Assertiveness and Anxiety: How Expressing Yourself Can Lead to a Happier Self

By: Sanjita Ekhelikar

“Communication is key” is a phrase we are all familiar with, yet many struggle with actually acting on it. The most effective form of communication is through assertiveness, which involves expressing one’s views in a straightforward manner, and in standing up for one’s needs while still being considerate of others. This differs from aggressiveness in that it does not involve being outwardly emotional or insulting to others, and differs from passivity in that the individual clearly states their feelings and desires. Being assertive involves open communication, which can be difficult to engage in, especially for people struggling with anxiety. However, through practicing and learning assertiveness, people with anxiety can actually feel less worry and more confident in themselves.

Anxiety describes the uncomfortable feelings of turmoil and dread that one might have in anticipation that results in physical sensations such as rapid heartbeat, sweating, and rumination. For many who struggle with anxiety, the thought of being assertive with others makes them anxious. They often worry that being assertive will come off as being mean, creating conflict, and being inconsiderate. Therefore, many choose passive communication, and never voice their views or feelings. This worsens their state of worry, as they are not properly understood by those around them and can easily be taken advantage of. They are often misunderstood which increases their worry. Others often take advantage of them because of their meek manner and visible anxiety.

Contrary to what those with anxiety believe, assertiveness can actually help them feel better. Often times, those with anxiety create situations in their mind about everything that will go wrong if they voice themselves to another person. However, such a form of open communication can create a better understanding between two people. It allows the person with anxiety to be properly understood, to dispel the fearful thoughts in their head, and become more confident in themselves and their views.

How can people with anxiety begin working towards being more assertive? By stating their views using “I,” individuals can avoid putting blame on others by expressing their own opinions. In addition, reminding themselves that their fears are not rational and that it is their anxiety talking to them can help them become increasingly comfortable with being assertive. Finally, practice makes perfect – keep trying and speak up!

If you or someone you know is suffering from anxiety, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit

Social Anxiety Disorder

Signs and Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder:

By: Cassie Sieradzky

Social anxiety disorder is characterized by severe anxiety and excessive self-consciousness in everyday social situations. An individual with social anxiety disorder may have a persistent, intense, and chronic fear of being watched and judged by others, which can interfere with their daily functioning. Social anxiety disorder can be limited to only one type of situation, such as a fear of speaking or performing in public, or whenever an individual is around other people. The feared situation is avoided or endured with extreme anxiety and distress. In addition, they often experience low self-esteem and depression and have a hard time making or keeping friends.

Physical symptoms such as blushing, profuse sweating, upset stomach, and trembling often accompany the intense stress of social anxiety disorder. These visible symptoms intensify the fear of disapproval and often become an additional focus of fear. As people with social anxiety disorder worry about experiencing the physical symptoms, the greater their chances are of developing them.

About seven percent of the U.S. population is estimated to have social anxiety disorder within a 12-month period. Social anxiety disorder occurs twice as often in women than men and typically begins in childhood or early adolescence. Social anxiety disorder often runs in families and may be comorbid with depression or other anxiety disorders, such as panic disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder. It is not uncommon for individuals with social anxiety disorder to self-medicate with alcohol or other drugs, which can lead to addiction.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a form of psychotherapy that is very effective in treating social anxiety. CBT and behavioral therapy are used to reduce anxiety by managing negative beliefs or behaviors that help maintain the disorder. Medications, in conjunction with psychotherapy, can also play a role in treatment.

If you or a loved one appears to be suffering from social anxiety disorder, licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit

Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia). (n.d.). Retrieved March 26, 2018, from