What happens when you are not assertive?

When you use aggressive, passive, or passive-aggressive communication styles with others, this can affect your life and your relationships in several ways. There are certainly benefits to these communication styles, but they also come at a cost.

For example, if you communicate in a passive style, you are not giving yourself the opportunity to say what you think or feel, or to have your voice heard. These emotions can also contribute to activation of our threat system and when active you might have given up on asking for help, or are not getting the support you need. Or you may be in ‘drive’, and find yourself always agreeing with others, or feeling like you have to say yes, even if someone is making an unreasonable demand. Whilst you might feel good about helping others, and people might praise you for your behaviour, this comes at a cost. Often you end up feeling you have little control over our life. You may feel stressed, anxious, or even resentful of others and if you try to force yourself to help, or feel unable to ask for help, this can make your ME/CFS symptoms worse.

On the other hand, if you tend to communicate in an aggressive style, you can stand up for what you believe in, share your opinions and your beliefs, but in a way that violates the rights of others. This means that you might get what you “want” more often, and you can feel powerful in doing so. However, you may also start to lose your relationships with those around you, or no longer enjoy being with those close to you. Being angry and tense can also keep your threat system active, which can contribute to increasing the symptoms of ME/CFS.   Over time, aggressive communication means your interactions with others are often based on negative emotions like anger or hurt, and you might feel guilty and ashamed of your behaviour. This can impact on your ‘social slice’ of your fatigue pie and leave you feeling isolated or lonely.