As well as looking at what you eat, part of your LighterLife weight loss journey is also about how you react in certain situations. If you’re always striving to please others, perhaps it’s time to take a different route and learn to be more assertive. Here are our tips for helping you to do that.
Assertiveness is not about being outspoken, bossy or single-minded, it’s about respecting yourself and the rights and feelings of others. As motivational speaker and business mentor Cal Le Mon says, ‘assertiveness is not what you do, it’s who you are’ – meaning that it’s much more than saying what you want. It springs from having an inner confidence, from you valuing yourself and your contribution to the world.
Step up and take responsibility
Someone who is assertive is direct, honest, accepting, responsible, positive and willing to listen. They take responsibility for their own actions.
‘She is able to accept her own positive and negative qualities and, in doing so, is able to be more authentic in her acceptance of others,’ explains Anne Dickson, author of A Woman In Your Own Right. ‘She does not need to put others down in order to feel comfortable in herself.’
A key trait of assertive people is to acknowledge and ask for what they need – even if they know that they may be rejected. ‘Truly assertive people have a very strong sense of self,’ explains LighterLife’s psychology expert, Mandy Cassidy. ‘They are not dependent on the approval of those around them.’
Address your fear of consequences
By exposing your fears, you can challenge them, which will make it easier to assert your own needs. For example, a friend invites you round for pizza, even though she knows you’re unhappy with your weight and on a diet. Rather than just go along, eat the pizza, feel guilty and blame your friend, or, stay at home and wallow in self-pity, the assertive alternative would be to say, ‘Pizza isn’t the best option for me right now, but I’d love to come round so I’ll bring an alternative.’
By doing this you’re not expecting your friends to take pity on or care of you. You’re being true to your needs, while still respecting others.
Buy some time
If someone puts you on the spot, buy yourself some time to respond. For example, if a friend calls and invites you to a dinner party, rather than say ‘yes’ automatically to keep her happy, say, ‘let me get back to you’. That way, you’ve bought yourself some time to think exactly how you want to respond.
Take criticism on the chin
It’s vital to not let criticism get to you – remove your detractor’s power to hurt you. For example, if you’re accused of being a spoilsport for not accepting a dinner invitation, understand that it’s your right to stand your ground and not get drawn into a fight. Simply say, ‘I’m not being a spoilsport. Losing weight is important to me and it’s helping to improve my self-esteem. Perhaps we can do something else together instead?’
‘At the end of the day, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to being assertive,’ says Mandy. ‘Ultimately it’s about building your self-esteem, so that you feel comfortable in your own skin and have a centred sense of self.
‘This may take some time and practice, but in doing so you’ll go on to live a more open and relaxed life, free of self-criticism.’