We often have an instinct of what our truth and reality is but it is often overridden by other more invasive barriers that prohibit the expression of our truth. What is our truth? It is often the silent, logical voice inside you that is either gives you a sense of things. It can also be a loud, screaming voice that shouts at you to express yourself. The more credence with give this “truth” voice, the more power it will gain and will eventually allow you to make healthy decisions and walk your own path. To start this process, communicating your truth is a major first step and assertiveness is the tool to use. Assertiveness allows you to stand up for yourself, state your opinions, say no when relevant, ask for what you need and express how you feel and what you think. It also increases your self-esteem. It is the middle ground between submission and aggression.
There are often barriers to assertiveness and expressing your truth:
- Nervous about imposing
- Uncomfortable bringing attention to your needs
- Worried about other’s reactions and what they might think.
- Self-doubt or you feel stupid
- You will alienate people who you have been “nice” to.
These barriers and others grow from what others need, not your needs. Living by your own truth provides you with a boost to your self-esteem because it tells the world you believe in yourself and how you wanted to be treated. This exercise will be difficult for those who have been used to subduing their own needs and living by someone else’s truth. You may instinctually subdue your needs or believe you are wrong or bad. You may make assumptions about what people are thinking or will react. As time goes on and you can be heard and ask for respect and empathy, it will become natural.
Exercises for Day 8
- Communicating what you feel: Not expressing what you really feel leads to resentment and self-doubt. It can limit intimacy and lead to anger and assumption. Telling people how you feel builds intimacy and emotional honesty. Your feelings are not facts or accusations but just feelings. Good communication distinguishes between facts and feelings. First describe the facts and then how you feel. For example: “This happened (facts without judgment)” followed by how you feel “I felt upset/sad/ irritated by that”. Write about a feeling you want to tell someone about. Create your script using the “facts plus feelings” format.
- Telling others what you need: What you need comes from a deeper physical and emotional places. You have every right to ask for something that you feel is important to you. What others think is less important. What matters is that you can express your needs and they are worthy of speaking about. Be specific (help, time, affection) and how this need should be fulfilled. “ I would like to spend more time talking in the evenings”. Write about something you need or want. Who needs to hear this? Use this framework: Don’t apologise….Be specific….Ask for behavioral rather than attitude change…Ask for one thing at a time.
- Saying no: People with low self-esteem say yes when they want to say no. This denies you your personal limits and sends the message that you can do anything that anyone wants. Write about a person you would like to say no to. Be clear that it is your right to say no….Describe your limits…Say No in a firm voice….Offer no apologies or justification….decide on a consequence if your limits are not respected.
- After doing the exercises above, write about what your life might be like if you could use these techniques frequently.