Feeling overwhelmed? Here's 3 ways being more assertive can help
Ed Sheeran once said "I can't tell you the key to success but what I can tell you, is the key to failure is trying to please everybody.”
Too many of us put our lives on hold to tend to the needs and wants of others, our families, friends and colleagues. It's called self-sabotage, putting everyone else's needs ahead of our own.
Sometimes, it's a subconscious act where we have become so conditioned that we just do it, other times guilt gets in the way and admittedly some of my clients have stated that this is who they are, it aligns with their values and they are ok with that.
The moment I did take a step back, pause for breath and think about my reaction (an assertiveness technique right there!), was when a client told me it was selfish to think of their needs before the family's. Unfortunately this is common, I hear it a lot.
Luckily as we worked through her limiting beliefs, her parting gift to me was a testimonial that thanks to coaching she had been able to give herself permission to put herself first. *Huge sigh of relief.
So are you someone that puts all their wants and needs aside for someone else’s wants and needs? If the answers a resounding yes then you need to learn to become more assertive.
Sometimes as women I feel we struggle with this, as we may see it as confronting, being too forceful or simply that you need to be a confident person to achieve this, granted confidence and assertiveness do go hand in hand. However, you can be firm but fair in a non-confrontational way which will help to build your confidence at the same time.
Assertiveness is about being treated with equal respect, balancing your needs with the needs of others, which also means recognising their motivations.
Is what they are asking of you fair? Does it benefit them more than it does you? Is your relationship with this person generally a positive one? Do you feel comfortable saying no and what are the repercussions of that? (e.g if they start bullying you or persuading you to change your mind you may want to rethink the parameters of your relationship?).
Here's three ways to become more assertive.
1. Say out loud what your gut is telling you
Learning to trust your gut is key to developing your assertiveness. There are many occasions at work or in relationships we agree to things to keep the peace, or knew that that wasn't the right way to go but someone else shouted louder. Going with the flow dilutes your assertive muscle, your gut nudges you when it has an opinion, listen to it and say it out loud!
2. Take time to say no
We live in a world where everyone expects an answer to something straight away, we put pressure on ourselves to respond to every message that invades our online and offline world, it's exhausting, particularly when you feel under pressure to say yes to everything.
Buy yourself some time, mentally acknowledge the request, process it and go back with a considered response which can absolutely be a no.
3. Stop saying sorry
It is essential that when we are overwhelmed that we take back time for ourselves. That we allow space for our own creative endeavours and personal goals. There is no apology needed for this, yet we feel the need to apologise profusely and explain ourselves. Stop it.
Your true friends will always understand if you can't make a night out, your Manager will respect you far more if you deliver a considered response with the outcome you want and your partner and kids are quite capable of getting their own dinner, it's called life skills!
I challenge you to try at least one of these this week, whether it's listening to your gut, saying no to one thing (that your gut is telling you 'you could really do without this'), or stopping yourself mid flow when you find yourself apologising for taking time back for yourself.
Stay consistent with the techniques and you will become assertive. Remember, be firm but fair, your time is important so don't let anyone else make you feel guilty about owning that.
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