Webster’s defines assertive as disposed to or characterized by bold or confident statements and behavior. From my perspective, assertiveness is the blending of the ‘best’ qualities found in aggression and passivity, expressing your feelings but doing it in a way that does not degrade the other person or yourself.

It seems that being assertive in personal situations, when it often matters the most, is when we seem to find it so difficult. It seems ironic, that we would hide our needs and wants from the people closest to us, the people who probably care the most and often want for us the same things we want for ourselves.

In my experience, we often hide/mask our true selves to those closest to us out of fear. Fear that the other person can’t handle who we really are or fear that they won’t want to handle who we really are. Whether the fear is real or imagined, hiding who really are is not something most people can sustain forever. Eventually, what you really want comes to the surface.

Recently, both in my personal and professional life, I have run into people who don’t feel comfortable asking for simple things that everyone wants like connection, patience, someone to listen, quiet time, etc. Instead, each person stuffs their feels and hopes that the other person will just know what they need. That seems unfair.

What would it be like for you to challenge yourself to ask for what you need and want from the people around you?

I have been working with addicts for several years and I have learned that as unique the disease of addiction is, it is also startlingly similar to other diseases. As with other diseases and public health concerns, prevention is always easier and cheaper than treatment to eliminate the disease.

So if you are asking yourself if alcohol has become an issue for you, it probably a really good time for you to take a really hard look at what role alcohol plays in your life.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) IV-TR looks at several different factors when deciphering between dependence and abuse. Factors like increased tolerance, withdrawals, drinking to avoid with drawls, inability to cutback/stop on your own, social consequences (including trouble at work and legal issues), etc.

*Important note. If you are addicted to alcohol, withdrawals can be dangerous and may require medical attention to avoid/minimize symptoms like seizures and delirium tremens. If you have been drinking daily for a long period of time, it is necessary to consult a physician before trying to just go “cold turkey.” http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/alcohol-withdrawal-symptoms-treatments *

So how do you know if you are abusing alcohol or dependent? Well, that is a simple question with a complicated answer. Most people avoid looking at this question b/c they are worried about the stigma attached to addiction and I have lost count of how many times someone has said either in jest or seriously that they can’t imagine never drinking ever again. So, maybe there is a midway point.

Most 12 step advocates (which I would include myself in) don’t know about or don’t talk about moderation programs. And frankly, if you’re an addict, you will not be able to stick to a moderation plan for very long. But if you fall into the ‘abuse’ category, you may find some relief and success with moderating your drinking instead of absolute abstinence.

Most moderation programs, like Moderation Management (http://www.moderation.org) begin with a period of abstinence (usually 30-60 days), and then help you create a plan for moderating yourself. They typically offer a community of support online and/or locally and help you track your success around moderation.

If you are unable to moderate your drinking, it may be time to consider the possibility that you have a problem with alcohol. The good news is there are countless communities and resources to help you work through your addiction. Alcoholics Anonymous is probably the most well known and has the most empirical data supporting it but there are other options as well, CBT counseling, SMART Recovery, LifeRing Secular Recovery, Rational Recovery, etc. Like with most other things in life, I encourage your to try not only AA but at least one or two other programs to ensure the best fit.

Do you procrastinate? I do. After recently putting something simple off for about a week and laughing to myself when I finally forced myself to deal with it, I started to think about why I did that to myself.

I do not enjoy doing things that I think will be annoying. It sounds simple but when I step back and think about it that is what I put off. I don’t put off laundry, cleaning, etc. But I will absolutely put off a call to an insurance company or a trip to a crowded grocery store. I am typically annoyed with myself when the task that I put off is far simpler than I built it up to be.

Why do you procrastinate? Do you think that you will have more desire to complete the task later? You know that’s unlikely. Do you think that you work better under pressure? Research suggests that is not true.

Are you aware of the impact on others? Your procrastination can lead to more work for someone else, anger and hurt feelings.

It may be worth spending some time with yourself and thinking about if you procrastinate, why and who is affected by your procrastination.


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