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What assertiveness book would interest you?

My book ‘How To Be Assertive’ will be on kindle soon and I am thinking what other book to write on this topic. What would interest you? Some ideas I have are:

The Assertive Woman

The Assertive Man

Being Assertive at Work

The Assertive Relationship.

I’d love your ideas – do post them below. Thanks!Image

How Vikki’s faulty thinking stopped her finding a man

It was the first day of the new year and Vikki decided she’d been alone for long enough. Divorced for three years, she hadn’t had a single date since. Yet she longed to have a special someone in her life, and her biological clock was ticking so loudly it was deafening at times.

Right, she thought, logging on, I’m going to find me a man.

She was surprised with the choice; there were quite a few guys in her age group who lived within an hour of her home. At least half a dozen were worth contacting. She went to grab her credit card to sign up to the dating site.

I’ll just have a coffee first, she thought.

As she sat there sipping her drink, she started to think:

‘He’ll think I’m not attractive enough.’

‘He’s slim and I could do with losing some weight. He won’t fancy me.’

‘He’s sure to think I’m too old for him, even though we’re the same age. Men always want someone younger.’

She put away her credit card with a sigh. This new year she is still single and the biological clock is ticking ever louder.

Vikki had been struck down by another faulty thinking type – Mind Reading.

Knowing very little about the guys on the website she mind read them. She decided that she knew what they would think about her, before they’d even as much as exchanged emails.

Mind reading is an effective way to sabotage yourself. We probably all do it at times, but some people do it so much, it stops them getting on with their life.

Sound like you? Do you hesitate to act assertively because you ‘mind read’ the person you want to speak to, assuming they will be thinking negatively about you?

In my last blog, I highlighted some questions that will help you overcome faulty thinking. So, catch your faulty thoughts and ask yourself:

  • Is that true?
  • Is it verifiably true?
  • Would people who care for me say this about me?
  • Is the thought unhelpful, stopping me from doing what I want to do?
  • What would be more empowering to think?

Challenge your thoughts with these questions and you can start to change your beliefs. Consider what you would say to someone who thought these negative things about themselves. What advice would you give them?

 Get yourself a notebook, one that is small enough to carry around. Each time someone pays you a compliment, write it down. It doesn’t have to be a big compliment, even a ‘thank you, that’s great’ is an acknowledgement of something you did well. As you write down the compliment, you might feel uncomfortable. That’s okay, you’re just on the road to letting go of old hurtful feelings. Relax your body and repeat the compliment to yourself, out loud or in your head. Do this a few times until you can read it comfortably. If any negative, and contradictory, thoughts pop into your head, gently acknowledge

them and let them drift away. Return to your compliment. Keep this practice going until you have filled a notebook, then get another one if you need to. Doing this will help you to appreciate yourself.

Give it a try. What have you got to lose?

Faulty Thinking ruins Janice’s day…

It was a dark, cold, December night. The rain blew horizontally across the platform as she waited for the train. It was already twenty minutes late. Her fingers were going numb as she held her briefcase; she didn’t dare put in on the ground, too many puddles.

There was no waiting room in this isolated Fen location and the pathetic ‘shelter’ laughed at her attempts to keep dry. She could see a nearby road. Cars sped by, their drivers warm and dry, no doubt looking forward to getting home soon. Even without delays she knew her journey would take three hours. It was always the same when she worked here for a day – two trains, a tube ride and a twenty minute walk each way. She knew she’d get home exhausted, ratty and wanting nothing more than to get to bed. Not much fun for her husband a kids.

If only she was brave enough to use her GPS, she could have driven here in an hour and half. But she just knew she couldn’t learn to use technology. It always went wrong in her hands; it would probably blow up or something.

Janice is a victim of ‘faulty thinking’. A capable, intelligent woman, she believes that she can’t use technology so she doesn’t try.

What is ‘Faulty Thinking”? 

Faulty thinking consists of thoughts that are:

a) not based on fact, but on (often unconscious) beliefs

b) unhelpful.

Should we believe all our thoughts?

Not necessarily, and not if those thoughts are not helpful. Let’s look at just one type of faulty thinking – the tendency to believe all our thoughts.

Thoughts just pop into our head, we don’t ask them to come, sometimes we wish they didn’t come.

Let’s have a look at some common unhelpful thoughts that meet our criteria above: they’re not based on fact, and are unhelpful.

‘I’m a fat cow’

Isn’t this awful? Women, in particular, are often so amazingly critical of themselves that they call themselves unbelievably ugly names. They’d never say this to someone else. Sure, you may be above a healthy body weight, but you are not a cow. You are a unique human being with many fine qualities: your weight does not define who you are.

