Honesty, Assertiveness and Tranquility

Today’s Thought: To be passive is to let others decide for you. To be aggressive is to decide for others. To be assertive is to decide for yourself and to trust that there is enough and that you are enough.

Practicing assertiveness is transforming my life at the moment. It’s allowing me not only to be honest with others, but also be to be honest with myself. I feel more powerful and tranquil than I have before – not because I am getting what I want all the time, but because I am being listened to; because I am standing up for what I believe in and I am finding my voice.

Don’t be passive – you give away your power.

Don’t be aggressive – no one respects your power.

Be assertive – everyone has equal power.

Through this practice of honest assertiveness, I have found that taking back my power doesn’t mean that I am in total control or that everything goes my way. It turns out that isn’t what having power means. Having power just means being heard, being respected, practicing acceptance and learning to understand one another.

If only that kind of power ruled the world – it would be a very different place!

Honest Assertiveness

Today’s Thought: Take your power back by uncovering your limiting beliefs.

To help me get through this difficulty I have with my new superior, I have been working on my assertiveness and have have been trying to uncover why I find being assertive so difficult.

I have a couple of recommendations that have really enlightened me over the past few weeks: A short course in assertiveness from the Centre of Clinical Interventions. My therapist gave me the course on paper and to be honest, I was a little cynical. I felt that we had tried this before and it hadn’t made any difference. My therapist said it was a key time to try again as I was slap bang in the middle of an emotional crisis and the work would be likely to have the most effect right now. She hasn’t been wrong so far!

The other tool I have been using is a book called ‘It Didn’t Start With You’ by Mark Wolynn. This book is all about working through inherited trauma. It is fascinating and has had a profound impact on my ability to be assertive as it has helped me unlock the inherited trauma that has been holding me back. If you cannot identify where your trauma comes from or why you have certain beliefs and behaviours, then I would seriously recommend that you read this book and talk it over with your therapist – or even just a friend that you truly trust.

This week has been tough but empowering. It’s been so empowering that I am scared I will become cocky! I am waiting for the ‘fall’, when everything comes crashing down again. My therapist tells me, though, that I should live more in the moment and right now, things have been improving therefore I should enjoy it!

For the first time this week, I stood up for myself with not just one superior, but three! My team and I are really passionate about doing a new project in a particular way. My superiors have been sceptical, but we have argued our case and so far they haven’t been able to find a good reason why we shouldn’t go ahead. Another superior came to see how myself and my team had been getting on generally; I was assertive once again and challenged some of the criticisms they threw at me. Once again, the world didn’t cave in and I wasn’t sacked – I was simply challenged to prove that what I was saying was true by providing evidence. I could do this, so again they left satisfied and actually wrote a reasonably positive report on what they had seen.

In short, the fire has been lit within me and I don’t intend to let it go out!

Here is my core sentence that describes the block to me being assertive: I fear judgement of my choices as if they are judged unfavourably, I lose everything. This fear has been holding me back for years and I now know it didn’t start with me. It harks back to my father asking a judge to live with his mother and the judge disregarding that request and sending him to live with his father. He was devastated. I have been left with that terror of judgement; that distorted reality about how much power people can have over your life; that sensation that I am a child when people provide criticism over decisions I have made and that the criticism and judgement people make can destroy my life (as it obviously did my father’s).

Using the assertiveness course materials has provided me with a framework to respond to criticism within – I have already used some of the techniques during challenging conversations. Understanding where my crippling fear comes from has helped me to recognise that I don’t need to own that terror any more – I can give it back. I know that the biggest mistake I made when thinking that others had power over me was that I didn’t think I had any power myself. That is simply not true! Everyone has power of some kind; everyone has the right to have their voice heard and if you don’t use your voice, then you are giving away your power.

I might not win every battle that is to come; I will still need to evaluate criticism towards my work to check that I am not missing helpful observations, but I must also remember that I have rights and power just as strong as my superiors and that it is essential that I use my voice to ensure that I don’t give my power away!

Honest Criticism

Today’s Thought: The difference between criticism and constructive criticism is empathy.

My struggle with my new superior continues; it has felt insurmountable recently and I have sunk deeper and deeper into a quagmire of self-destruction. Not helpful; not positive and certainly not changing anything.

