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Assertiveness and self-confidence


Finding Your Voice: Building Assertiveness Alongside Self-Confidence


Many people struggle to assert themselves effectively due to low self-confidence. The two things are very much bound up with each other – believing in ourselves lays the foundation for communicating our needs and setting healthy boundaries.


The Connection: Assertiveness and Self-Confidence


Assertiveness isn't about being aggressive or domineering; it's about confidently expressing your thoughts, feelings, and needs in a clear, respectful, and honest manner. When our self-confidence is low, we may find it difficult to stand up for ourselves, fearing rejection, conflict, or simply feeling that our opinions don't matter. This can lead to passivity, resentment, and an inability to protect our own well-being. That in turn can lead to resentment if we find we don’t get heard, or get our needs met, or find ourselves going along with things we’d rather not do, or even being taken advantage of by those around us.


Psychological Paths to Empowerment


Psychological therapies offer an invaluable toolkit for simultaneously building self confidence and fostering the assertiveness that should come out of that. Here are some widely used approaches:


  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): CBT helps identify the negative thought patterns that undermine your self-belief and your ability to speak up for yourself. This therapy helps you challenge these thoughts, develop more realistic and empowering perspectives, and gradually practice assertive behaviours in safe, controlled environments.

  • Schema Therapy: If low self-confidence stems from deep-seated negative core beliefs about yourself, schema therapy can be transformative. It explores the origins of these beliefs, often rooted in childhood experiences, and guides you in building healthier, self-affirming schemas.

  • Social Skills Training: Often used alongside CBT, social skills training provides structured practice of assertive communication. Through role-playing, feedback, and exercises, you can hone your skills in areas like making requests, setting boundaries, and managing difficult conversations.

  • Mindfulness-Based Approaches: Mindfulness techniques promote self-awareness and self-acceptance. By becoming more aware of your inner critic and practicing self-compassion, you can start to silence those doubts and approach assertive communication with greater trust in yourself.


Additional Strategies

Alongside these therapies, several practices can boost assertiveness and self-confidence:


  • Practice in Low-Stakes Situations: Start building your "assertiveness muscles" in everyday situations with less emotional charge. For example, politely returning a faulty item in a shop or providing constructive feedback to a colleague.

  • Celebrate Your Victories: Acknowledge even small instances of successful assertiveness. This reinforces positive self-regard and fuels further confidence.

  • Surround Yourself With Support: Confide in supportive friends or family who encourage you to practice assertive communication.

A Journey Worth Taking

Developing assertiveness and overcoming low self-confidence is a process, not a single event. Be patient and kind to yourself. With professional support you can expect to make some real forward progress. Most therapists will be able to help, though they offer different ways of going about it, so have a look at the different therapeutic approaches offered by different therapists at Holborn Psychotherapy Practice to get an idea of what might suit you best.

Choice of approaches

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Existential Therapy

Eye Movement Desensitization  and Reprocessing

Integrative Psychotherapy

Psychodynamic Therapy

How we can help

  • Family relationships with children and adolescents

  • Fears around getting older and mortality

  • Feelings of hopelessness

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

  • Health anxiety

  • Loneliness and social isolation

  • Low mood and loss of motivation and purpose

  • Male identity and men’s issues

  • Marriage issues

  • Menopause and life changes issues

  • Mood swings

  • Obsessions and intrusive thoughts

  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

  • Panic Disorder

  • Professional and career difficulties

  • Postnatal depression and baby blues 

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