‘I’m useless’

I’ve never come across a useless person yet. Some people are challenging, others under-motivated, but no-one is useless. Janice is a victim of this thinking, and it affects her confidence to try to learn technology. So she often tells herself she’s useless, when in fact she is super skilled at her job, has many friends and is a kind and loving mother and wife.

‘I couldn’t do that’

It’s perfectly true that we can’t all do everything we want. I’d be taller if I could, but short of major surgery, it’s not going to happen. But almost everyone can do so much more than they believe. Believing negative thoughts about your capability can stop you even trying to do something.

Where do these thoughts come from?

The simple answer is that they come from a variety of sources: from our upbringing, from people we know; from the media, from the world around us. All these influences shape our thoughts, as well as our feelings and behaviour.

The good news is that we don’t have to believe our thoughts! Isn’t that amazing!

Lots of our negative thoughts are untrue; some are even downright lies. We wouldn’t believe them if someone else said them. So don’t be afraid to question those rogue thoughts. Ask yourself:

  • is this true?
  • is this verifiably true?
  • is this thought helpful?
  • what would be more helpful to believe?

Going back to the examples above, what would more helpful thoughts be?

‘I’m a fat cow’  can become ‘I need to lose some weight, but I’m still a worthwhile person.’

‘I’m useless’ can become ‘I’m not very good at technical things, but there are plenty of other things I do well.’

‘I couldn’t do that’ can become ‘I could learn how to do that.’

 Try this!

Try these new, empowering thoughts on for size

Remember, you are not responsible for the thoughts that pop into your head, but you can choose what to do with them.

Here’s a great tip. If you catch yourself believing an unhelpful thought, Stop! Relax your body, and ask yourself what you could think instead. Identify a thought that is more positive and empowering.

Now, with your body relaxed, think the new thought in a kindly and compassionate tone. It doesn’t matter if you don’t believe it yet. Just repeating this new thought to yourself will mean you start to change your brain patterns. This means that eventually you will find the new thought has replaced the old one. After all, this type of thinking is just a habit, and habits can be changed.

Imagine enjoying your life free from those old, hurtful thoughts. Go on, give this technique a try. What have you got to lose?

You can read more about faulty thinking in my book ‘How to be Assertive’. Click on the ad on this page to find it on amazon. You might like to download a sample to see if it’s for you.

Five Tips for Surviving the Holiday

Surviving the holiday season

 

Christmas is coming fast, and while many people look forward to it, others face it with dread. Even one day spent in close proximity with family can seem like a year. Image

Here are five tips to get you through Christmas, allowing you to keep your cool and your assertive behaviour.

  1. Don’t make yourself broke buying everything.

I recently heard about someone who plans to cook an eight course meal for thirty family members. The meat bill alone is £750.00. This person is not well off. Crazy! Don’t get in debt just to impress your guests. Ask them to bring something towards food, drink or entertainment. Be specific so there is no duplication. You’ll be surprised how willing people are to contribute.

2.  Don’t wear yourself out cooking.

I learned years ago to cheat. Frozen roast potatoes (yum!), frozen yorkshire puddings, instant gravy, whatever. If you can’t bear to do that, get your guests to share the tasks. Again, be specific. ‘Tom, I’d like you to peel the potatoes, Mary, can you peel the sprouts and chop the cabbage.’

Share the work and you won’t be tired and tetchy before you’ve even started eating.

 3.  Plan how to respond to difficult people.

Okay, you know which relative is a pain in the neck. The one who winds you up each year with sarcastic comments or heavy sighs. Plan how you’ll respond. Here are some suggestions:

‘I’m sorry you need to comment on that.’

‘Thank you for your comment.’

‘I’ll keep that in mind.’

Get the idea? Just a quick phrase, calmly said. Then walk away and get on with something else. If they see they can’t irritate you, they’ll get bored with trying.

 4.  Ask for help with clearing up.

Don’t go all martyr-like. No-one likes a martyr, and they often get ignored so your efforts will probably go unnoticed. Make your requests straightforward, no insincere flattery. Keep your voice calm and clear:

‘I’d like some help now we’ve finished our meal. John, would you and Jane clear the table. Tom and Mary, would you load the dishwasher please? I’ll wipe all the worktops and put everything away.’

Better still, warn people ahead of time that you would like them to do some tasks.

 5.  Offer entertainment.

If your family like to slump in front of the TV, that’s fine. But do consider offering alternatives like boxed games or a walk. Ask for suggestions before the day.

