Tag: assertive

Tom can’t button his shirt…

3d-man-carrying-heavy-job-sign-overworking-concept_zket4nRO.jpg

Sad businessman sitting at workplace and trying to find solution of problem
Life feels heavy at times

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, struggling, did up the last button. But as he breathed out again he felt it strain. Damn! He’d have to wear a sweater, and he’d be too hot all day. He felt like Mr Blobby.

‘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:

‘Everyone’

‘No-one’

‘Always’

‘Never’

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.

*** Try This! ***

 Go ahead and try the technique above. You’ll be delighted with the results.

I’d love to what you think of these ideas. Do leave a comment below.

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Do you mind read before a date?

ImageIt 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 signed up to a couple of internet dating sites. Several of her friends had met interesting men through them.

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.

I’ll just have a coffee before I contact them, 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 closed down the websites 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 an earlier 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?

*** Try this! ***

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?

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Do you have any questions about assertiveness? Are there any topics you’d like me to write about? I’d love to hear from you. You can write in the comments box below.

Is life one catastrophe after another?

Interview and key concept
Keeping cool is the key to great interviews

James opened the letter excitedly. Yes! 

He punched the air triumphantly. He’d done it. He’d got an interview for a job he really wanted. Now for the preparation. He’d already done quite a bit at the application stage. He’d researched the organisation and the vacancy. He’d worked out exactly how his skills matched those they needed. He’d worked out the questions they were likely to ask, based on the Person Specification. And he’d decided how he would answer them.

On the day of the interview, he looked great. Best suit and tie, new haircut, shiny shoes. He sat on the train reading through his notes again, feeling as confident as he could be.

Then the train ground to a halt.

James wasn’t worried, he’d got about half an hour leeway. Nonetheless, he found himself looking at his watch every minute or two. It was fully ten minutes later before an announcement came over the loudspeakers:

We apologise for the delay, ladies and gentlemen. This is due to an engine failure. Another train is on its way. It should be here in about forty minutes. We apologise for any inconvenience.

Groans were heard from every part of the carriage, James noticed. He also noticed that everyone then got on with what they were doing, reading; chatting; sleeping.

But not him.

His mind went into panic mode. I’ll be late! They’ll think I’m hopeless! If I don’t get this job, I’ll be out of work for years! It’s taken me forty three applications to get this one interview. I’ll never get another! At my age, no-one will want to employ me.

He started to sweat, his breaths became shallower and faster, his heart raced and he felt faint. He couldn’t think straight.

James had been struck by faulty thinking – he was catastrophising.

Because of his negative assumptions that everything would be catastrophic, his thinking went haywire and he assumed the worst. Catastrophic thinking will do that to you.

Eventually, James remembered that he read somewhere that taking a few deep breaths while relaxing his shoulders was a good way to get in control of his feelings. He tried it. To his surprise, it worked. He could think again.

He got out his mobile phone, called the company he was going to see and explained the situation. They were fine with him, and agreed to add him to the end of their list of candidates for the day.

*** Try this! *** 

 If you find yourself catastrophising, catch that thought. It stops you acting logically and assertively. Like James, take some deep breaths while you relax your body. Say to yourself Calm, calm. You’ll soon get back in control. Then you can work out what you can do about the situation.

Ask yourself questions like:

What’s the worst that can happen?

How likely is it that the worst will happen?

What is more likely to happen?

How can I help myself now to deal with this situation?

Using these simple techniques can make your life a lot calmer. Give it a try. What have you got to lose?

Have you tried these techniques? How did you get on?

Being Assertive Takes Courage. What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

ImageWe often think of courage as a quality that people demonstrate when they climb a mountain, rescue someone from a burning building or skydive. It’s true, they are all acts of courage. But bravery doesn’t only include physical risk.

Another type of courage is that needed when we decide to change our behaviour. The behaviour we have now is what we are familiar with. It may or may not serve us well, but we accept it as ‘who we are’.

Changing behaviour takes courage. If you have previously dealt with frustrating situations by losing your temper, it takes courage to stop yourself, calm yourself down and act assertively.

Perhaps you’ve done the opposite, avoiding confrontational situations altogether, by being accommodating to everyone, even at your own expense. If so, it takes courage to plan how to deal with the situation assertively to do it. Real courage.

So let’s think about your own courage.

What would you do differently if you weren’t afraid?

What would you try?

What would you stop doing?

