HIGHLIGHTS: How to Avoid a Negative Downward Spiral by Using the Power of Positivity Part One

Recently I was working as a receptionist in an ongoing temporary placement. I couldn’t have been happier – I found the work easy and enjoyable, the people were really welcoming and friendly and the pay was good.

 

As I progressed in my placement and became closer to my colleagues I was told nightmare stories about the boss who allegedly intimidated his workers and ruled with an iron fist. At no point whilst working there did I see any behaviour of his that I would class as out of the ordinary however the stories inevitably coloured my experience of how I perceived the workplace.

 

About a month into the placement my colleagues began to gossip to me about nearly all of their  in turn. At first I felt awkward and then before long I felt as if I were expected to agree with the comments, thereby joining in on the gossip myself. This process happened so subtly that I was soon privy to all manner of gossip, from how one new employee was too negative to how needy another was.

 

It wasn’t long before I started to become more negative, focussing on the flaws in people as opposed to my more typical empathetic and positive attitude towards others. It was as if the negativity I was surrounded by was breeding negativity in me, like a virus spreading through my body.

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HIGHLIGHTS: Assertiveness; A journey worth taking; Part Four

 

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Although being assertive may seem quite challenging at first, the benefits of open, honest communication are enormous and well worth the effort. When we learn to behave and communicate in an assertive way we immediately feel empowered and more in control. Most importantly we safeguard ourselves against the aggressive and passive aggressive games others play. After we have practiced assertiveness for a while our self-worth and self-respect improves, leading to greater levels of self-esteem and confidence.

 

Practicing assertiveness then becomes more natural as it reflects the higher value we have placed on ourselves. Eventually this leads to a greater sense of personal freedom. Like anything, the more we practice, the easier it gets.

 

For most of us assertiveness does not come readily. Becoming assertive involves changing the way we normally react to people and this is a new experience for both us and those around us. When I first set out to be assertive I did not get it right all the time, in fact I got it wrong more than I got it right! I knew that if I wanted to become an assertive person I needed to be patient with myself. When we feel like we have tripped up it is important not to give up, after all we are undergoing what can be a massive adjustment.

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HIGHLIGHTS: Assertiveness; A journey worth taking; Part Three

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This week we shall explore what to do when the person you are asserting yourself to persists in being either aggressive, passive aggressive or even by-passes your point altogether.

 

If the person you are speaking to takes the conversation off on a tangent and fails to respond to your remark, the broken record technique is very effective. When used correctly, with a calm and steady tone of voice, it helps the conversation to remain on point and maximizes the likelihood of the person responding to your comment. If this happens simply and calmly repeat your main point until the other person responds.

 

Negative assertion is a powerful assertiveness skill which can allow the person you are speaking with to feel heard and more validated. If the person criticizes you take time to honestly assess whether you agree with any of their points. If you do say so and explain what action you will take to avoid this behavior in future. For example, ‘I agree that at times my concentration is low and I shall endeavor to actively listen to you when you are explaining something to me in future’.

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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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