Blog

Assertiveness

I can't count the number individuals I have seen who have difficulty using assertivene communication. Many people tend to rely on either passive-aggressive or aggressive means in order to solve conflict and get their needs met. Yet when these tactics are used the relationships we are in tend to suffer and more conflict tends to arise. 

Many use passive aggressive tactics in order to avoid direct confrontation. However, these tactics leave others in your life frustrated and unsure how to respond to you.

Examples of passive-aggressiveness:

  • Making roundabout statements in order to push people to respond in a certain way. "I guess nobody cares since none of you said anything." "Looks like I'll be doing the laundry yet again."     
  • Silent treatment
  • Behavior to express dislike, such as chronically arriving late to something you don't want to do or purposefully mispronouncing someone's name

Others use aggressiveness often because they are afraid they will not get what the want/need if they use less forceful tactics.

Examples of aggressiveness:

  • Yelling/shouting
  • Threats
  • Intimidation
  • Physical Force

Assertiveness, on the other hand, is when the person directly asks for what they need. It can be scary because it involves being honest about what is going on for you and because it allows for the other person to say no to what you are asking for. For instance, in the first example of passive aggressiveness the person would instead say to the others involved something like: "I felt hurt when you didn't say anything because it made me think that you don't care. I would like for you to ___________." 

    The example just given is the basic form of an "I-statement." I-statements have three main components
  1. The person owns their own feelings by beginning with "I feel _______" This takes the blame off of the other party. More often a person might say, "You don't care." However, this sets the other person involved on the defensive with a need to defend their position. Using the "I feel" instead allows the person to hear what you have to say because you are speaking about yourself and not pointing fingers at them.
  2. The person explains their position with the because __________. This allows the others involved greater understanding into how they affect you and can often allow them to respond in a more caring fashion
  3. The person then asks for what they need from the other. The other involved can of course say no but at least you have clearly stated your needs and can then decide how to proceed within the relationship based on their response.

    Another important part of assertiveness is the ability to set boundaries. This means being able to say no and to not overextend yourself. 

    Perhaps you use an I-statement and the person says no to your request. Perhaps your request is something you definitely need to have in a relationship to feel happy and satisfied. If this is the case, it may be time to set a boundary by ending or altering the relationship in a way that maintains your sense of health and safety. Or perhaps a friend simply asks you for a favor and you are already stretched thin, being able to say, "No I can't" is an important assertiveness skill.

    Change is the Only Constant

    BirdWings by Rumi
    Your grief for what you’ve lost lifts a mirror
    up to where you’re bravely working.
    Expecting the worst, you look, and instead,
    here’s the joyful face you’ve been wanting to see.
    Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes.
    if it were always a fist or always stretched open,
    you would be paralyzed.
    Your deepest presence is in every small contracting
    and expanding,
    The two as beautifully balanced and coordinated
    as birdwings.

    That is one of my favorite poems. I think it has so much truth in it. You and your life are always changing and when you are lost in darkness, know there will always be a light at the end of the tunnel. We often learn the most about ourselves and grow the most when we are in periods of change and instability. Also, the ability to shift and change often comes about more quickly when you are able to stay present with what is happening.

    It is often our natural tendency to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Some take this so far as to completely numb out during times of difficulty. However, if you are numb or disconnected it becomes incredibly difficult to move into a new state of being. It also can get to the point where you no longer feel anything at all- good or bad. You may miss opportunities or fail to see things that you can do in order to change your situation. Instead if you can accept your situation for what is it and stay present to all of your thoughts, feelings, and experiences, no matter how painful, then you can learn much and in the end move into a better state of being than would have been otherwise possible.

    Sometimes the pain you are experiencing may be so deep and you may feel so stuck that you cannot find the shift on your own. Instead of running from the experience, at that point, reach out to others for support. It is much easier to find your way out of darkness with a guide whether that's a trusted friend, a spiritual or community leader, or a professional.

    Change is the one certainty we have in life. There will be good days and bad days. There will be days when all your dreams seem to be coming true and days when it seems like your hopes are completely dashed. You owe it to yourself to be able to experience all the days of your life, to live fully and completely. In order to fully savor the days of joy you must also be able to feel your days of grief. They are all a part of life, would you rather be living or avoiding?

    Now Teaching Yoga!

    This was my first week at Practic Yoga, a new studio on the west side of LA. Check them out at practicyoga.com. If hour and a half classes don't fit into your schedule or seem a bit intimidating, they offer one hour and 45-min classes.