Working with my therapist, we talked over why this person was triggering me so badly. There are many reasons, but actually what I need to focus on is the solution: I need to change my response to this person rather than wish the person themselves will change.

One of my difficulties with them is that whenever they criticise or comment on something either to do with work I have done or with my opinion or feeling on a topic, I feel as though they are rejecting and belittling me. While this in itself may or may not be true, I must start to do two things: frame the criticism more positively and explore exactly what they mean and change my response to their words by separating myself as a person to the behaviour or work they are criticising.

To this end, I have to practice altering my response. This is not going to be easy for me as my current responses are so entrenched within my body and I am highly anxious and emotional right now. For this reason, I am going to start with changing my reaction to small things:

  1. I am going to say exactly what I do or don’t want for a meal instead of saying ‘I don’t mind, whatever you want.’
  2. I am going to ask my superior if they can clarify what they mean the next time they say something that I feel criticises me or my work. I am going to try and change it into a learning opportunity.

Starting this way will allow me to practice using assertiveness rather than passiveness. It will empower me to be a survivor rather than a victim and it will help me to realise that this person doesn’t have ultimate power over my destiny – I do!

My chosen thought of the day is a reminder to me that this superior probably doesn’t empathise with my struggles because they possibly haven’t ever experienced such crushing self-doubt. This isn’t my fault or their fault so I need to put the power back in my own hands and change my responses. I must accept that they have weaknesses just as I do and use this knowledge to learn and move forward. After all, I have a skill that they don’t – empathy – and this gives me such a huge opportunity to influence others more positively than they do. If I change my response to them, then I have the chance to prove to then exactly how effective I can be.

Finding The Honest Root.

Today’s Thought: It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.

Since this superior has come into my life, I feel as though I have been catapulted into a murky soup of confusion and fear. I feel as though I am on the outside looking in; weird; unacceptable; stupid; as though my soul is to be consumed and overpowered.

This week these feelings have led me to make the wrong decision, simply because I feared the superior’s opinion of me. My fear and the subsequent decision impacted negatively on another person and rebounded back to me as it rightly should have done. I cannot let this happen again; it is the opposite to the honest existence I crave.

Where did this all begin? All these sensations and feelings are old – they feel older than I and as if they don’t all belong to me. I recently read that who you want to be is who you truly are. I want to be free, creative, happy and caring, yet when I experience people who resurrect these violent emotions in me, I am frequently terrified, stunted, anxious and cut myself off from others.

To remove the power this superior has over me, I have to identify where these feelings originate. I have to heal and find peace.

It is time to use my honesty quest to look deeper inside; look further back and find the root cause of my fears and anxieties. If I can do this, then I will be able to remove the negative influence this person has over me and re-discover my inner-confidence.

This week’s mantra will be: ‘be who you are and want to be!’

Honestly Struggling

Today’s Thought: Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.

Right now I am struggling. Work is tough; we aren’t meeting our targets and my superiors are telling me it’s unacceptable. Because of this all the gremlins lurking in my mind on the look out for threat are in overdrive, telling me that I am unacceptable.

It is going to take all my strength to quieten the gremlins and goblins down. To tell them that it’s not me that’s unacceptable, it’s the situation and situations can change.

It’s going to take all my strength to convince others that we can change the situation if we really want to and that we certainly shouldn’t just accept defeat. We all need to continue to fight; we all need to believe we can win.

I need to believe I can win; that I have the skills and competency to lead my team to the finish line where a participant’s pack awaits us! We might not win gold, but we will finish the race and we will give every ounce of effort we have.

Over the past three weeks the murky mist of depression has been hovering, infiltrating the breaches in my armour. It’s a fearsome vapour, but I intend to be a vigorous opponent. When it whispers poison, I will shout back with the remedy. The remedy is knowing that I am enough, just as I am. I will not capitulate, because I am enough and no matter how grinding and gruelling the journey, I can make it. It doesn’t matter if I take a different route; it doesn’t matter if I have different equipment in my pack or a take a different mode of transport. It matters that I get there.

I am enough; you are enough. We all are enough, just as we are.

