When Inividual Differences and Assertive
Behavior Are Healthy
assertiveness and conflicts can be healthy when they are born of a need to grow. As adults, we need to assert
individual differences and individual rights as part of our individuation process, just as a two-year-old children
need to do.
When we push and test to discover limits and exercise our ability to say
no during external conflicts, we are not creating dysfunctional conflict. Rather we are giving birth to ourselves
as more independent and, powerful.
But that process, so normal and natural to two year olds, can be uncertain. Each time
we need to assert our individual rights we face dealing with conflict. But being assertive is central to becoming
more independent and thinking for ourselves.
When we become acutely aware of issues involving resistance, compliance and
rebellion, as well as contrariness and control, assertive behavior is the next step.
Here’s how one woman put it, “I know I need to become more independent because I’m
repeatedly finding things wrong. “ At age 54, she was discovering that her need to be more independent meant
reclaiming territory others had tried to take away.
And the first people to notice her new-found assertiveness were her family members –
her husband and children. “I’d been thinking so much about them and their needs that I hadn’t left any time to
think about me,” she said. “Eventually I started getting really angry and we were pushing each other emotionally.
Still I think they’re happy I’m learning to say no.
Later as she gained more confidence in her independence, she took on the authorities
at work about a company policy. The higher-ups didn’t like it at first, but eventually they ended up thanking her,
because her willingness to hang in there and maintain her position in the face of their opposition saved the
company a huge lawsuit.
Developing new levels of healthy autonomy is not always a comfortable process, and
one that’s often not supported by cultures, especially authoritarian ones who operate to pressure individuals into
accepting limitations on their personal power.
If we accept that, however, we enter a destructive process in which we lose our
dreams our hope and become dispirited.
Urges toward independence, when thwarted and held within, can also produce massive
stress and lead to a variety of physical illnesses. Compared to those negative outcomes, facing a little discomfort
during conflicts is not a big price to pay.
How can we handle the process of individuation so it
results in victory rather than disaster? This aspect of life is so important that we devote an entire class to it
in the Emotional Development 101, Click this link to
view the outline and further details.
Pamela Levin is a Teaching and Supervising
Transactional Analyst in private practice 40+ years. She teaches her award-winning work on the process of healthy
emotional development throughout life in the Emotional Development 101.
Pamela Levin, R.N., T.S.T.A.
August 26, 2011
Does this article spark any topics you'd
like to see covered?
If so, suggest them here.
to Better Health
Bytes NEWSLETTER so you'll know when your topic is
We HATE SPAM and respect your email privacy.
By letting us know what you're intererested in,
you help shape health improvement
content that can empower a large number of people, so
we encourage you to let us
know what you'd like covered.
Note: We do
not make recommendations based on any individual's specific health
situation.We offer general information beneficial to
anyone with health concerns. We cannot guarantee an answer to every question or
Tags: Individuation individual differences individual rights individual development individuation process conflicts dealing with conflict external conflict assertive behavior be more assertive