook, The Five Steps of Assertiveness, I
describe three levels of assertiveness, "Beginning, Intermediate and
Advanced." You only need to master the first level, which is very simple.
All you have to do is find the right words to describe your thoughts and/or
feelings and say them. That's it! That takes the edge off the underlying
or buried thoughts and feelings, because now they are no longer buried
(it takes energy to contain energy and we experience this phenomenon mentally
in the form of fatigue, distraction and overall tension). You've taken the
lid off the bottle, so to speak, and let out some of the pressure. The next
easy and logical step is to state your position on something and then ask for
what you want, this time directly. This is Beginning Assertiveness, and it
is not hard. This is the simplest direct way to clear the air and get more
of what you want. Procrastination probably is the most indirect way of
creating what you want, but it causes all kinds of problems inside your head
and in your social environment because people are not pleased with
procrastinating behavior. When you overtly state your wishes, people react
to you differently. While they still might not like what you say or agree
to give you what you want, they will see and appreciate the normal approach
you are now taking to resolving a situation. (Assertiveness does not
guarantee you will get what you want, but it does increase the odds.) You
will get feedback that assertiveness is much better than "that other behavior"
and the secondary benefits to you will be things like lowered anxiety,
increased self-esteem, and greater social matriculation. So, follow me as I
describe some situations that embody all the dynamics I've talked about.

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