Do you fear speaking your mind?
Many people find it hard to be more assertive due to their beliefs about what they consider are acceptable ways to interact with others. These thoughts are habitual, and are followed by repeated (often negative) patterns of thinking and the impact of past experiences. We tend to think these beliefs are accurate, without questioning them.
If you hold positive thoughts about being assertive, you are more likely to act assertively, even when faced with criticism and resistance from others. You will also feel more comfortable about expressing your true feelings and expressions.
People who act assertively are clear and to the point, those who do not may give mixed messages and avoid the point. Assertive people ask for what they want without hinting, playing games or hoping others can read our minds.
So why do some of us find it hard to speak our minds? Some may have been punished for speaking out when younger, others may have been told by a parent or teacher that they should be 'seen and not heard', whilst people pleaser's will have been told that it is conceited to put oneself first.
Such beliefs can be ingrained within our sub-conscious minds, and often come to the forefront when we are put in a difficult or awkward situation.
However, with time and practice it IS possible to change a negative mind set to a more positive and empowering one.
Start by asking yourself what it is about a certain situation that makes you feel uncomfortable, and then consider whether there is any truth in your thoughts and what it is about the situation that makes you feel uneasy.
If you tend to say 'yes' when you really want to say 'no', bide your time by saying you need time to think about it. This will give you the opportunity to think first before feeling you have to give an immediate response.
Do you automatically say 'yes'? If so, ask yourself if it is something you really want / think you can do. Maybe you assume the person will think, less of you if you refuse. No one will think any worse of you if you have a valid reason for saying no. Remember to put things in perspective; saying no is often about a task or request and not the actual person.
Replace non-assertive thought and behaviours with more positive ones -
- I have the right to be heard.
- My feelings are valid.
- I have the right to say no.
- I do not have to make excuses for my choices and behaviours.
Consider how you come across to others. Are you seen as a 'she / he won't say no' kind of person? Such people often take advantage of your willingness. You will need to change your reputation if you want people to see you and treat you differently. If you feel put upon, you will need to say 'no' a few times before others finally get the message!
Don't do too much too soon. Start with one area you would like to begin to assert yourself, in order to improve your confidence. If you can identify with any of the above, maybe it's time to start focusing on yourself and not worry so much about what other people think. Consider what YOU want and need. You have to take care of yourself first and foremost. No one else can do this for you and if you believe in yourself, so will others.