It was a showdown I’ll never forget.
I was taking my daily walk around our apartment complex in Tampa, FL when I heard a loud, angry hiss that stopped me in my tracks. There in front of me was a face-off the likes of which I’d only seen in a John Wayne movie: a huge tomcat had tried to play nasty with a ferocious snapping turtle who was not in the mood to play. I watched, incredulous, as the hissing turtle (turtles hiss?) stood upright on his hind legs, (turtles can stand up?) and lunged forward, totally intimidating that tom cat who had completely misjudged its prey. The cat was assertive. The turtle was aggressive.
I found myself cheering for the turtle.
When I came home and told the story to my husband, I mentioned that I wished I could be more like that turtle; now it was his turn to be incredulous. “You ARE that turtle!” he said.
I’d worked hard to be more assertive… maybe too hard. Had the assertiveness I’d pursued unintentionally turned into aggression? Determined to live my life in a more balanced manner, I began to study the difference between assertiveness and aggressiveness. I read, took notes, wrote in my journal and even now, years later, I look over those notes every so often to see how I’m doing.
OOPS, is my most frequent comment, but occasionally, I see some progress.
I’ve come to see that assertiveness is a response while aggressiveness tends to be more a reaction.