Assertiveness and Being Heard

In our third and final post about assertivness, we look to being heard. To be honest, this is a tricky one.  Sometimes we do so much work on finding our courage to voice our opinion, or tell someone how we feel, that we make an automatic assumption that the person we talk to about our needs is going to respond accordingly. And that doesn’t always happen. As a result, we can feel deflated and ask ourselves, “Why even bother?’

The fact is, you can’t change another person and sometimes their habits have become their automatic reactions. We need to learn to find our voice for the sake of making ourselves important; of placing our needs in the running for appropriate attention. I like to remind clients that we must “reward the effort, not the outcome.” We can certainly hope for some good changes and a positive reaction, but the reward is in having recognized our needs and then stating them.

That being said, when we do find the courage to state our needs or our feelings about something, the trick is to do it calmly. Using anger or a sharp tone will fall on deaf ears and the message is lost. The best probability of success will come when we remain calm and stick to the facts; this tends to carry the most weight.

As Dr. Jonice Webb states, “Assertiveness is: Speaking up for yourself — in a way that the other person can hear.” A good definition to keep in mind.

To visit Dr. Jonice Webb’s website:

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Assertiveness and Your Voice

Building on yesterday’s post and the description given to us about assertiveness by Dr. Jonice Webb, we can break down the two individual parts to the definition: “Assertiveness is: Speaking up for yourself — in a way that the other person can hear.” 

(As a note: although this definition of assertiveness was pulled from the article I cited in yesterday’s blog post, the rest of this post is my writing only.)

The first part of that statement refers to the process of finding our voice. When we speak up for our self, we begin by being able to recognize what our needs are. Sometimes that means slowing down before we say yes, before we allow ourselves to react, before we make a decision. It means that we begin by processing our feelings – knowing if we have enough energy to agree to something, thinking about how someone else’s behaviour or choice affected us or made us feel, what our opinion might be about something.

Very often, our habits become our reactions. Immediately saying yes to a request, or saying “It doesn’t matter,” – when it does. The first step in being able to have a voice is to first recognize what our needs are. From there, we can not only work up the courage to state our needs, we can do so in a way that allows us to be heard.

To visit Dr. Jonice Webb’s website:

Photo credit: http://Photo by Vivek Doshi on Unsplash

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The Missing Piece to Being Assertive

In an article entitled, “Why is it So Hard to Be Assertive? 5 Skills You Learn” by Dr. Jonice Webb, she writes about the importance of knowing the true meaning of assertiveness. I quote:

“Why is it so hard to be assertive? There are some very good reasons why it’s such a struggle for so many.The first reason is that lots of people think they know exactly what assertiveness is, but they actually only know half of the definition. That missing half makes a huge difference. Assertiveness is: Speaking up for yourself — in a way that the other person can hear. These two aspects of assertiveness, and how they work together, are what make assertiveness a skill which must be learned, rather than a natural ability. Most people have a hard time with the first half or with the second half, and many folks struggle with both. Also, our ability to be assertive varies with the situation, the people involved, and the amount of emotion that we are feeling at the time.”

This article resonates for me in that it focuses on the two areas we must consider when becoming more assertive; the first area, being able to recognize our needs and the second, being able to express them in a way that we feel heard. We will take the next two posts to look at each area so as to gain a greater understanding of this valuable skill.

In the meantime, check out Dr. Webb’s full article:

Photo credit: http://Photo by Wynand van Poortvliet on Unsplash

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Five Things That Tell You You’re Doing the Work

We like to say in therapy that it’s about “doing the work.” The understanding piece is important in getting there; so is self-reflection; but at some point we have to roll up our sleeves and dig in. Here are five ways to know if you’re doing the work:

  • Not immediately placing blame when reacting to something. This means you are taking the time to evaluate how you reacted, why you are having that response, and how you want to move forward in dealing with situation.
  • Creating new coping strategies. This process first begins by being able to recognize old ways of coping that may have protected you in the past, but are no longer serving you.
  • Creating clear boundaries. This includes learning how to say no, putting drama in it’s place, and learning which relationships to cultivate and those you need to manage.
  • Accountability. Not only for your own choices, but for the behaviour of others as well. It is about learning to carry only what is ours.
  • Self-care. You got it! You are doing the work when you can recognize your worth and celebrate it with time set aside for self-care.

Exploration is only piece of the process. “Doing the work” is another 🙂

Photo credit: http://Photo by sue hughes on Unsplash

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A Quote About Silence

I came across this quote that resonated with what it means to be silent:

“There comes a time when the world gets quiet and the only thing left is your own heart. So you’d better learn the sound of it. Otherwise you’ll never understand what it’s saying.” – Sarah Dessen

So often, we fear the silence; it feels too empty. But that is the perfect time for reflection. When we slow things down to silence, that is when we can really think. That is when we can catch up with ourselves and get to know our true self. That is when we will understand what our heart is trying to say 🙂

Photo credit: http://Photo by Daniele Levis Pelusi on Unsplash

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Self-Reflection Question 2

Self-reflection is an important part of getting to know ourselves; it is a requirement in “doing the work.” The self-reflection question for today is:

“Am I using my time wisely?”

