Coaching for Assertiveness and Greater Self-Confidence
By Renata Taylor-Byrne, Lifestyle Coach/Counsellor
Updated on 3rd July 2021
Hello and welcome to my counselling/coaching service for adults who want to work on their self-confidence and self-assertiveness, interpersonal communication problems, and negotiation/ conflict management skills.
I have run courses for many years for groups of adults on this subject, before working one-to-one with clients from 2011, as a coach/counsellor.
Assertiveness and greater self-confidence
“We leave the role of the victim by standing up for ourselves. We celebrate the uniqueness of our individual characteristics, and also those human qualities we share with other people.”
Dr Khaleghl Quinn
To strengthen you as you go out into the world, and find your unique path in life, you need to develop lifestyle habits that support you and enable you to achieve your life goals. Chief among these habit are
- eating a balanced diet of decent nutritional value;
- regular sleep of adequate quality and quantity;
- and regular physical exercise and relaxation practices.
You also need to have an emotionally supportive set of relationships; a safe place to live; and a regular income.
Furthermore, you need to be able to protect, yourself physically and psychologically, from harm by others.
Depending on your experiences in your family of origin, you may or may not have learned these skills as you grew up.
These essential skills, for a happy, healthy, successful life, can be learned at any stage in your life, like learning to drive.
Our personal boundaries
“In work or in our personal relationships, poor boundaries lead to resentment, anger, and burnout”
Some people have “weak boundaries” which allow other individuals to “invade their space”, and to abuse or exploit them. These people are passive, and are often described as behaving like “door mats”.
Other people have no respect for the boundaries of others, and they will gladly invade your personal space, and take your time and your dignity, and sometimes your property, unless you know how to stop them. These people are aggressive, and are often described as Controllers or Abusers or Exploiters, or even Charming Manipulators.
Your “personal boundaries” are like personal property lines that define who you are, and who you aren’t; and they influence all areas of your life.
In the real world, there are fences, walls and barriers that clearly show where one property ends and another begins – and there are legal documents that back up these property lines, showing the areas of their owner’s rights and responsibilities.
Every living organism has a boundary, which is its skin. The skin is designed to keep bad stuff outside, and to only allow good stuff inside the boundary.
Every kind of animal is animated by a fight-flight-or-freeze mechanism, which acts as a boundary (by fighting off predators), running away (so predators cannot get inside its boundary), or freezing in an effort to trick the predator into thinking it is dead! [This is not a good strategy for humans to use, but we often do resort to freezing, fainting, or dissociating, when we are locked into a traumatic experience from which there is no escape!]).
In the case of human beings, our skin is a barrier, keeping out germs and viruses, and holding our vital organs in place. But unlike most other animals, much of our boundary is learned as part of the culture of our family of origin. Some families encourage their children to be meek and tame; others to be fierce and wild; and others to be balanced, and reasonably assertive but not overly so.
Mentally, part of the learning from our parents, of how to take good care of ourselves, (which we take over as we become an adult), consists of keeping out harmful influences, and keeping inside our ‘fences’ all the good things we need to sustain us.
Mentally, our ‘fences’ are invisible to others, but in order to protect ourselves from harmful influences or bad treatment, we need to create strong, safeguarding fences with the words we use.
“The most basic boundary setting word is ‘no’. It lets other people know that you exist apart from them, and that you are in control of you.”
Cloud and Townsend, 1992.
In order to protect ourselves in life, we have to set mental, physical and emotional boundaries around ourselves, just as homeowners have to set physical property lines (like fences) around their gardens. This helps us and others to know what is ours and what is not ours; and it warns people to “keep out” of places they should not seek to enter.
Personal boundary challenges that we can face in daily life:
Part of the challenge of finding our way in life involves being able to protect ourselves from verbal, or written attacks by other people which are harmful, drain our energy and cause distress. But how do you do that? Here are some examples of the challenges we may face:
- Insults – spoken/written/published on a social media website
- Destructive criticism of our appearance/ ideas/ activities/ future plans
- Unasked for advice or inappropriate orders
And beyond that, we have to watch out for
- Self-putdowns from an unmanaged Inner critic
How you benefit from learning assertiveness and confidence-building techniques
Learning to skilfully block, like a judo practitioner, insults, put-downs or unfair or unjust criticism, is an invaluable life skill.
We also need to know how to ask for what we want, and to say no to what we do not want. And to manage the conflict that arises in both contexts.
These skills are important at home, and when working (or studying) in organisations and groups of different types as you make your way in life.
And if you have a harsh inner critic, you also need to manage the resulting self-destructive messages. These internal confidence destroying messages can be picked up from our early environments and leak away lots of vital energy, until stopped.
There are key phrases that can be used, and there are also mental strategies that you can use, to keep harmful messages out.
The rewards for learning to practise the skills of self-assertion and confident self-expression will take time to show up, as all new skills do. But step by step, you can develop into a much stronger and healthier human being, with increased autonomy and sense of purpose in life; when you study and practice self-assertion skills.
If you would like to learn the skills of greater confidence and assertiveness, please contact me.
You can consult me via the telephone, from any part of the world.
To make initial contact, please phone me on 01422 843 629 (from inside the UK)
Or 44 1422 843 629 (from outside the UK).
Or Email: email@example.com
You can see my Fees Scale here.***
That’s all for now.