Tom can’t button his shirt…
Tom struggled to do up his shirt. He needed to connect every button because he couldn’t button the waistband of his trousers and needed to disguise that fact. He breathed in and did up the last button, but as he breathed out again he felt it strain. The thread would probably give way before the end of the day. Damn! He’d have to wear a sweater, and he’d be too hot all day.
‘Going back to work after my winter holiday is going to be awful’ he thought. ‘Everyone will notice the extra fat round my middle. They’ll all laugh at me. That girl in the next office, the one I’ve been trying to get to know for a while now, will never look at me. No-one would.’
Inner Critics affect our ability to be Assertive
Tom’s inner critic was having a field day. It was overgeneralising like mad. ‘Everyone’, ‘all’, ‘never’, ‘no-one’. These are all sweeping generalisations; examples of faulty thinking that affect our self esteem and therefore affect our ability to be assertive.
Do you have an inner critic? If you need to be more assertive, you almost certainly do. That damned voice that nags and complains, telling you how rubbish you are at this or that, or how things will ‘never’ work out for you. Trouble is, we tend to believe that voice.
You don’t have to believe your thoughts
If you realise that you have an inner critic that stops you behaving assertively, the first step is to acknowledge that it is just an old recording playing in your head like an ear-worm. You don’t have to believe it. Here is a step-by-step approach to changing the recording….
Step One – Acknowledge the inner critic. Recognise it for what it is. Say to yourself (gently) ‘Oh, there’s that inner critic again.’ If it is using a generalisation like:
challenge that thought. Ask yourself questions like ‘Everyone? Really? Could there ever be an exception?’
Step Two – Allow it to gently drift away. If you get a picture with the thought, make the picture smaller, black and white and let it drift off so far you can’t see it any more. If it’s the voice alone, sing what the critical voice is saying to the tune of ‘Happy Birthday’. I guarantee it will make you laugh and, in doing so, take the sting out of the words.
Step Three – Replace the words with something more positive and empowering. If you can visualise, picture these words being true, even if you don’t believe them yet.
You see, your brain has been wired to repeat those words from the past. Taking these simple steps will start the process of re-wiring. Eventually, your brain will get the message and the new, empowering, thoughts will become automatic.
Want to know more about being assertive? You might like my book ‘How to be Assertive’ available on kindle.