personal development

HIGHLIGHTS: Achieving Change – How to live the life you long for; Part Three

Picture courtesy of Openphoto

Picture courtesy of Openphoto

 

Now we know our values it is time to make our resolutions and goals. Usually resolutions and goals are confused for one another however it is useful to remember that resolutions are based on habits which we would like to adopt in our day to day lives whereas goals are our desired achievements with deadlines and are likely to be bigger in scale. Please read Augusts series ‘How to turn your dreams into reality’ for an in-depth look into discovering and creating meaningful goals.

 

Ok, so our values, resolutions and goals are all aligned. What next? More

HIGHLIGHTS: Achieving Change – How to live the life you long for; Part Two

Achieving Change

Picture courtesy of Openphoto

 

 

Just as critical to achieving lasting change is to focus on the benefits of changing our behaviour. Imagine the best case scenario in your mind’s eye and how much better your life would be if you kept to this resolution or goal. Imagine every detail of what your life would look like with your new changes in place. Take this time to list the benefits of achieving the change you desire and place this list somewhere you will see it every day, like your mirror or fridge. In visualising the value a change can make to our lives we reinforce the reason we desire to change. If you ever find yourself lacking drive re-read this list, visualising your new life as you go through it. This should serve to boost your motivation and resolve to continue to implement the change.

 

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HIGHLIGHTS: Achieving Change – How to live the life you long for; Part One

 

Picture courtesy of Openphoto

 

 

Tony Robbins, international bestselling author, world renowned life coach and motivational speaker once famously said “Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.” For many of us the start of the New Year represents a chance for a new beginning – a chance to make valuable changes that will improve our quality of life. Sadly our New Year resolutions are often discarded by the time February arrives as we remember just how difficult it can be to break old habits and form new ones.

 

It is a widely accepted fact that it takes twenty one days to form a new habit however this is usually contradictory to what we experience when trying to keep to our resolutions or new goals. Interestingly, a recent study by University College London has found that on average it actually takes sixty six days to fully embed a new habit into our daily regimes – that is nine and a half weeks! But is there any way to help speed up this process? Can we ever change quickly? According to Tony Robbins we can affect change in our lives faster if we focus on what our old habits are costing us and examine the benefits our new changes will bring.

 

Let me share my own experience of rapid change with you.

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HIGHLIGHTS: ‘Tis the season to be stressed – How to leave stress behind you for good; Part Three

 

Last week we looked at decreasing our demands. This week we focus on the fun bit – how we can increase our resources. This is just as essential when tackling stress, as it helps us to gain a more objective and balanced perspective. When our resources are high we are more likely to see the situation for what it is and this can reduce our tendency to enter into a heightened fight, flight or freeze response. There are many positive ways we can actively increase our resources. For instance, if I am stressed at work an early nights sleep will greatly increase my resistance to stress the following day. Unsurprisingly, lack of sleep can significantly increase our stress levels and so it is vital that we make sleep a priority when we are stressed. An early night or a lay in over the weekend can make a vast difference and improve our resources tenfold.

 

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HIGHLIGHTS: ‘Tis the season to be stressed – How to leave stress behind you for good; Part Two

 

The first and most important step is admitting to ourselves when we are stressed, hopefully last week’s exercises will have helped you to see more easily whether you are stressed. Admitting we are stressed can often be difficult in our society which promotes a busy lifestyle. How many programmes on TV have you seen featuring ‘essential’ festive events and activities we simply cannot, and should not, miss? When being busy is the norm, admitting we are stressed can seem like announcing we cannot cope with the demands of daily life, but this is not entirely the case. Usually those of us that suffer from stress have chosen to take on what others would not and, consequently, have been burdened with demands that are unmanageable given the resources available to us.

 

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HIGHLIGHTS: ‘Tis the season to be stressed – How to leave stress behind you for good; Part One

 

It’s December and the festive season is upon us once again. Ahead of us lay hours of rushing through shops trying to mark off items from our seemingly endless shopping lists, barging through the crowds on our way. And then there are the party invites flooding into our inbox, several of these falling on the same night and all – without fail – impossible to decline less our friendships be strained forevermore. Add to this the torrent of cookery shows impressing upon us the urgent need to be a Michelin Star chef come Christmas day and no wonder the season fills us with an overwhelming sense of stress.

 

Recalling last Christmas it was clear I was stressed, I had just finished planning my parents honeymoon and was completely burnt out. At the time I was aware I wasn’t myself but, in the depths of my stress, I just saw a seemingly endless to do list which absolutely had to be done – whether I was up to it or not. It’s often so easy to recognise when we have been stressed in the past, but what do we do when we are in the midst of it? How can we learn to recognise what to look out for and react accordingly to reduce it?

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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

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