    I am teaching two of the 45min classes. One on Mondays at Noon and on on Tuesdays at 1:00pm. The Monday class is a playful Daoist based class that gets your energy flowing with movement exercises and your body stretched out with dynamic partner stretches. The Tuesday class helps you work the kinks out of your neck, back, and shoulders and gets you feeling relaxed and renewed.

    First class is free, so come try it out!

    The Importance of Food

    Do you find yourself getting tired as the day wears on? Do you feel exhausted after physical activity? Do you feel irritable at the end of the day or famished come dinner time? If so, it could be as simple as a need to feed your body more properly.

    A dietician I once worked with when working in Eating Disorders treatment, told me that your brain begins to starve after not having food for 4 hours and that your brain and body function best when being fed at least a snack every 2-3 hours. Our culture is not well disposed to this kind of eating pattern, however. We often rush out the door, missing breakfast. And many times we eat more than enough at meals to feel uncomfortably full, or we simply wait until we feel extremely hungry to eat, or we get wrapped up in what we're doing and forget to eat.

    I was lucky on the breakfast front. My mother always said, "It's the most important meal of the day," and made sure I ate every morning before taking me to school. Breakfast is a habit for me. But eating smaller meals with snacks in between? That definitely took practice. I was used to eating only three meals a day with maybe one snack and/or dessert. But this often left me with being so hungry when I got home from work that I had to eat right then and there or else become quite grouchy. Getting into the habit of having nutritionally balanced snacks between meals has left me with more energy throughout the day, less irritability, and I almost never feel that FEED ME NOW feeling.

    We can all benefit by giving our bodies the proper nutrition. Snack, get in all your food groups, and drink plenty of water. That can sound simple but for many it's not either due to lifestyle reasons as noted above, or due to deeper reasons. If the reasons behind not feeding your body properly are deeper, you can find ways beyond food to find the sense of control and happiness you seek. Ask me how, give me a call or leave a comment. May we all enjoy a happy, healthy, balanced life full of joy. You deserve to feel good!

    Yogic Self-Discipline and a Balanced Life

    One of the yogic principles of conduct is self-discipline. But what does that mean? Does it mean having a daily practice, does it mean having self-control in your daily interactions, being disciplined in terms of work and organization? And when does self-discipline turn into rigidity?

    Yoga is about being flexible in not just body but mind as well. If we let our self-discipline turn into a rigid practice then we are no longer practicing in a yogic way. Which means, we need balance!

    How do you find balance in your life? How do you have self-discipline without getting stuck in rigid patterns?

    One of the ways I do this is to take breaks and to use those breaks to do something I enjoy. Do you often work through your lunch? Research shows productivity increases when employees take breaks. So give yourself your lunch time to eat and relax and then go back into your work feeling refreshed. Also, use your weekends for enjoyable activities. It's easy to let your weekends be the time you can focus on housework and errands but bring some balance in and go to the movies or read a book as well.

    Do you feel guilty when you take time for yourself? If so, you may want to use self-discipline in order to dive into self-reflection and figure out why that is. Do you tell others in your life they are selfish if they take time for themselves? I bet you don't. So what makes you the exception? Give yourself permission to have some balance in your life and then you'll have more energy when you go all of the other things you believe you should be doing.

    Does this idea of balance or taking time for yourself strike a chord with you? Is doing self-introspection alone not enough? Call me!

    Live Your Truth!

    So many people walk around each day wearing one mask or another. Growing up you may have learned form your families or society what emotions you are allowed to show or what parts of yourself are not ok. So you learned to hide those "bad" emotions and swallow those "wrong" parts. But what do you do when hiding behind your mask begins to negatively impact your relationships, life, or work?

    If you are beginning to feel this way, you are not alone. Many people seek outside help for this very reason! Either of my therapies can help you learn to live and speak your truth and to gain the self-esteem to feel good about doing so. Also, there are some things you can start doing right now to help you on your journey to being the Real You.

    These things are:

    -Journaling or Drawing- engaging in open ended writing or art can help you recognize disowned parts of yourself

    -Engaging in an activity you always thought about doing but were afraid to try- what a great way to build your self-esteem!

    -Telling yourself an affirmations such as: "I am ok just the way I am." Or "I am glad to be me and all of my feelings are ok."- This one may feel silly at first but if you notice your thoughts are usually criticizing or negative, how would it feel to think more positively about yourself?

    Why I Do What I Do

    As a young person, I was always the one others came to talk to. This lead me into studying psychology in college and eventually to pursuing a career in the helping professions. I have an immense love and respect for humanity. I see the good in people and have a desire to help them see their own strengths and potential.

    Helping others heal gives me a profound sense of meaning and purpose in my life. I have a passion for the therapies I practice and I feel honored to be able to witness another person's deep truths.