*** Try This! ***

Read a biography of someone whose courage inspires you. Ask yourself what you can learn from their attitude. How can you make that attitude your own, applying it to your wish to be more assertive?

I’d love to know how you have courageously taken a step towards being assertive. Let me know in the comments box below.

Nine ways to be happier

Image of happy woman with outstretched arms standing in field
Want to feel this good? Follow these easy steps.

You may be wondering why I am writing about happiness when this is a blog on assertiveness. The truth is that it’s easier to be assertive when you are feeling good. It gives you an inner strength, a resilience that supports you through even difficult conversations. Which of these suggestions can you use?

Be Sociable – spend time with people who make you feel good. Make face to face connections with colleagues, friends and family. Try to stop seeing people who make you feel bad.

Look after your body – it’s hard to feel happy if you are feeling unwell, sluggish or have regular hangovers. Eat well, drink alcohol in moderation.

Exercise – some people think this means going to the gym or doing a marathon, but that’s not the case. Just get moving. If your job is sedentary, get up about once an hour and walk around, have a good stretch. Go for a walk in your lunch break. Take the dog for a walk. Walk up stairs instead of taking the lift.

Sleep Well – follow a sleep routine to get 7 to 8 hours sleep each night. No screens of any sort for an hour before bedtime. A dark bedroom with a comfortable temperature. No alcohol (it may make you fall asleep but you’ll wake up in the middle of the night and be unable to get back to sleep)

Have goals for your life – these can be small goals like getting a piece of work done, bigger goals like getting fit or losing weight, or life changing goals like finding a new partner or a new job. Write your goals somewhere where you can see them regularly. Imagine what life will be like when you’ve achieved them then work backwards step by step drawing up your action plan.

Spent time in nature – do some gardening, take a walk in your lunch break, go hiking at weekends. Take time to enjoy what you see in nature.

Relax – download a meditation or hypnotic recording. Learn some relaxation techniques. A great one is to relax your shoulders and then breath in as you slowly count to five and out as you count to seven at the same speed. Repeat a few times.

Give back – research shows that helping others not only makes us feel better but it boosts our immune system. So help others, volunteer, give to charity, do whatever you can do to give back.

Laugh – watch comedies, go to comedy films, spend time with people who make you laugh.

OVER TO YOU – do you have any tricks you use to feel good? I’d love to know them. Tell me in the comments box.

Interesting article on Assertiveness in psychcentral.com

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2015/09/05/assertiveness-the-art-of-respecting-your-needs-while-also-respecting-others-needs/

What did you think of the article? I know that so many people worry that if they assertively state their needs they won’t be liked any more or will feel as if they are being selfish. But remember to treat yourself with the same respect you would treat others and you won’t go far wrong.

You’ll find many more tips in my book ‘How to be Assertive’, you’ll find it here.. http://goo.gl/bxQGxT

Sex and Assertive Communication

I was amazed recently that a 24 year old woman I know had unprotected sex on holiday with a man she had just met. She didn’t insist on using condoms because ‘It’s embarrassing to talk about that sort of stuff.’ This professional and intelligent woman was prepared to risk pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases rather than state what she wanted. She’s not alone. Some research by the Assertive Sexual Communication Research Group found that of the students they studied, 33.79% of males and 41.87% of females reported feeling uncomfortable communicating something in a sexual situation. In the first of (at least) two blogs on this topic I list below four key steps to using assertiveness in intimate situations.

Key Step One – You have the right to say ‘No!’ Elizabeth Powell in her excellent book ‘Talking Back to Sexual Pressure’ lists 15 sexual rights we all have. A very important one is the right ‘to refuse any type of sexual contact, regardless of how aroused the partners might be.’ That’s right. Your partner is hot and ready, but that doesn’t mean you have to say ‘Yes’. You still have the right to say ‘no’, even if until then you have been enjoying some heavy petting. This is your right.

Key Step Two – Recognise manipulation I remember as a teenager being told all the tricks guys get up to to get you to agree to sex. Things like:

  • ‘If you love me, you’ll let me have sex,’
  • ‘You got me aroused, you’ve got to have sex with me now.’
  • ‘It’s not good for a guy to get this horny and not have sex’
  • ‘If you say no now, you’re a bitch.’

