There is a fine line that separates assertiveness from bossiness. We think of assertiveness as a positive, helpful type of behavior that exudes a person’s confidence. Bossiness is an abrasive mode of behavior that is characterized by domination and ordering other people around.

Balanced behavior is assertive in the way of being confident about one’s right to be oneself without threatening the rights of other people, particularly of people with whom you disagree. Assertiveness also works to affirm a person’s rights without being aggressive or threatening other people’s rights, or permitting anyone else to deny or ignore one’s own rights or points of view.

Bossiness is unbalanced, aggressive, over-confident, threatening to the rights and consideration of other people. It assumes that other people are subordinates and should bow to will and authority. Bossiness assumes that other people’s rights and points of view can be readily dismissed as invalid by way of referring to some sort of authority or hierarchy.

A passage from The Tao by the sage Laotse, as translated by the late, great Alan Watts, describes a mellow form of assertiveness that rings true.

“The great Tao flows everywhere,
¬†—-to the left and to the right.
All things depend upon it to exist,
—-and it does not abandon them.

To its accomplishments it lays no claim.
It loves and nourishes all things,
—-but does not lord it over them.”

Take a few moments to reread the verse and contemplate it.

The statements are beautiful and elegant. They define a state of being without being dogmatic. You might say they convey the quality of live and let live.

There is a very disturbing trend going on today towards abridgment of liberty. It is marked with the promotion of authority, theocracy, and submission to the will of high ranking individuals. This trend of bossiness is anathema to our democratic republic and personal freedom. This iron-fistedness is unAmerican in spirit and is dishonest at its core.

There is a cacophony of aggressive speech and behavior in the world that is not conducive to human survival. It seems like it will become more strident in the near future. We need less bossiness and more assertiveness.

It’s easy to be bossy. I’ve caught myself in the act of being bossy. I’m guessing that most of us have some measure of bossiness inherent in our personalities. All primates seem to be bossy to certain degrees. The trick is to keep bossiness in check without becoming submissive and passive.

In an ideal world, we could all speak for ourselves and act in our own self-interest without the need for a statement of affirmation or declarations of independence. In this Utopian world we could be ourselves without threatening the same rights of our fellow inhabitants. Domineering attitudes will have gone the way of the dodo bird. We could advocate for ourselves and the downtrodden among us without playing the victim card.

If we’re honest, we know the United States has a checkered history of being aggressive and not living up to the high ideals upon which it was founded. Now, this bossiness is being turned inward upon ourselves to an unprecedented degree. The country and the world is engaged in a shouting match of bossiness from every quarter and point of view. This bossiness is not just annoying, it is dangerous to the survival of our nation and others.

In my opinion, we need a time out from bossiness. It is high time for respectful assertiveness. I hunger for a beautiful world of live and let live.

The Blue Jay of Happiness is contemplating an idea from the former Mormon leader Joseph B. Wirthlin. “The word ‘seek’ means to go in search of, try to discover, try to acquire. It requires an active, assertive approach to life.”

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in Books, Contemplation, Controversy, Health, Politics, religion and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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