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NONASSERTIVENESS TRAINING AND THE FEMALE STRESS SYNDROME: RETRAINING YOURSELF

As in other areas of the Female Stress Syndrome, understanding the origins of a particular type of stress is only half the battle. Reducing that stress is the very important other half. If you feel that vacillating between the need for achievement and the fear of failure or fear of success is a long-term, chronic source of tension for you, try to bring the problem under control using these techniques.

Gather information, rather than opinions, about a problem or situation. This will increase your capacity to assess things realistically, and decrease the anticipatory anxiety you may be feeling. The only important opinion will be your own, after you have processed all the information you can.

Similarly, look at all situations involving your goals through your eyes only; don't try to see yourself as others see you. Spectatoring (looking at yourself to see if you appear to have failed) will only hamper your ability to pursue goals and will usually produce inaccurate information anyway.

Try to experience falling short of a goal as unfortunate, or as a learning experience, or as a disappointment, rather than as a failure. This means you must describe your behavior, not judge it.

Avoid self-blame at all times. Try your best, but don't put yourself on trial. Be your own defense lawyer—not the lawyer for the prosecution.

Be task-oriented rather than a praise addict. Focus on finishing a job, not showing it off, and you will reduce your performance anxiety and fear of failure at the same time.

As you work at overcoming the nonassertiveness training you have had, and the female stress symptoms that accompany that training, it may help to remember that you are something of a role-model pioneer. You are on the forefront of social change, but you are not alone. You will be helping the next generation of women come up with some guidelines to aid them in expressing their own needs for achievement. And you will be helping the next generation of men establish more realistic and open-minded expectations for female achievement, as well.

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