Being Assertive – What does that mean for you?
It’s a huge topic, and today I want to deal with one small aspect of it.
And that aspect is how to say No.
Well actually, I’m going to talk about the first step in being able to say No.
This is such a critical life skill, I wish they taught this in schools!
Instead we have to learn this by ourselves, very slowly, and it begins with choosing to be more conscious.
Our bodies talk to us all the time, and learning to listen brings us more freedom and choice.
Watch the video to hear my story!
Do you remember times when you wanted to say No, but ended up saying Yes?
And you allowed someone else’s agenda to dictate your actions?
I’ve got powerful memories of when I haven’t been clear in saying No, and I’ve ended up hurting myself and other people.
One memory that pops out in my head is a powerful one, because my body signals were telling me the answer very clearly but I chose to ignore them.
It’s the memory of a time several years ago when I went on a date with a guy that I’d met online.
This is not a story about dating, or the etiquette of romantic interaction –
This is a story about body signals and what we choose to do about them.
We’d had a nice meal together, and at the end of the evening I had a crunch choice to make.
Do I want to see this guy again?
I felt a sickness and heaviness in the pit of my stomach yet I ignored it.
(if truth be told, I didn’t know what to do with it – I didn’t realise that this feeling was my body’s way of telling me something important)
He asked me, “So, shall we meet up again?”
Every fibre of my being was screaming ‘No’ … but my head and my words said ‘Yep, sure let’s do this again’.
The scared little girl in me was running the show – thinking
“He’s ok, he’s not that bad, I might not find anyone else, better make do with him. He won’t like me if I say No. I don’t want to make him feel bad”.
(To cut a long story short, we met up again, I got into an uncomfortable situation which was ten times worse than the first dilemma – it was much harder to say No the second time, and it ended badly)
If I’d listened to my gut and had the confidence to say No, firmly but respectfully at our first meeting, then the matter would have been resolved much quicker. )
That incident was one of the turning points for me in recognising the power of my body in showing me what is ‘right’ for me.
I’ll never forget that.
I think assertiveness starts within – with noticing your body signals and what it’s trying to tell you.
Before you can ask for what you want, or say No to what you don’t want, you first need to have a really clear internal sense of how you judge that – how does your body signal the answer for you?
What does a ‘No’ feel like in your body?
So I have a challenge for you:
1) I want you to think about an incident in your recent past where you know you wanted to say No but you didn’t.
Try to choose one that’s powerful enough so you know there is a charge to it, but not so strong that it becomes traumatic to remember it.
2) Picture the scene in your mind’s eye.
Notice where exactly you were, who was with you, who said what, and what happened in the incident.
3) Now run the scene through your mind again, and feel into your body.
What sensations did you experience – was there a sinking feeling in your stomach, a tightness in your chest, a dry feeling in your throat?
4) Try that exercise again with another memory and see if those warning feelings are the same or different.
The feelings might be different in different situations, and when you have a felt memory of your body signals in past experiences, you can begin to be more conscious in real time.
As you encounter situations that require a decision, check in with your body – how does that feel? What’s the sensation and how does that compare to my previous ones ?
Then you can start to build up a ‘portfolio’ of your body signals – and you can determine with clarity – Is this a No ?
Being able to say ‘No’ verbally, starts with you being conscious of the ‘No’ internally.
And that’s a lifelong skill to develop!
I’m still working on that myself, and I know that in every moment I’m called to make a decision, my ‘gut’ will lead me to the right answer if I choose to tune in and listen!
Over To You:
I’d love to know how this lands for you – what are your clear signals for a ‘No’ ? Any tips to share on your experiences with being assertive? Please leave me a comment in the box!
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