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.
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?
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.
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.
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!