Don’t fall for it. It is manipulation. Try these assertive responses:

Their manipulation Your assertive response
If you love me, you’ll let me have sex I can love you, yet choose not to have sex with you.
You got me aroused, you’ve got to have sex with me now. I appreciate you are aroused, but I still don’t have to have sex with you.
It’s not good for a guy to get this horny and not have sex. If you are horny, go somewhere private and deal with it. I don’t want to have sex.
‘If you say no now, you’re a bitch. I’m not a bitch for saying no, and if you continue to call me names, I won’t see you again.

Key Step Three – Avoid risk situations Do you know that after a few drinks you are likely to do things you’ll later regret? If so, don’t drink in a situation where you may later wish you hadn’t had sex. Do you sometimes go to places where you may be unsafe? Walk alone late at night? It’s certainly true that you shouldn’t have to worry about these things, but sadly it is an absolute necessity.

Key Step Four – Ask for what you want If you are in an intimate situation, it’s okay to ask for what you want. Really. So, go ahead and say things like:

  • ‘Move your hand like this’
  • ‘Keep doing that, it’s great’
  • ‘Don’t do that, I don’t like it’
  • ‘Let’s just cuddle tonight’

Remember, while you have the right to make your request, the other person has the right to say ‘no’. The exception to this is if you ask them to stop doing something. Then you have the right to insist.

I’d love to read your comments on this article. Just type them in the box below.

You can Shine

Yesterday somebody reminded me of the speech made by the late Nelson Mandela. It included the words below:

Our Deepest Fear

by Marianne Williamson from A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles

‘Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? 

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.

There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine, as children do.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others’

*****************

 This is such a wonderful piece of writing and one you can return to again and again if you hesitate to be assertive. I love the line ‘There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.’  So many people feel that they must fit in; they shouldn’t put themselves forward or stand out. It means that they never show who they really are. They never achieve their full potential.

And isn’t it exhilarating to realise that if we allow ourselves to shine, we give permission for others to do so. Being assertive is not about putting people down, or being aggressive. It’s not about hiding our skills and talents so others don’t have the benefits of sharing them. It’s about owning that side of yourself that is thoughtful, tactful, straightforward, encouraging and positive. Do this and you’ll be a great role model for those around you.

***** Try this! ****

Imagine yourself behaving assertively during the coming week. Note what would be different in how you behave and feel, and how others respond to you. Select one or two events/discussions and actually do it. Choose non-threatening situations where, if you think about it, nothing bad can actually happen. If you are successful, give yourself a huge pat on the back. If it doesn’t go quite to plan, that’s okay. Consider what you can learn from the experience for next time. There is no failure while you are still trying.

I’d love to hear from you

What topics related to assertiveness would you like to see in a future blog? Write to let me know in the comments box below.

Strong Emotions Make You Stupid!

When I was training to be a hypnotherapist, I remember being told Strong Emotions make you stupid!

Now, there’s a thought. It took me a while to think about mistakes I’d made in my life and, sure enough, they’d all been linked to strong emotions (quite a few of them hormonal!). The amygdala, the bit of the brain that regulates our behaviour, gets highjacked by strong emotions. This means that our decisions may be flawed and we may not behave as sensibly or assertively as we would like.

Here’s an example. Tracey and Julie had been friends for many years. Both single, they’d always hoped for the right relationship, but neither had achieved what they wishes.  Still, they enjoyed being young and single and spending time together.

Unexpectedly, Tracey met Mr Right at a conference, and they soon become a couple. Julie was upset; let’s face it, her amygdala was overwhelmed and she became terribly jealous. Her friend was no longer available as readily as before, and Mr Right had to be taken into consideration with all planned get-togethers.

Instead of assertively discussing her fears, and finding a new way for the friendship to continue, Julie acted sulkily and became demanding. Tracey felt torn – her new partner was wonderful company, but she wanted to give Julie attention too. Increasingly, time with Julie was no longer fun. Her sulks and demands made her just hard work. Tracey tried for a long time, and several times tried to address the issue assertively with her friend.

Unfortunately, Julie was not responsive. Eventually, Tracey gave up and withdrew from the friendship. Julie’s lack of assertiveness caused a self-fulfilling prophesy to come true. She lost her good friend. Not because of Mr Right, but because of her own behaviour.

*** Try this***

If you have issues you need to discuss with someone, plan ahead for the conversation. Write yourself a script or practice with a friend or in front of the mirror. Use calming techniques if you need to. Choose a quiet time when you are both calm and unlikely to be interrupted. If you are not sure how to word things, you may well find ideas in my book How to be Assertive, available on kindle. You’ll also find some calming techniques there.