22 August 2019
Sometimes people just want a solution, to feel there is something immediately accessible to resolve difficult experiences, thoughts and feelings. The internet is full of advice and information about steps people can take, how to overcome issues etc. With people explaining how they managed to find solutions themselves. Much of this is useful advice and can be very helpful. And sometimes it is not enough.
The reality in life is that sometimes it can just take time. Just like some physical conditions can take several attempts and some time to manage, so it can be with our thoughts, feelings and experiences. Living with uncertainty and not knowing the outcome can feel unsettling and anxiety provoking.
One of the things that can help us through difficult times is having a sense of who we are and that we will be OK: Knowing we will adapt, we will learn, we will survive. We call this being resilient. It’s not about being super tough or strong. It’s knowing we are still OK even if we are vulnerable or ask for help. That we can go through difficult times and be OK.
There is a lot written about resilience as being about taking control with a list of what you can do. However, in my view this is misleading, and resilience is more about seeing yourself as able to adapt and learn whatever happens to you. You cannot overcome or change everything that comes along but you can find a way to live with it.
If we focus everything on the factors we cannot control, we end up dis-empowering ourselves. Instead we can stay in touch with what we have managed to live through so far: all the things we have managed to do, the gains we have made, our strengths and skills, our experiences, building self-support and the support around us. Sometimes our difficult time can help us realise what we have, and at the same time it can also show us where we still need to improve or develop. So, learning and adapting is always part of resilience.
Very often we know to advise our friends and family of these things. But being patient with ourselves can be harder. Sometimes the answer is less about finding actions or solutions, it is more about feeling OK with ourselves.
28 March 2019
Being assertive means being able to speak up for yourself whilst respecting the rights and beliefs of others: assertiveness . I see it as respecting yourself as well as others with a sense of responsibility for the possible outcomes. Sometimes choosing not to be assertive can be as valid as being assertive.
Speaking up for ourselves depends a lot on how much confidence and self-esteem we possess in any given situation. Learning to respect and trust yourself can support being assertive and in turn assertiveness can boost self-confidence. How do you build this self-confidence so that you can be assertive? There are some simple practical things we can do that may help us to feel better about ourselves:building-confidence-and-self-esteem .
I think learning to believe in yourself can take time and effort if you have experienced negative criticism in your life. We may internalise a criticism even if we think it is unfair so finding a counter-balance voice to that negative inner critic can support us: 5 easy-ways-to-silence-your-inner-critic/ .
What if you manage to speak up for yourself but you get criticised or ridiculed? This is always a risk and can feel hard when you first start out but if you can build that core belief in yourself it becomes easier not to crumble in the face of criticism. Being assertive means accepting that you cannot change others but you can take care of yourself. Understanding that other people may hold their views for all sorts of reasons does not mean you have to accept them. Just because someone criticises does not mean it is the whole truth. You can reflect on criticism but you do not have to accept it. You have rights and choices too.
Being assertive carries rights and responsibilities. We often have to make a choice about whether to speak up so being aware of risks and consequences is important. Not speaking up can also carry consequences- including how we may feel about ourselves. Balancing these choices is a personal decision. Overall speaking up for ourselves can be a self-supporting experience and being able to choose when you use it is an important skill to develop that helps us manage our lives.