Unclutter Your Life

Assert Yourself…

What do you think of when you think of someone who is “assertive”? Assertion is simply expressing yourself in a honest, straightforward way which helps you get what you need.  It shows respect for yourself and others.  So, why do we have such a hard time with it?  Why does it have such a negative connotation?

This was a recent topic at my Weight Watcher‘s meeting.  This people pleaser tends to have a hard time with being assertive when it comes to anything but food.  I can easily tell you what food I can and can’t have but when it comes to anything else – I am as timid as a church mouse not wanting to hurt other’s feelings.  I rocked being assertive when I was early in my recovery then somewhere along the lines, those nasty inner gremlins creeped in again.

Being assertive is not being aggressive although we tend to lump the two of them together.  We worry when we assert ourselves people won’t like us.  We allow others needs to outweigh our own (those people pleasing gremlins).  Honestly, I think this is a skill (yes, it is a skill) I never really learned.  The reality is, once you master being assertive in an effective way, you will be able to let go of the fear of coming on too strong.

Think about situations where you wish you would have been assertive.  Maybe it was saying “no” to a piece of cake or to adding another thing on your to do list.  Maybe it was simply making time for YOU in the course of a crazy busy day or week.  For me, it is usually about putting everyone and everything before what I would like.  Yup, the proverbial people pleaser.

Being able to respectfully but firmly express feelings and ask for support helps us in so many ways – staying on plan to reach our weight loss goal, overcoming an eating disorder, finding time to exercise, building our business or beating an addiction.  When we learn how to advocate for ourselves and NOT put others’ needs and feelings first, we are more in control of our lives.  We are in a better position to reach our goals, whatever they may be.

I love the DESC model (now I just need to practice it) when it comes to asking for support, or getting someone to stop (or start) something or simply asking what you need.

DESCRIBE: 

First, you need to describe the behavior you want changed.  For example “You watch TV and I have to do the dishes after dinner so I don’t have time to get in a walk”.  What is the behavior you would like someone in your life to change?

EXPLAIN:

Now you need to explain the effect this behavior is having on you.  Okay, here is where I either get emotional or worry about saying the wrong thing.  For example, “I end up not getting in my walk most days of the week”.  Short and sweet.  No need for a lang drawn out explanation.  “Just the facts Dano”…. am I showing my age?  LOL.

SPECIFY:

Now is the big step….specify what you want or need to get the behavior to change.  This is where you ask for what you want.  Not demand but present a possible solution.  For example, “Would you please do the dishes Monday, Wednesday and Friday after dinner so I can walk for 20 minutes?”.  Seems harmless right?  If you don’t ask, you will never know what the other person is thinking.  Unfortunately (or fortunately) mind reading is not in our genes.

CONSEQUENCES:

Clearly state the consequences for you or how it is going to help you.  This is when I have to overcome the inner gremlin which says “you are selfish” or “it’s all about you”.  For example, “I’ll be able to walk three more times than usual and it’ll help me reach my FitPoints goal”.

My challenge to you this week is to identify a situation where being more assertive could help you get what you need then use the DESC model to practice being assertive.  

Thank you Weight Watchers for this lesson which can be applied to all areas of our lives.  Would love to hear how it went, share your success or your challenge with us.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

 

Hope Wissel

Are You an Advocate?

 

When I entered Social Work in the early years of HIV/AIDS, I was the voice for those who were unseen.  I helped those who were tossed away due to drug addiction, sexual addictions, homosexuality, and homelessness.  I was for the underdog.

underdog

It wasn’t long and I was called an advocate.  I didn’t really understand what that was.  By definition, an advocate is  “a person who speaks or writes in support or defense of a person, cause, etc.”.  Yup, that was me!  As I went from the front lines in Social Work to Non-Profit Administration, I was still an advocate.  Easily defending others and their cause.

Why is it so hard for us to do the same for ourselves?

Whether we are sharing our passion for our business or taking a stand on a personal healthy issue, we seem to struggle.  The inner gremlins get the best of us.  They convince us that we are selfish.  They tell us that our health problems aren’t as bad as someone else.  They make us doubt our abilities.  They make us think that our symptoms are all “in our head”.  All of this has really hit home as I am dealing with my own health challenge.

The old saying “Do as I say but no as I do” rings true here.

I am able to encourage my team and others with awesome ideas that will help their business.  I am able to advocate for causes that are near and dear to my heart.  I am able to give voice to others who have difficulties with medical providers.  I am able to fight on behalf of others.  I am able to help others to stand on their own.  I can advocate and make a difference in the lives of others.

Why is it so hard for us to do the same for ourselves?

Here are some tips to help YOU advocate for yourself:

  • Believe in Yourself: Remember that YOU know your body.  You know the aches and the pains that you have.  You know that your body doesn’t feel right (or normal).
  • Know Your Rights:  Know your insurance carrier and what they cover.  If you are working with a General Practitioner, ask them to refer you to a specialist.  
  • Gather Support:  I am not saying host a demonstration on their door step.  What I am saying is talk to your personal “cheerleaders“, the people who support you through good times and bad.  Talk to family and friends who have seen the signs and symptoms so they can reinforce what is happening.  
  • Express and Assert Yourself Clearly:  Being an emotional mess will NOT help the situation.  State the facts.  Be concise without a lot of added stuff or fluff.  This one is hard and may require practice.  If need be, write a list of things as they happen so that you can recap them for the doctor.  
  • Be Firm and Persistent:  Remember that there are other “fish in the sea”.  You can interview a doctor the same way you interview for a job.  Ask for second opinion or even third ones if it is necessary.  

After a horrendous experience at one “speciality center“, I looked for somewhere else.  I will admit that the inner gremlins got the best of me for a little while.  I was ready to give up.  I was ready to accept whatever they told me and stop pushing on.  I kicked, screamed and through a tantrum.  Then…..the advocate kicked in and I began to

slaying IG

Are you struggling with being your own advocate?  Need a cheerleader?  Reach out and I will be glad to help you, if I can.

Hope you have a ThirtyOne-derful day!