Choices and Assertiveness

Choices are all around us. Even where there does not seem to be a choice, there is; no choice is a choice. Only it is by default. A choice without consent. A choice that brings stress and resentment. Rightly used, choices are empowering. The key for healthy choices is assertiveness. Assertive behavior speaks up without undue anxiety whether choosing for or against.

Chose to: When asked to do something that is right-up-your alley, be upfront in saying, “Yes”. Assertiveness does not wait to be begged; they may pass over you. Follow up with immediate action or planning. Put it on your calendar. Make cursory notes of resources, time frame and people you will ask to be co-creators.

Choose not to: It is okay to say “No” and feel good about it. Even if it is something you are super good as doing and have done a hundred times before. “No” is a complete sentence and does not have to be explained. Gently refuse with “this is not a good time” or “I already have something planned.” Personal downtime is a valid “something else”.

To continually say “Yes” when you prefer to say “No” builds resentment in you. Resentment undermines the very relationship that your dishonest “Yes” is trying to build.

Choose to: Sometimes jobs have assignments met with dread, obligation or duty. The saving grace is to accept the task with a spirit of choice. Change “I have to” to “I choose to”. This refreshing challenge-accepted attitude sets you up to: learn something, hone skills, improve relationships, value work, earn your pay, be healthier and relieves stress.

Choose to: When asked to do something that scares you, yet you really want to accept (run for president, chair a committee, be promoted), go ahead and jump in. Overcome the false humility and agree. Others see in your possibilities you may not see in yourself. There will be a learning curve and you can grow into it.

How to choose: The first step in making any choice is to be aware. Anxiety is the body’s way of saying “pay attention”. Your survival mechanism wants to keep you healthy and cannot do so without your cooperation. Embrace a pregnant pause before responding. This small retrieve calms emotions and engages rational thinking. Discern if the anxiety is the feeling of being put upon or fear of a new challenge.

Allow your mind to scan for repeat patterns. Who/what are you passionate about and were the outcomes positive or negative? Has your default position left you being controlled or being in control? What is effective? What has not been effective? Based on your internal guidance system, make the choice that is best for you.

Glean life-changing information through self-help articles and books. Beware; knowledge absorbed without an outlet stagnates. The Dead Sea, though full of rich minerals, cannot support life. Action is the distraction. Knowledge applied, even in a fledgling way builds wings to soar. Allow your “Yes” or “No” to determine what is possible.

Making assertive choices is both a process and a product. The process involves regarding everything as though you do have a choice. You do. The product, the end result, is a life lived on your own terms while in cooperation with others. It is not to rule over others, but to make peace with you.



Growing Up

“I’m afraid to grow up.” This was Laura’s pronouncement to her mom following a hurtful disagreement with a classmate (Little House on the Prairie).

Ma, in her wisdom replied, “I guess nobody grows up all the way. There is a little girl inside every woman, and there is a little woman inside every girl. As you put some distance to this hurt, you can look back and find some humor in it.”

Here are some thoughts on growing up, regardless of our chronological age.

Be authentic. Do not try to be someone you are not. Success is not dependent on who we are as much as on what we do with who we are. Trying to be different in order to try to live up to another’s expectations can be exhausting as well as come across as being fake. It also can lead to failure as well as internal conflict.

Set goals in keeping with your personal values. Goals are those things that motivate us to continue to move forward; they should never clash with one’s core values. Every decision has consequences. Live life so that you are comfortable with the outcome of your choices. Harmony in interpersonal relationships results in limited chaos or second-guessing.

Be responsible for your own actions. Responsibility is having the ability to control how you respond. Be proactive rather than reactive. Do not allow outside circumstances dictate your decisions or you’ll find yourself heading to the burnout trap. When reverses and lapses occur, rethink and keep moving toward being your authentic self.

Make time for your. Set an appointment with you and honor it just as you would any other important meeting. You need sufficient hours for your own relaxation and the things that you enjoy. Avoid the propensity to take care of everyone and everything while neglecting your own needs.

Celebrate successes. Catch yourself doing “the right thing” and acknowledge your maturity. Those times you held your tongue rather than lashing out. When you acknowledged another’s personality differences rather than passing judgment. When you chose to listen and empathize rather than assume.

Learn from failures. Robert F. Kennedy said, “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” There is no shame in failing or making mistakes. Do not dwell on setbacks; learn from them and move on. Everyone has baggage. The goal is to jettison your ego-imposed guilt so you can grow.