Fighting Fear with Honesty

Today’s Thought: I will have the moral courage to make my actions consistent with my knowledge of right and wrong.

The past two weeks I have been living in my lizard brain. I have allowed it to hijack me and infiltrate my thoughts and generate my feelings. It is sickeningly exhausting and I have resolved to stop it.

I now have a superior who scares me. Why is this? It’s because I am terrified she will expose me as a fraud; that she will see I am incapable of doing my job; that she will confirm what I fear most – I am a failure.

How am I going to change my thought pattern? I am stuck with this superior, so I have to find a way not to just live with them, but to thrive with them; I must find a way to believe in myself and my capabilities and I need to be as honest with myself as I am trying to be with others.

I am going to make a list of hard evidence that proves I am good at my job and then a list of the areas I need to improve in order to feel really confident at my job. I am going to use this list when working with my superior – if I feel it’s an area that I am competent in, then I am going to make sure I have the evidence to prove it to hand; if it’s an area I am fearful that I lack the skills with knowledge for, I am going to ask for advice and support.

For others to believe in me, I need to do so first. Honestly, it’s a tough ask – I rely on others for reassurance so much that it is going to be deeply uncomfortable to change, but change it I must.

My honesty journey is now taking me to unchartered territory – I must be positively honest with myself.

Honesty Unappreciated/Inappropriate.

Today’s Thought: We need to accept that we won’t always make the right decisions; that we’ll screw up royally sometimes. Understanding that failure is not the opposite of success – it’s part of success.

It’s hard to do this when so many aspects of yourself are in conflict!

I am hardwired to think I am only as good as my achievements or doing as well as other people think of me, therefore when things go awry, as they are naturally going to from time to time, I relentlessly beat myself up and wallow in the slime of shame.

This week, I messed up. I was too honest too soon. I met a new superior for the first time and they fired questions at me. I had failed to anticipate that this would happen and panicked. I couldn’t think straight; I stuttered, sounded unsure of myself and gave poor answers. I knew the answers were poor and apologised to my superior, saying ‘I’m so sorry, that was a terrible answer.’ They replied with a roll of the eyes and ‘Yes, it was.’

Shame crashed into the room like a tsunami, dragging with it the debris of every other embarrassing or humiliating moment of my life. The jagged edges tore through my composure, leaving it in tatters. I cried. More shame; I was engulfed.

I had shown my vulnerability and it was found to be unacceptable. ‘Do you usually cry?” they said, distain punctuating every word. I felt crushed, child-like and admonished. More shame.

On my road to a more honest existence, I had not anticipated the reality that not everyone wants to see the real me and that I actually have to be OK with that. I am struggling to accept that there are aspects of my daily life where I am going to have to put on a front; wear a shield and pretend. It’s hard for me as I feel this pretence is akin to not be accepted for who I am. What I have to do is consider that maybe it isn’t that at all; it’s simply that in some situations, it’s not acceptable to be the real me. It doesn’t me the person hasn’t accepted me, it means they want me to manage the situation differently.

In my job, I am required to present a particular image, give particular answers in particular ways. It’s how we ‘win’ in the ‘game’ we’ve been asked to play. I have always feared games; I lose games because I don’t always understand the rules. My role is something I fought hard to achieve – I thought it would make me happy and besides, I’d been told I would never achieve it so I felt I had to fight to prove to others that I could, that perhaps it would bring acceptance.

What I should have done was not fought; I should have taken the feedback of others less as a challenge; less as an assessment that I was unacceptable and more of an indication that my talents lay elsewhere. Right now, I feel I am in a constant battle to survive in my role; it makes me unhappy. I am unhappy because to be successful I have to hide my true self. Putting on a show feels dishonest and unnatural – it feels as though I am not being accepted, even though it isn’t really that at all. It’s just a role that needs fulfilling. I must learn to separate myself from the role and ultimately I must find another role more suited to my true self.

Whilst I endeavour to forgive myself for exposing my fragility to my superior, I must try to accept it as a step on the road to better things. I must remember that not everyone will appreciate an honest presentation of myself. I must accept that sometimes an honest presentation of myself is not appropriate. I must accept this, shield myself and move on.

I must choose courage over comfort (with thanks to Word Fandom http://wordfandom.wordpress.com).