I have been reading a bestselling book called “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell recently. In it, Malcolm presents various sources of historic information that he believes shows us proof on how we can lead a more successful life.
I know it’s always wise to be healthily cautious about any book professing how to lead a ‘successful life’, but bear with me on this one and keep reading! There is some useful stuff in here.
What caught my attention in the book was an entire section relating to the way children are brought up. Specifically, how some parenting methods produced highly assertive adults later in life and how other methods produced the exact opposite. From this, Gladwell presents his argument that being assertive plays a critical part in leading a successful life.
Here is a excerpt taken from the book to show you what I mean, Gladwell is commenting on a study conducted by sociologist Annette Lareau:
“Some parents talked things through with their children, reasoning with them. They didn’t just issue commands. They expected their children to talk back to them, to negotiate, to question adults in positions of authority… The children had learned a sense of ‘entitlement.’… They acted as though they had a right to pursue their own individual preferences and to actively manage interactions in institutional settings… It was common practice among these children to shift interactions to suit their preferences.”
Gladwell surmises that this sense of ‘entitlement’ is an attitude “perfectly suited to succeeding in the modern world.”
The word ‘entitlement’ may have negative connotations nowadays but in the true sense of the word this is a completely appropriate term, especially if you have ever read a guide to assertiveness or talked to a trained counsellor on the subject.
Assertiveness is being able to stand up for yourself, making sure your feelings are considered and not letting other people always get their way. It is not the same as aggressiveness. You can be assertive without being forceful or rude. Instead, it is stating clearly what you expect and insisting your rights are considered.
Assertion is not about winning, but is concerned with being able to walk away feeling that you put across what you wanted to say. Try to think about a time when someone else has been assertive with you and respected your opinion. How did you feel about them and yourself?
The good news is that you can still learn to be assertive as an adult, whichever parenting method you may or may not have experienced as a child. It takes practice, I won’t lie to you. And it may involve reversing some of the mistaken beliefs you have about yourself with the help of hypnotherapy. But it is never too late to change.