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Using Assertiveness to Manage Your Anger with CBT

Part of the Managing Anger with CBT For Dummies Cheat Sheet (UK Edition)

You need to recognise that one of the key strategies for managing your anger with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is to be more assertive. Assertiveness isn’t the same thing as aggression: it involves respecting yourself and others.

Using an aggressive or passive-aggressive style to force others to respect you is impossible, but earning respect is something you can do. Keeping your rights and responsibilities in balance is a big part of being assertive; as a result, you’re earning respect by showing respect.

Some basic rights and responsibilities shared by everyone include:

  • Being respected: You have the right to be treated with respect, to be listened to and taken seriously. You’re as important as any other human being. You’re responsible for showing the same respect. Others are important too.

  • Making choices: You have the right to choose who you are and what you do. You’re responsible for accepting that others have the same right to choose. Choices always have consequences. You’re also responsible for the results of your choices, good or bad.

  • Messing up: You have the right to make mistakes. No one is perfect. Constant criticism from others says more about their problems than your abilities! You didn’t mean the mistake to happen, but you’re still responsible for the consequences of it.

  • Respecting equality: You have the right to have and express your opinions and feelings. Because everyone has an equal right, you’re responsible for understanding others’ positions and finding some sympathy for their feelings.

  • Saying ‘no’: You always have the right to say ‘no’ without feeling guilty. You’re responsible for accepting ‘no’ from others, even when you don’t like it.

  • Showing honesty: It’s your right to be honest about your feelings, thoughts, views and needs, even when it’s awkward. You’re responsible for being honest and open with others, without expecting them to know what you think and want automatically. You’re also responsible for expressing yourself without being insulting or damaging someone, physically or emotionally.

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