This appears to be quite a simple question. And yet, it is worth the moments we take to think about how we are using our time. Do we say “yes” to everything? Do we wake up in the morning and don’t stop until our head hits the pillow at night? Do we choose mindless activities as a way to zone out or fill time?

How do we spend our spare time? How do we organize our tasks when we have a busy day ahead and time is limited? Do we allow enough time to relax? Unwind? Feed our comfort system? How is our time spent with others?

It is important to evaluate how we spend our time so as to feel balanced. To know that despite busy schedules, we will set aside time for ourselves and our loved ones; that we can give ourselves permission to slow down, to enjoy, to appreciate the moments that we find when we choose our time wisely. For as Mother Teresa says, “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”

Photo credit: http://Photo by Amanda Jones on Unsplash

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Trevor Noah and his take on relationships

Building on yesterday’s post in which we learned from Iyanla Vanzant what she learned about relationships, today we take a look at what Trevor Noah has to say about his own experience.

“Born a Crime” is Trevor Noah’s memoir of childhood. Trevor Noah is a South African comedian, who writes about his life growing up in South Africa during the tail end and aftermath of apartheid. I appreciated this quote from the book:

“Relationships are built in the silences. You spend time with people, you observe them and interact with them, and that is how you come to know them.This is what apartheid stole from us” – Trevor Noah, Born a Crime

Trevor writes this is response to his experience in having to hide his relationship to his white father. Because of the laws of apartheid, Trevor wasn’t allowed to call him ‘Dad,’ wasn’t allowed to look like they were walking together down city streets, wasn’t allowed to live with him.

And yet, that is how we get to truly know people; is in the time we spend together, through the memories we make, through the shared laughter and tears, through the activities we engage in, through the silences.

Photo credit: http://Photo by Jonas Eriksson on Unsplash

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Iyanla Vanzant and her take on relationships

In a recent podcast with Iyanla Vanzant on Oprah’s Supersoul Conversations, Iyanla had this to say about what she learned about herself in relationships:

“I learned three things:

  • I learned the depth of the wound with my father. Because every man that I was in relationship with, I was trying to get something from that I didn’t get from my father.
  • Number 2, I learned the depths to which I would degrade myself to get someone else’s acceptance.
  • And then, the other thing that I learned was, I have a right to ask for what I want, and then to choose how I respond, if you can’t give it to me. That is where I learned that you don’t get to tell people how to love you – you get to see how they love you and then you get to choose whether or not you want to participate.”

As I was listening to the podcast, this was a ‘pause’ moment for me. It is a reminder, that in order to get to the third lesson, you have to have gone through the first two. We need to understand what we learned about love from our opposite sex parent, we need to learn where we place ourselves in loving others, and finally, through growth, we learn that we can choose how we are going to be loved.

Well said, Iyanla 🙂

To listen to the full podcast:

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Little Quote About Courage

I came across this quote by Jonathon Lockwood Huie:

“Adventure is the child of courage.” – Jonathon Lockwood Huie

What often holds us back are our fears. We are afraid of the unknown, of change, of transition. We will often waver in our decisions, plagued by self-doubt. It can keep us in limbo, or feeling stuck for a long time.

I often talk about how curiousity tempers fear. In order to begin to move past our fears, we have to lean into our curiosity, gathering information about the what-ifs. This process will eventually ask courage to join the mix. As we begin to work through our fears, the courage to make a decision, to step forward, to challenge the status quo, becomes stronger and we can begin to create stepping stones to structural change.

And when we have both curiousity, followed by courage? That is where we will find adventure 🙂

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SEEDS of a Healthy Brain; Work of Dr. John Arden – Post 5

In our final post on SEEDS, we look at what Dr. John Arden considers to be the fifth seed to nurture our brain: Sleep. Dr. Arden notes that what best promotes brain function is deep sleep:

“There’s an architecture to sleep. The most important stage is called stage 4 sleep – that’s the deepest sleep. Good quality sleep is critical for your ability to think clearly the next day. Creating a  good sleep hygiene and having good sleep practices is critical for mental health and for not developing dementia later on, but most importantly for not having too much anxiety or depression the next day.”

Granted, there are many people who report not sleeping well despite their best efforts. I suppose that best efforts is the point in this case; creating a nightly routine that is feeds the comfort system, avoiding alcohol or caffeine in the evening, meditation before bed – these can all help to try and get the best sleep possible.

And when we get a good night’s sleep? It increases our brain cell growth, produces serotonin, increases our memory capacity and helps booster our immune system. Sleep also helps give us more energy and can act as a natural mood stabilizer. All the more reason to hit the sack!

Dr. Arden reminds us that it is never too late to begin nurturing the SEEDS of a healthy brain – from social interaction to exercise; education, diet and sleep. Working towards tangible goals helps not only in our need to move forward, in this case, we will also be contributing to the longevity of our brain function; sounds good to me!

To visit Dr. John Arden’s website:

Information for this post was found partially in two articles: and

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