As we acknowledge our humanness and put distance to the hurt or embarrassment or disappointment, “you can look back and find some humor in it.” That is emotional maturity.


An Attitude Shift

In Science 101 we learned the structure of atoms. The nucleus of the atom contains a mix of positively charged protons along side of neutrally charged neutrons. Surrounding the nucleus of the atom is a cloud of negatively charged electrons. Everything inside the nucleus of the atom is positive or neutral. Everything swirling around the nucleus of the atom is negative. I suggest the core of our God-given humanity is to be positive or neutral. But, like the atom, the world-swirl surrounding us is negatively charged.

The negatively charged electrons affect the structure of things. Science continually discovers new mysteries of the atom; seeing as true things never imagined (i.e. an atom can occupy two spaces at the same time).

Insight is a mysterious function that makes a huge difference in the way we view life. Insight can transform the negative into neutral or positive. Insight gives meaning and purpose in the midst of the negative swirl of life.

You are not as unhappy as you might think you are. You are in charge of your own happiness. Trying to parlay it to others is futile – as in expecting someone else to make you happy. They can contribute to your enjoyment of life, but you alone make yourself happy. It is done through finding inner joy even in the midst of difficulties.

Not all my needs have gone unmet. From the day of my birth until this present moment I have been surrounded by love (whether I recognized it or not). I have been nurtured and cared for. I (we) have had adequate - actually more than adequate - food, shelter, protection, supplies, money; the things we often mistake as necessities of life. How about you? Are your needs as unmet as your down-days project?

All we can give or receive is information. Receive information at face value without construing hidden agendas. Only give information that is truthful, respectful and for the good of all.

It is okay to not know. We are finite individuals and the scope of information is unfathomable. The more we learn about humanity, technology, space, minerals and on and on the greater the knowledge disparity grows. Over and above what we know is the expanse of our imaginations.

Choose to not be offended by disagreements. In any given exchange one brings to the table the totality of his life experiences. Are there UFO’s? What about life after death? How did they build the pyramids? There are too many variables – real and imagined - to be upset by one’s slant of the subject. Regardless of the view taken, his worth as a human being is neither diminished nor added to. When one is right or wrong, that is all s/he gets to be (not superior or inferior).

Be open to life. In childlike wonder embrace shifts with “Oh, yeah, I don’t know why I didn’t see that before?” Epiphany is an intuitive leap of understanding brought about through ordinary but striking occurrence. Epiphany is the awareness of the Divine at work in and through the mundane of life.

The law of gravity holds sway over all of us. Drag is the force that opposes movement through water or holds you down from jumping. It takes lift and thrust to overcome pull and drag. Not only can it be triumphed in aviation but also in our thinking.

Thanks for reading. Please leave a comment.


"Why" and "Why Not?"

The answer to “Why” is and always has been one of two reasons:
· “Because it seemed like a good idea at the moment.”
· “Because all the conditions were met for it to have happened.”

The answer to “Why not” is and always has been one of three reasons:
· “Because s/he did not think of that at the moment and you were not there.”
· “Because s/he thought of it and decided against it.”
· “Because all the conditions were not met for it to have happened.”

Simplistic? No. Simplistic is to see things from only one-dimension. Simplistic is the failure to acknowledge the countless variables that goes into every-single-solitary interaction.

Suppose you went home to find that your dwelling had been completely destroyed. Finding out “why” – a fluke tornado, a misdirected wrecking ball, an explosion - may bring some peace of mind. The fact remains that the damage has been done and the next step is moving forward.

Searching for “why” or “why not” will not rebuild the house/relationship. It impedes progress. To clean up the mess begins by regaining your stability, by finding the courage within you to do your part in rebuilding the structure or restoring the relationship.

To continue searching for “why” or “why not” comes from failure to accept what happened or what did not happen. It comes from the heart of a griever. It comes from something you want to cry about.

We cannot move past what we have not embraced. We do not have the liberty to throw away that which we do not own. So acknowledge the hurt and own your emotions. Then step into the renewal of today and be pleasantly surprised when peace shows up.

Work on developing relationship. That is not to say that the past will never be discussed. It is to say that past discretion will consciously and deliberately be set aside while emotions are healed and relationship is rebuilt. And be pleasantly surprised when forgiveness shows up. You will know when the past is not worth remembering.

Whenever offends comes you have a choice to make: Will I use my energy and emotions for retaliation or for resolution? You can’t do both. What do you choose? Why not?

What would you like discussed? Let me hear from you.