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HIGHLIGHTS: Assertiveness; A journey worth taking; Part Two

 

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Last week we uncovered three boundaries relevant to us using the technique of self-reflection. In order for us to communicate our boundaries effectively we first need to become assertive. When we act assertively we protect our boundaries and prevent others from taking advantage of us.

 

Generally those of us that are passive confuse assertiveness for aggression. In truth, there is a wide gap between assertive and aggressive behavior. Aggressiveness violates others boundaries and, in contrast, assertiveness sets out to respect others boundaries whilst also protecting our own personal needs.

 

There are four essential points to assertive communication. The first is to acknowledge what the other person has said. This helps them feel understood and makes them more receptive to what you have to say. For example, you could start using statements like ‘I understand you think…’ or ‘ I understand you believe…’.

 

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HIGHLIGHTS: Assertiveness; A journey worth taking; Part One

 

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The author Mandy Hale once said “It is necessary, and even vital, to set standards for your life and the people you allow in it.” This really resonated with me as there have been many times in the past I have allowed others to treat me badly in an attempt to be more likable. After taking assertiveness training I am relieved this is now less of an issue in my life, but I continue to learn every day.

 

What struck me most about my training was how common this issue seems to be for so many, and just how deeply it can affect us. If others continually take advantage of us the cost can be devastating. It can lower our self-esteem and confidence and, in some severe cases, even lead to depression. But how others treat us often seems so beyond our control, after all, how can we change other people? Fortunately, the answer actually lies within us. More

Highlight Posts

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Hi Guys,

 

I’m now in the fine tuning stages of getting the new website up and running and wow am I excited!

 

We have a brand new bookstore and loads of interesting and interactive things in the pipe works so stay tuned for updates.

 

In the meantime, whilst I’m preparing the website, I thought I would re-post some of your favorite articles from the past three years.

 

The first article to kick-start the highlight posts is a classic on assertiveness called ‘Assertiveness; A Journey Worth Taking’.

 

Stay tuned for future highlight posts, selected just for you.

 

Wishing you all a wonderful week,

x X x Jenny x X x

The Number One Reason We Prevent Our Own Progress (and what you can do about it) Part Four

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Last week we examined how authenticity and accepting our weaknesses feeds into one another and how we could benefit from this. We also took a look at a nifty exercise that helped you to be more compassionate towards yourself when it comes to your weaknesses. This week we explore why accepting our weaknesses needn’t mean resigning yourself to them and how to continue improving, even overcoming them in time.

 

Why Accepting Your Weaknesses Doesn’t Mean Resigning Yourself to Them

 

Whilst it is important to fully accept our weaknesses this needn’t mean resigning yourself to them. I worked on my vanity by starting to go out without make up on and today I don’t place value upon myself based on my appearance.

 

Whilst it may sound like a contradiction to both accept your weaknesses and then work upon improving them, in fact it is quite the opposite. When we accept who we are completely, flaws and all, we are then in a perfect position to work on improving ourselves, because we are doing so from a self-compassionate and loving place – the ideal environment for genuine growth.

 

Though some may choose to berate themselves for their weaknesses with the aim of eradicating them, this is often ineffective because they are essentially rejecting themselves and creating self-loathing which psychologically creates a helpless mentality – needless to say this is not conducive to inspiring real growth.

 

How to Work Upon Improving Your Weaknesses

 

One of the best ways of improving in the area of our weaknesses is to analyze it a little. Don’t worry it’s easy enough to do, just follow the two simple steps below…

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The Number One Reason We Prevent Our Own Progress (and what you can do about it) Part Three

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So far we have looked at the benefits to accepting our weaknesses and the psychological reasons we reject them. This week we explore how authenticity and accepting our weaknesses feeds into one another and how we can benefit from this. We’ll also take a look at a nifty exercise that will enable you to be more compassionate towards yourself when it comes to your weaknesses.

