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You Can't Be Both Aggressive and Assertive


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By : Browning Ellen   99 or more times read
Submitted 2008-04-19 01:06:06

During a girl's high school finals basketball game, I heard some spectators talking about the youngest player. "She's so aggressive for a small player." One spectator must have been to the previous play-off game. He said, "She was high-scorer in the last game. What do you think makes her so good? She's aggressive and fun to watch."

Aggressive or assertive? Confident or angry? What motivates superior performance? What separates the one from the many?

With two minutes and thirty-seven seconds left to the last quarter of the game, our team was losing by 7 points. A win means a day-off from school since the championship game is played at the TDBankNorth Garden in Boston on Monday, a school day.

In the last minutes, the youngest player, praised at the beginning of the game, punched an opposing player. Sheer frustration, assertion or anger? Probably sheer frustration and disappointment tainted by aggression. Our youngest player and her teammates did homework Monday night.

During a game, aggressive behavior is called by the ref. He gave the leading team an automatic two-point penalty shot. With seconds on the clock, the team with 6 players (only one "sub") celebrated.

Tuesday morning on page one, above-the-fold, the Boston Globe Sports section proclaimed their divisional championship victory, A remarkable achievement for an inner-city school with six young women who defeated challengers on and off the basketball court.

Aggressive reactions bring harm usually. Assertive actions express confidence and skill. One may indulge anger while the other exudes affirmation. Anger may win occasionally; assertion wins without exception. Oh, you won't win every debate, athletic event, or sales pitch, but you will attain confidence and encouragement.

Some good words nurture assertion:

*Mom loves me

*Dad loves me

*I had permission to share my opinions

*I had permission to test my talents

*Mom and Dad loved me

If all of us lived assertively, would we play the life-game more effectively?

My anecdotal experience suggests that confidence is the euphemism for assertion. Sounds better when we say, "She's confident" rather than "She's assertive." I believe that same, assertive behavior springs from the court of confidence.

So, just where do you acquire these confidence skills? It all starts with Mom and Dad. If they fail at it, you'll have to hope for someone else to coach and nurture you. Acknowledging your need for confidence precedes the possibilities. Once you accept the need, watch people show-up to help you.

So, how do I know parents matter? Well, it is axiomatic. Everyone knows it. When a parent shatters or stifles their child's confidence with abuse, they can expect angry acts of aggression in their child's life.

A friend said, "My Dad criticized me, but I know my Mom and Dad adored me." Not many children describe their parents affection as adoration. Is my friend assertive? Although inherently shy, he travels, writes, and lives his strengths confidently and successfully.

What do you do if Mom and Dad, for whatever reasons, forgot to read or ignored Dr. Spock? You forget the past; drop resentment, and work out your own confidence. These beliefs may help.

First: You matter, therefore love yourself.

Second: Others matter, therefore express love.

Third: You have talents. Identify and exercise them.

Fourth: write your purpose or mission. How come you're here?

Fifth: Set goals and tasks to fulfill your purpose or mission.

Undermined or undeveloped confidence can be encouraged and developed. Every skill takes discipline and energy. Sometimes it's just plain, ordinary, day-after-day practice. Get it right during practice, and you'll perform instinctively during the game.

Your life matters. Assert yourself. Seek family, friends, and a coaches who care about you. Acknowledge your talents. Set goals. Write your mission statement. Live days with passion. You matter; your contributions matter, and your happiness matters.


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