Get your own way

Russian teenager Natasha Demkina has just taken a course in medical terminology, learning the names of the bones, muscles and organs in a human body.

We all know people who can bulldoze straight through other people’s objections and feelings. “Get out of my way,” they shout, “or you’ll get hurt!” Very often, they do get exactly what they want – but they also make an enemy of the whole world. And enemies have a habit of taking revenge. Bullies don’t prosper for long. Sooner or later they meet people who are even more aggressive than they are. Sadly, there are also many people who look in horror at the bullies and think, “I’d hate to be like that. If that’s what it takes to get your own way in life, then I’ll settle for being a nice person who has to miss out.” This passive attitude attracts bullies like jam attracts wasps. If you act as if it’s your lot to be forever trampled and cheated, there will always be a queue of aggressive people ready to walk all over you. Bullies don’t respect what anyone else wants. Passive people don’t respect their own needs. To be happy, you must avoid both those mistakes. Be assertive. Respect your own needs, and be mindful of what other people want too. Being assertive means you state your feelings clearly. You say, “I am going to get what I want – tell me what you want too, and let’s co-operate so we can both get our own way.” It’s all about self-respect and respect for others. When you learn that, you’re on track for a happy life. That’s such a simple lesson, but it took me half my life to learn it. I can’t think why schools don’t teach children how to be assertive. Self-respect, plus respect for others: it should be everyone’s first lesson!


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