 Planning ahead for how you will act assertively will make your day so much more relaxed. Give it a try, what have you got to lose?

Use visualisation to beat worries

worried headache man

This very effective way of overcoming worry works on

your emotional brain by literally allowing you to ‘see’ things differently. You may need to practice the visualisations several times before they reduce the immediate emotional impact of worry.

If you’re not good at visualising, just sense this in what ever way works for you.

Visualisation One

Sit somewhere quiet and close your eyes. Get a mental picture of whatever is worrying you. If it is difficult to visualise imagine a gloomy rain cloud with the name of the worry written on it. Relax your body. Next imagine a huge box, big enough to contain the worry. Place the worry in it. Now place the box outside the door knowing that you can pick it up again or leave it as you decide.

Visualisation Two

Relax your body. Get a mental picture of whatever is worrying you. If you can, make the picture black and white. Put a frame round the picture – it is now a photograph. Shrink the picture until it is quite small. Now imagine a distant wall. Put the picture on it. It’s there in the distance but you can’t really make out the detail. If you ever need to refer to it, you know where to find it, otherwise leave it where it is.

Does shyness stop you being assertive?

Does shyness stop you being assertive? It can certainly lead to passive behaviour, particularly in social situations.

Shyness often comes about when we are turning our attention inwards. We think too much about what others may think about us. Often we ‘mind read’ people, and assume that people will be thinking negative things about us.

So, what can you do about shyness?

Turn your attention outwards – away from yourself. There are a number of ways you can do this:Image

* really listen to what the other person is saying (instead of worrying what they think of you). Aim to make the conversation enjoyable for them.

* if you don’t know what to say, look around the room and comment on something you see. Perhaps a beautiful mirror or an attractive view. Alternatively, ask the person a question about themselves (most non-shy people love talking about themselves). Or give them a sincere compliment (most people like that).

* be aware of what is happening in the world or the local community. This will give you something to talk about.

And do some mental rehearsal before you go to the event where you would normally be shy. Imagine yourself being there, see yourself looking relaxed and at ease, chatting easily to people. As you do this, relax your body because this will give your brain the message that this image is valid. You’ll be priming your brain to act differently when you are at the event.

Shyness can be overcome. Start today to take active steps to change things for the better.

Scary people? Not any more!

I was delivering some team building for a committee recently. The members were incredibly varied.

 

ImageSome were ground floor workers, some were managers and others were directors. One was the managing director. There had been an issue with lack of feedback to senior managers about problems the workers were facing, and the problems were causing low morale.

What, I wondered, caused this lack of communication? Were the managers so busy with their computers, blue sky thinking or whatever that they tended to ignore their staff. Hey, lots of managers do this. People can be a pain – you know – irrational, demanding, difficult. I bet you’ve worked for a boss who thinks like that. They’d rather email people than say ‘Good morning!’

But perhaps that wasn’t the answer, or not the whole answer. Maybe the workers had an ‘us and them’ approach. After all, many people are intimidated by people with a title grander than their own. And many people have been bought up with a ‘respect your elders and betters’ belief. My grandmother regularly used to say, ‘They all go to the toilet like us, dear!’ But at the same time, she would never have dreamed of challenging any professional person on anything at all. In fact, she called them Toffs.

I’ve always noticed how even people in authority are the same as everyone else. A varied bunch: some approachable and kind, some difficult and aloof, others somewhere in between.

If you find yourself hesitating to speak assertively to someone with more professional power than you, you can try this trick…

Get a mental image of the person. 

Got it?

Now give them Mickey Mouse ears and big red nose.

Smiling yet?

Add a revolving bow tie.

What colour was the bow tie?

Now dress them in a big, baggy t-shirt and tight, tight cycle shorts. 

Stomach turning yet?

Odd shoes and socks complete the picture.

How scary are they now? 

If you think this is too disrespectful or might make you laugh at an inconvenient moment, there is an alternative. Simply make your mental image of them black and white, small and distant.

Does your body language sabotage communication?

It is said that a whopping 65% of the message others receive from us in a face-to-face conversation is non-verbal. That means not just what we look like, and what we wear, but our body language. If our body language conflicts with our words it is likely we won’t be believed. At the least, the other person will be left feeling unsure of our sincerity.

Try this!

Identify an assertive person of the same sex whose body language you admire. Study what they do, how they hold themselves, their gestures. Then decide which aspects of their behaviour you would like to copy. Try them out in a non-threatening situation such as when chatting with friends. It will feel a bit odd at first, but you will be surprised that no-one will consciously notice. They may, though, respond to you more positively. It’s a great feeling. Give it a try. What have you got to lose?