 

Authenticity and Accepting Your Weaknesses

 

When we fail to accept our weaknesses it naturally undermines our authenticity. After all, how can we be true to who we are if we are unaware of our weaknesses, which is part of who we are? True authenticity involves self-awareness and means both knowing and accepting ourselves completely, including our weaknesses.

 

When I failed to accept my weaknesses it raised my stress levels. It was subtle enough for me not to notice, but, when I accepted my flaws, I noticed a distinct difference. I felt lighter and more care free.

 

I realized that without even being aware, I was different around different groups of friends, causing me anxiety that one day I would be ‘found out’ as the odd one out. This is what not accepting our flaws does – it contributes to in-authenticity and causes us to wear masks, preventing us from establishing true intimacy with those we are close to and adding to our feeling of isolation.

 

In accepting our weaknesses we are free to drop the masks we wear and just be ourselves, increasing both authenticity and intimacy with those we care about.

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The Number One Reason We Prevent Our Own Progress (and what you can do about it) Part Two

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Last week we looked at the benefits of accepting our weaknesses, this week we explore the psychological reasons we reject our weaknesses and explain what can be done to counteract this.

 

The Psychological Reasons We Reject Our Weaknesses

 

Humiliation

 

We immediately do anything to avoid humiliation. Humiliation can therefore have a big impact in terms of failing to accept our weaknesses. For instance, if we are in a team at work and are a senior staff member, the last thing we wish to do is accept we are bad at teamwork.

 

We can overcome this by accepting the truth that whenever we admit our flaws invariably we endear ourselves to others and often gain their respect, rather than inviting further criticism or put downs.

 

Shame

 

Sometimes when we behave in ways that are bad (like screaming at someone) we psychologically distance ourselves from our actions to avoid feeling shame.

 

Shame tells us we are something wrong as opposed to guilt, which is much more healthy an emotion and tells us we have done something wrong.

 

The trick here is to reassert that although we have done something wrong we are not unlovable or worthless. The redeeming thing about this approach is that it allows us to rectify the wrongdoing by apologizing, seeking to right the wrong and restoring the relationship or situation if possible whilst still retaining a sense of our inherent worth.

 

Competitiveness

 

In today’s corporate world of work and with the media portraying everyone having ‘the perfect life’ competitiveness is rife. Whenever we compare ourselves to others or are competitive and wanting to be the best, we naturally distance ourselves from our shortcomings.

 

Being a type A personality and very goal orientated I suffered with comparing myself to others. To remedy this I needed to realize that everyone is on their own journey. Once you accept that we all have different strengths and weaknesses and there is no better or worse – just different – you will be well on your way to taking ownership of your weaknesses.

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The Number One Reason We Prevent Our Own Progress (and what you can do about it) Part One

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When I was growing up I was bullied and frequently used to be called ugly. One of the coping mechanisms I adopted was to place a great deal of importance on my appearance. In reality I over compensated and became quite vain. For years I was blind to my own vanity until I began to accept myself, including my weaknesses.

 

What I soon discovered was that, in acknowledging my own vanity, I had empowered myself to overcome it. Like so many of us I had resisted acknowledging my weaknesses because it felt safer that way; it was scary to accept that there was a disconnect between my perception of myself and the reality of how I thought and behaved.

 

But once I did everything changed. I was able to examine why I was vain and see if my vanity served any psychological need. I was able to explore how I could fulfill the psychological need it served in a more healthy way.

 

By analyzing myself and my weaknesses in this way, I was able to overcome them; something I could never have done if I had been unwilling to accept my weaknesses in the first place.

 

In this series I will reveal how not accepting our weaknesses causes so many of to remain stuck, damaging our personal development and preventing us from stepping into our full potential.

 

Throughout the series I will walk you through the process step by step – all that is required from you is the courage to be completely honest and the self-esteem to know your innate worth despite your flaws.

 

Benefits of Accepting Your Weaknesses

 

When you know your weaknesses, you can play to your strengths more. For example, if you suffer from social anxiety when in big groups or at parties you could arrange intimate gatherings with friends instead so that you will be more at ease and able to invest more into your friendships.

