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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Individuation, Assertiveness and Conflicts

Individuation, assertiveness and conflicts can be healthy when they are born of a need to grow. As adults, we need to assert individual differences and individual rights as part of our individuation process, just as a two-year-old children need to do.

When we push and test to discover limits and exercise our ability to say no during external conflicts, we are not creating dysfunctional conflict. Rather we are giving birth to ourselves as more independent and, powerful.

But that process, so normal and natural to two year olds, can be uncertain. Each time we need to assert our individual rights we face dealing with conflict. But being assertive is central to becoming more independent and thinking for ourselves.

When we become acutely aware of issues involving resistance, compliance and rebellion, as well as contrariness and control, assertive behavior is the next step.
Here's how one woman put it, "I know I need to become more independent because I'm repeatedly finding things wrong. " At age 54, she was discovering that her need to be more independent meant reclaiming territory others had tried to take away.

And the first people to notice her new-found assertiveness were her family members – her husband and children. "I'd been thinking so much about them and their needs that I hadn't left any time to think about me," she said. "Eventually I started getting really angry and we were pushing each other emotionally. Still I think they're happy I'm learning to say no.

Later as she gained more confidence in her independence, she took on the authorities at work about a company policy. The higher-ups didn't like it at first, but eventually they ended up thanking her, because her willingness to hang in there and maintain her position in the face of their opposition saved the company a huge lawsuit.

Developing new levels of healthy autonomy is not always a comfortable process, and one that's often not supported by cultures, especially authoritarian ones who operate to pressure individuals into accepting limitations on their personal power. If we accept that, however, we enter a destructive process in which we lose our dreams our hope and become dispirited.

Urges toward independence, when thwarted and held within, can also produce massive stress and lead to a variety of physical illnesses. Compared to those negative outcomes, facing a little discomfort during conflicts is not a big price to pay.

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Source White Market

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