Practicing Assertiveness When You Have ADHD

Very early Sunday morning I was waiting in line at Montreal’s airport. Despite the early hour, the airport was crowded and the lines at each of the security points were the longest I had ever seen them. People were patiently waiting; however there was an older gentleman who became quite distressed as he realized he would miss his flight due to the slow movement of the line. He attracted the attention of one of the officials, however they merely shrugged unhelpfully. Then two European men in their mid 30’s went to the aid of the older man, they asked all the people in the queue ahead of him would they mind if he jumped ahead of them to catch his flight. Of course no one minded and the man went quickly through security.

I was struck not only by the kindness of these men, but also how assertive they were on the other man’s behalf. Being assertive is a good quality. It means standing up for what is important to you in a cool, calm and collected way.

Practicing Assertiveness with ADHDWe all have different levels of assertiveness, and they can vary within each person depending on the situation. Some people can be assertive looking after the needs of others but not their own. Some days you can be more assertive than others. Sometimes it’s easier to be assertive when you are with a friend as you have moral support. Sometimes you can be assertive about a particular issue, but struggle in other areas.

Having ADHD can make being assertive harder. You might not know if it’s “ok” to feel like this, whether it’s an acceptable feeling, or if it’s just you. You might feel you stand out already without drawing extra attention to yourself. Being shy also makes being assertive harder. The good news is that being assertive is like a muscle that you can develop and grow.

Having ADHD might mean you need to assert yourself more than other people. For example, a university student might need to talk to his professors to make sure his unique study needs are understood and met. A person in a new romantic relationship might need to explain how ADHD affects her to her new boyfriend, etc.

The benefit of being assertive is that life is more enjoyable and less stressful when you can rely on yourself to handle whatever comes your way.

So why not try the 30 Day Assertive Challenge?

The concept is simple. . . Every day assert yourself at least once.

The benefits will be huge. Start to notice how empowered you feel.

Here are some tips to help you:

  1. Start with service providers. For example, if you order a large coffee and are given a small coffee, assert yourself and ask for your order to be changed. They are “easy” because it’s their job to provide you with good service. Also, they aren’t part of your day to day life so if you are worried that you will embarrass yourself (you won’t but it’s a common fear) knowing you won’t see that person again helps to practice your assertiveness.
  2. If you are shy join your local Toastmasters. It’s a great way to learn to speak in front of people and be confident that you can be articulate when you need to think on the spot.
  3. Think about the area or areas of your life you are already assertive. There will be at least one. This will help to give you confidence that you can be assertive as you grow your assertive muscle.
  4. Notice and enjoy the benefits of the new, assertive you. You will no longer have to tolerate or “put up” with anything that annoys you. This leads to a much happier you.

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