 

This isn’t to say that you should avoid big groups or parties and accept your weakness as absolute but rather that if you decide you want to work on your social anxiety (insert any weakness) you can work on it gradually, thereby placing less immediate pressure on yourself. Hence, once we accept our weaknesses we are empowered to work on them, thereby improving – and even overcoming them – in time.

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A Detox For The Soul: How To Eradicate Gossip For A Lighter, Happier Existence Part Five

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Choosing To Focus On The Positive Continued…

 

Practice Gratitude

 

When I practice gratitude I can’t help but feel positive. It allows me to focus on all I have in life rather than defaulting to the things I might lack. It changes the glass from being half empty to half full.

 

A wonderful way to do this is to think of one thing you are grateful for each day. This might sound cliché but it really works. Soon you will be looking for things to be grateful for and before you know it, you’ll appreciate just how much you have in life.

 

It took me a while to get into this habit but now I feel grateful most days, having increased my sense of happiness in a profound way.

 

Why don’t you try thinking of something to be grateful for every day for thirty days? You have nothing to lose and it could bring you such joy and happiness.

 

Use Affirmations And Visualize

 

This is something I have done intermittently but am recommitting to do on a more regular basis. Phrase your affirmations in the present tense and try to say them ten times each day whilst looking in the mirror. Some popular affirmations are:

 

  • I love and accept my authentic self completely
  • I can do anything I set out to
  • Everything in my life is working for my ultimate good and as it should
  • I forgive all those that have wronged me in the past and let go of all negativity
  • I am achieving excellence
  • I have an abundance of energy and am totally healthy
  • I have a wealth of inner resources to conquer any and every challenge I face
  • My old habits have gone, my new, more healthy and empowering habits, have now taken root in my life

 

Another wonderful tool to boost positivity – which new research has suggested allows us to reach our goals faster – is to use visualization. The critical element which the research picked up on was that if we visualize achieving our goals our motivation decreases, however, if we visualize how we will go about achieving our goals, our motivation increases and we are likely to achieve them faster.

 

I visualize by listening to chill out music, with lit candles all around my room whilst looking at my dream board and planning how I will achieve my dreams.

 

Practice Hope For The Future And Optimism

 

I’ve often confused hope and optimism for the same thing. They are related, however there is a subtle difference. Whereas hope is grounded in an expectation and a desire for something to happen, optimism focuses on that thing turning out well. We need both to fully embrace positivity in our lives.

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A Detox For The Soul: How To Eradicate Gossip For A Lighter, Happier Existence Part Four

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Choosing To Focus On The Positive Continued…

 

Focus On Existing Goals Or Create Meaningful Goals

 

Exert from ‘How To Turn Your Dreams Into Reality’

 

Bill Copeland, a well respected author, once said “the trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.” The truth is that in today’s society whereby instant communication is the norm with sites like Facebook, Hotmail and Twitter constantly vying for our attention, it can be challenging to sit down and assess what we want to achieve on a deeper level, let alone make time for those activities.

 

In Tony Hsieh’s book, Delivering Happiness, he pin points ‘perceived progress’ as an essential component of our overall happiness and, as the field of positive psychology develops, this principle is becoming widely accepted.

 

The process of making our dreams reality can be a very exciting and creative one. Essentially we are creating a map to get us from where we are now (Point A) to where we want to be (Point B). Though there is much advice surrounding the area of setting goals there is generally a consensus that all goals must be S.M.A.R.T.

 

S.M.A.R.T. goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timescaled.

 

Let’s explore the meaning of S.M.A.R.T. in this context further…

 

Specific goals identify what we want to achieve on a practical level and are often grounded in weekly participation of your chosen pursuit. For example, a vague goal would be to become a pop star. Although becoming a pop star is an admirable goal we need to think of how we are going to achieve that and add these interim steps to our main goal.

 

A specific goal in order to achieve chart success might therefore be to take weekly singing lessons and practice singing exercises for thirty minutes a day. Once we have specific goals we immediately feel energized as we know on a practical level what needs to be done.

