EQ: Assertiveness, Pt. 3

Today should have concluded my two week exercise in assertiveness.

I can’t say I was completely focused on asserting myself either of these weeks.

For many reasons (gender, family roles, upbringing, etc.) I have had passiveness deeply engrained in me. It has been that was for as long as I can remember. And if there’s anything these two weeks have shown me, it’s that it’ll take a lot more than two weeks for me to become more naturally assertive. So I’m going to continue these exercises into 2017.

You see, I have always been taught to be nice to others.

On the surface this is not a bad statement.

The problem is, I have learned to be nice to others at a cost to my well being. Then I get frustrated and upset when I get hurt. I never learned how to balance this equation. I never learned that sometimes I need to put myself, my needs, my wants first.

Even when I do manage to do something that is right for me, I reason it in a way that is good for others. Doing something for myself feels wrong, selfish, horrible. But the problem is, when I always do things for other people I start getting resentful that they’re not paying back in kind. This is when my passive aggressive sides comes out.

It’s been really hard.

It’s been hard to say no when I want to say no and not feel like I have to come up with an excuse.

It’s been really hard to ask directly for what I want, knowing that someone else may very well say no.

It’s been hard but it’s getting a little bit easier every single day.

 

Because the truth is, getting rejected really hurts. But so does not getting what you want because you never asked for it.

 

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EQ: Assertiveness, Pt. 2

On Thursday I got to work, parked my car, and took my usual route in. Then I saw a coworker that had been kind of ignoring my requests at work for a few weeks.

One of the manifestations of my lack of assertiveness is that I e-mail coworkers when I need help instead of just going directly to them.

The company I work at is really trying to build a culture where people just go to other people when they need help. And I’m working on building that culture within me too.

But in the meantime, I still e-mail people. Maybe my goals for next week can be specifically related to this – no e-mailing people when I can just go to their desk. Ahhh just writing this makes me anxious.

Moving on, to this past week instead of next week.

So on Thursday, I saw this guy who had been kind of making my project a whole lot harder than it needed to be, and in the most epic bout of not-assertive I actually took a different route from my car into the building ┬áso that I wouldn’t have to interact with him.

So that totally happened. And I laughed to myself about how not assertive it was and moved on with my day.

***

A few hours later I tested my assertiveness. To me this story is both a loss and a win. It is a loss because I asserted myself over text which I don’t really believe is true assertion. It is a win because of what I did after.

Something that I’ve always struggled with is friends not responding to my texts. There are different levels of frustration depending on the friend and the nature of the text. But after a week of being ignored several times by the same friend (a complicated friendship to boot) I decided his continuing lack of answers was a perfect opportunity to assert myself.

I took some time drafting a text, making sure to acknowledge his feelings and circumstances while directly making my request.

I simply told him when friends don’t respond to my texts it upsets me and asked that he please try to get back to me in a more timely manner, especially if I have asked him a question.

As I sat there, waiting I felt nauseous and anxious. Eventually he apologized, answered my question, and invited me to drinks later.

Now this is where my real win comes. When I saw him later that evening I didn’t apologize for the text or for asserting myself. Not even during gaps in the conversation. I just let it be.

 

2017 Self-Imposed Challenge

I am super excited to announce my self-imposed challenge for 2017!!!

As some of you may know, I have a penchant for creating seemingly silly but ultimately important challenges for myself.

In 2013 I decided to run a marathon with very little running experience (and basically no off-the-treadmill running experience whatsoever).

In 2015 I decided to read at least a book a week for 13 months.

I call these challenges silly because they are. There is no great big horrible thing that will happen if I don’t do them. But they are important because they inevitably teach me important lessons.

My running challenge taught me that I was physically and mentally capable of anything I put my mind to. Even things that younger me would have never considered remotely within the realm of things I could or wanted to do. Going from nothing to running a whole marathon in 10 months makes it a lot harder to say “I don’t think I can do that” later on in life. Because I promise you that even a couple of months before I challenged myself, I thought there’s no way I could run a marathon. But I did.

My reading challenge taught me that I get to prioritize what I do with my time. This might seem trite to you, but I’d argue a lot of people don’t take this kind of responsibility over their lives. Up until college, I always loved reading. I took a book with me pretty much everywhere. Even in college, when I was on break, I usually read copiously. This changed drastically when I started working. Suddenly reading just fell off my radar. Then during my Thanksgiving break in 2014 I caught myself devouring books in a way I hadn’t done in a long time. It reminded me how much I loved reading and how much I needed to stop saying “I just don’t have time for reading any more.” This challenge allowed me to prioritize reading in a way I hadn’t let myself as an adult. And I’m glad to say it has really stuck. I may not read a book a week any more (though I still might, I haven’t been tracking), but I still read a lot, and I learned that if reading is important to me then I have to make time for it.

So this year I’m doing a cooking challenge.

I’ve always loved cooking.

Even if my deepest of dieting days I loved cooking.

But it’s way way more fun now that I allow myself to use as much butter as I want.

So I’m challenging myself to try a new recipe every week. And I’m going to try very hard to shy away from the quick, 30-minute meal recipes. I’d really like to hone my skills in the kitchen. To spend time learning about new cuisines. And to just generally up the number of things I feel comfortable cooking with no recipe on hand. Odds are I’ll do most of the new recipe cooking on the weekend to really allow myself to embrace the slow cooking methodology. Maybe I’ll even reinstate the weekly family dinner we used to do in┬áMichigan back in the day. That would be fun!

Keep an eye out for updates. And if you have any recipes you absolutely love, send them my way!