“Be who you are and say how you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
~ Theodor Seuss Geisel
Let’s return for a moment to the MBTI personality test results. The last letter in the five-letter code of your personality type was either A or T, with A standing for Assertive and T for Turbulent.
People with turbulent personality types are more prone to states of agitation and anxiety and are susceptible to external opinions whereas someone with an assertive personality type is confident, decisive and resistant to opinions of others.
Of course, people are not simply bipolar and do not fall into two strict categories. The level of assertiveness varies considerably from person to person and can be assessed within a range from 100% turbulence to 100% assertiveness. The level of assertiveness may fluctuate under the influence of many factors. For example, bad health or a low level of energy can destabilize assertiveness.
Understandably, being 100% assertive makes you a much more effective human being. Having an unshakeable worldview and a decision-making ability that is immune to extraneous influence gives you a great degree of freedom. The good news for turbulent types is that turbulence is not permanent. With the right effort, assertiveness can be trained.
Assertiveness is a prerequisite of well-balanced self-esteem. In this section, I would like to talk about the mental component of assertiveness. Here are some mindsets to flip the way you see things to the assertive side.
Apply Pareto Principle.
Here is how the 80/20 rule can be applied to developing the assertiveness mindset:
- 80% of the people you know don’t care about your problems, 20% are happy you have them. Ranting about your problems is a pointless waste of time. When people ask: “How are you?” Always say: “Awesome!”
- 80% of what people think about you will never be said out loud, 20% might be. Your concerns about what others think about you are inconsequential. The most intimate and hence the most honest of thoughts will never be shared with you.
- 80% of the thoughts about you that people share are empty babble, only 20% might be useful feedback. Such a large percentage of feedback is irrelevant not because it’s told with bad intent but simply because it is too subjective. People conduct their judgment through the prism of their own knowledge and life experience. What’s true for them is unlikely to work for you. For instance, 80% of the content of this book might be of no use to you. That’s fine with me as long as you find the rest 20% valuable.
I don’t use 80/20 rule as a mathematically precise or statistically accurate formula. I use it as a thinking approach to certain ideas with an intention to optimize my assertiveness. As a thought experiment, try to come up with your own interpretations of the Pareto principle to design effective mindsets.
The Assertiveness Mantra.
There is a special very powerful mantra that you can repeat every time an external event imperils your inner peace. I learned it from one of my mentors and since then I use it all the time. Are you ready for a magical mantra? Repeat it with me:
- Lost job or went bankrupt? Fuck it.
- A partner betrayed you? Fuck it.
- People shit-talk behind your back? Fuck it.
- Failed again at work? Fuck it.
- Want to talk to that beautiful person over there but worrying that you will be considered creepy? Fuck it.
Someone might say: “Oh dear! This guy is talking about spirituality but he uses the F-word!” Well, guess what? Fuck it. Cursing in English is a child’s play compared to what’s possible in my mother tongue so I never took the “f-word” seriously. I do not swear in my mother tongue so I was pondering if I should include expletives in my writing, however, as we say in Russian “a word dropped from the song makes it all wrong”. Strong language has some gravity to it, it allows delivering a message in a more straightforward way, so I kept it.
Anyway, back to the mantra. When I call it a mantra, I mean it — practice it religiously. It’s a cheat code to reprogram your mind. Constant repetition will bring satisfying positive change. After some time, your mind will develop a habit — these two words will start to automatically pop up in your head snapping you back from your negative self-talk. You will get better at detecting self-sabotaging thoughts and learn how to cut off a further inner dispute with self every time it gets counterproductive.
Do things that develop assertiveness.
In my home country Kazakhstan, we have a strong theater culture. Due to its popularity, multiple private academies that offer acting classes have emerged. Try to find and enroll in such acting classes in your city. Upgrading your acting skills will tremendously expand your comfort zone. Doing ludicrous things on stage will make you less caring for public opinion.
William Shakespeare wrote: “All the world’s stage,
And all the men and women are merely players.” Acting experience shifts your perception — you start to see that the reality is indeed one grand play in which you have the leading role. For those who are born charismatic and appealing, confidence in the spotlight is a God-given talent. For people who like myself lack this talent, it must become a self-taught skill.
Dating training boot camps.
One of the most important elements of assertiveness is skillfulness in intersexual communication. In the course of dating training, you will learn how to be audacious, daring, and mindful which will further advance you in your own voyage of self-discovery. For both men and women, the science of how to interact with the opposite sex naturally without overthinking is a cornerstone of assertiveness.
Flash mob is a fun activity for people who are afraid or too shy to do things alone and need a group of like-minded people. Participating in a flash mob gives a sense of community and belonging. Flash mobs are perfect to shake up your reality a bit and become the first prop to your self-confidence.
Whenever you are about to do something out of your comfort zone in public, think to yourself: “Why do you care about the opinions of the people you don’t even know? Evidently, this would be the first and the last time you see them.” Most of your doubts about public opinion can be dispelled by this mindset. Regarding the people you know ask yourself: “How much value do you place on their opinions?” Ask the right questions and sooner or later you will arrive at an insightful conclusion:
What others think is entirely irrelevant to your personal growth.
Disconnect your sense of self-worth from the opinions of others. Consider advice only from people who are better than you, and by “better” I mean the people who already have succeeded at things you only intend to achieve i.e. a fit body, financial independence, intellectual capital or any other thing you pursue in life
No one cares.
Someone said: “When you are in your twenties, you care so much about what other people, think about you. When you are in your thirties you care much less. When you are in your forties you realize that no one ever gave a shit.” A single truth that will set you free from the opinions of other people is that people are all alike on the inside.
Everybody is too busy thinking about themselves.
Nobody thinks about you. Even people who love you deeply probably think about you less than 30 minutes a day. That might be a bitter revelation but it is liberating.
You don’t owe anyone anything.
Another milestone in spiritual maturing is a realization that you don’t owe anyone a damn thing. At some point, you break with your old ideas of self including the idea that you need to justify how you choose to live your life. There is no need to explain yourself. People only understand your behavior from their level of perception.
Abandon every idea of self that doesn’t serve you and be yourself. Act like someone assertive would act. With time it will become your second nature. You will notice the appearance of a new pattern — the more you love yourself, the less bullshit you’ll tolerate.
Give a shit.
Some of the people who progressed significantly in building up their assertiveness go to the other extreme. They take pride in how few things they care about. They grow a “thick skin” and become stubborn. They fall into nihilism. With their newly found ability to negate the values of others they also acquire a strong desire to do so. The phrase “I don’t give a shit” becomes their slogan. Such behavior sets them on the path of aggressive ignorance.
Before telling everyone around about all the things you don’t give a shit about, know the things about which you do give a shit.
- Give a shit about what you feed your mind with. Everything that enters it leaves an impression, it becomes a part of you.
- Give a shit about your family. Take care of your parents. Many things can be lost and recovered but the time you can spend with your parents will never come back.
- Give a shit about those to whom you give your time. Don’t spend your time on people who don’t have respect for it.
- Give a shit about your people. There are not many of them, you know who they are.
- Give a shit about what you do today. Give a shit about your goals, your dreams, and your ways to achieve them. Give a shit about the things that make you truly fulfilled. Give a shit about what makes you feel alive.
Standing up for what you believe in is just as important as disregarding everything else. Be courageous even when you stand alone. You are “enough”. This is undebatable.
Be assertive. Be humble. Be real. And at all times bear in mind: “The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on.”
Thank you for reading my book “Meditations of the Millennial”.
If you want to support me on my mission, please, share this book with someone you love. Maybe they will find what they seek on its pages.