 

Goals also need to be measurable; ideally goals should be measured in the short-term and medium-term. For example, you can easily measure whether you have been attending weekly singing lessons and practicing each day.

 

Every six months you can review whether you have made progress by seeing if you have attended any open mike nights or have started writing your own lyrics. The main objective is to outline how and when we will measure our progress. This helps us adjust our goals when necessary and keeps us motivated down the line.

 

In order to ensure our motivation remains high it is vital that our goals are achievable. This needn’t mean thinking small, but it is essential that we plan the steps of our goals methodically and that we allow a realistic timeframe to achieve those goals.

 

When our goals are truly achievable they will cease to be the dreams and fantasies they set out as and will start to appear more feasible, thereby increasing our drive to achieve them.

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A Detox For The Soul: How To Eradicate Gossip For A Lighter, Happier Existence Part Three

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Choosing To Focus On The Positive

 

Sometimes it is incredibly difficult to focus on the positive when you seem to be surrounded by negativity. It takes great strength of character to seek the silver lining when you’re the victim of gossip but finding the positive is an essential tool when shifting from feeling powerless to powerful.

 

Mindfulness And Accepting The Present

 

Exert from ‘How To Stop Operating On Auto-Pilot And Live For The Moment’…

 

Whilst at one of the worlds best facilities in 2009, I was introduced to something called mindfulness. Mindfulness is a form of meditation which has gained great medical recognition and is designed to cultivate an experience of living in the moment. However, to stop there would be to sell mindfulness short. It also encourages us to accept the present in all its fullness – even if what we are experiencing is unpleasant.

 

It serves to both heighten our perceptions and teach us to appreciate and see our environment anew. Jon Kabat-Zinn, the pioneer of mindfulness and the man responsible for bringing it into the mainstream medical arena, describes mindfulness as ‘The awareness that emerges when we learn to pay attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally to things as they are.’

 

The first few mindfulness classes I attended brought me such a deep feeling of relaxation, well being and peace, I knew I would continue to use mindfulness throughout the course of my life.

 

Mindfulness can teach us to access states of openness, acceptance and immersion which we seldom find in our everyday lives. The sort of states one might experience on holiday. Think of mindfulness as a form of mental vacation, a way to connect with non-judgmental principles and a complete acceptance of what is, whatever that may be.

 

In recent years the body of research on mindfulness has been enormous and the amount of positive findings staggering. Mindfulness has been found to help us better process pain and emotion and there is evidence which suggests it can significantly reduce the chance of patients with chronic depression relapsing. Studies even show that mindfulness can improve our concentration and quality of sleep.

 

As if those benefits weren’t enough, it has also been proven that mindfulness lowers the stress hormone Cortisol and many patients treated for stress, anxiety, pain and depression are increasingly being advised to practice mindfulness. Whereby mindfulness was once seen as a holistic treatment, it is now recognized by the medical profession as a viable treatment in and of itself.

 

To gain more insight into what mindfulness is, it is important to examine what it is not. For instance, mindfulness is not trying to relax. To become aware of the present moment, especially when we are going through a period of stress or depression, can be far from relaxing. Mindfulness simply allows us to become less reactive to our inner struggles and enables us to let go.

 

Unlike other forms of meditation, mindfulness is not trying to rid the mind of thoughts. When thoughts arise (as they will) the mindful person will simply acknowledge and observe them, allowing them to pass and returning their focus to the breath.

 

Stay tuned – next Monday we will continue looking at choosing to focus on the positive and will go into the role goals, hobbies and interests have to play in helping us to ooze positivity.

 

Further Resources:

 

‘A Complaint Free World: How to Stop Complaining and Start Enjoying the Life You Always Wanted’ by Will Bowen

 

Have you ever meditated? What type of meditation did you do and how did you feel after? Is daily meditation something you would like to introduce into your lifestyle? Please share your thoughts in the comments below to gain encouragement, understanding and support from our community, we’d love to hear from you.

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