Being assertive is about standing up for yourself. It's about expressing your thoughts, your feelings and your needs. If we look at behavior on a continuum: assertive behavior sits in between being passive and being aggressive.There are plenty of times in your daily life that assertive skills can come in handy. You'll use these skills at home, at work, with friends, with family and with your significant other. When should you not be assertive? Well, if a police officer is giving you a ticket, I'd advise you to just sit back and take it - don't practice your assertiveness skills in that situation, being passive may be called for. When should you you be aggressive? Well, possibly when you are physically threatened, but usually I think it's better to just get out of there!
You might find that you are pretty assertive in some situations, that there are other times when you are passive, and still others when you are aggressive. This mini lesson will help you to improve in the areas that you are weaker in. Take notice of how you act at work, with your parents, etc. You might note differences. Lots of people have a tendency to act like they are five years old when they are with their parents, or with their siblings, yet are perfectly assertive with coworkers. Take an inventory of your behavior in all your interpersonal relations and then get to work on being more assertive where appropriate.
We can all learn to be assertive. Most of us weren't born with these skills.
Let's look at where some of our passive behavior comes from. You may have learned to be somewhat passive. Maybe you were told to be seen and not heard, or that it's selfish to ask for what you want in life. Perhaps you consider it rude or disrespectful to say "no" to people when they ask you to do something or go somewhere. Maybe you don't know how to set limits. You let people make decisions for you and take advantage of you. Is this what you want to be doing?
Maybe you don’t readily express your opinions, you go along if someone asks you to go somewhere (even if you don't want to) and you most likely end up regretting that you did, but you don't know what else to do. You are definitely not in control of your life.
On the other hand if you use the aggressive style, you are able to speak up for yourself, but at the expense of others' feelings. You blame others, you make them feel guilty, etc. In the end you make others resent you and you end up losing.
An assertive person expresses his or her thoughts, feelings and needs directly, while taking into account the rights and feelings of others. You are able to say "yes" or "no" to the offers of others. You are able to accept rejection of your offers without taking them personally. You state your desires, but don't necessarily get what you want. Being assertive doesn't guarantee that you get what you ask for, but you have the satisfaction of having asked, and having made yourself clear.
Let's talk about some of your basic rights as a person:
•You have a right to say "no".
•You have the right to say "I don't know".
•You have the right to say "I don't care".
•It's ok to put your own feelings, thoughts and needs first. In other words it's not necessarily selfish to think of yourself first.
•You're allowed to make mistakes.
•You're allowed to change your mind. It's not always best to stick with a plan, a relationship, etc. Live and learn.
•Your feelings matter. In your childhood perhaps you were taught that your feelings were wrong, so now you don't trust yourself. Your feelings are telling you something. They were put there to help you. Pay attention to them.
•You're allowed to have your own opinions. You don't have to agree with others, even authority figures.
•You have a right to be alone sometimes.
•It's ok to interrupt others sometimes. You might need a question answered or something.
•It's ok to ask for change (and I don't mean nickels, dimes and quarters).
•It's ok to ask for help or support. You don't have to do it all alone. You're not necessarily bothering other people if you ask for help. It's ok to let others know that you are in pain.
•You don't have to take the advice of others.
•It's ok to want some recognition for your achievements and good work. It's not necessarily showing off.
•You don't have to justify your decisions to others.
•You have the right to make decisions which seem illogical to others.
•You are not responsible for other people's problems. You don't have to take responsibility for them.
•You don't have to read minds. You don't have to be able to know what other people want. They need to tell you.
•You don't always have to respond to other people's questions. Just because someone asks you a question, doesn't mean you have to answer it.
Being assertive means making yourself and your opinions known. There's no pussyfooting around.
An assertive statement states your opinion on something, your feelings about it and your needs or desires or wants related to it. It does this without putting blame on someone else or making the other person feel like they have to comply or they are a jerk. It's about you and what you think and want.
If you don't know if the criticism is constructive or manipulative, or if you need more info-- Use this one: Ask "What is it about my... that bothers you?" Example: "What is it about my TV watching that bothers you?"
The purpose of having boundaries is to protect and take care of ourselves. We need to be able to tell other people when they are acting in ways that are not acceptable to us. A first step is starting to know that we have a right to protect and defend ourselves. That we have not only the right, but the duty to take responsibility for how we allow others to treat us.
While you have the right to your opinion, they have a right not to take an insult or deal with a toxic shame comment. Boundaries work both ways.
In order to stop giving the toxic shame so much power, learn to detach from the reactive process enough to start being able to see a boundary between being and behavior. Learn how to observe behavior without making judgments about yourself and others. There is a huge difference between judgment in my definition and observation.
Three primary areas in relationship to learning to have a healthier relationship with self and others: boundaries, emotional honesty, and emotional responsibility. We start to naturally and normally: set boundaries with others; speak our Truth; own our right to be alive and be treated with respect and dignity. Setting personal boundaries is vital part of healthy relationships - which are not possible without communication.
What toxic shame is all about: feeling that something is wrong with our being, that we are somehow defective because we have human drives, human weaknesses, and human imperfections.
There may be behavior in which we have engaged that we feel ashamed of but that does not make us shameful beings We may need to make judgments about whether our behavior is healthy and appropriate but that does not mean that we have to judge our essential self, our being, because of the behavior. Our behavior has been dictated by our disease, by our childhood wounds; it does not mean that we are bad or defective as beings. It means that we are human; it means that we are wounded and we are all learning. How about cutting people some slack.
I would seriously suggest you do go to therapy as well, as read the book "Toxic Parents" by Susan Forward.You have some highly toxic parents, in which you and your sister need to learn to assert yourself. For if you don't respect yourself and your personal boundaries, how are you going to get them too?