Category Archives: Personal Management

12 rules to be more assertive…

Have you ever felt that you are the doormat for the world?  That everyone is demanding a piece of you and there are just no more pieces to be given?  Are you desperate to ask for help but feel guilty at the thought of doing so?  You are a) not alone, b) resoundingly normal and c) need to be a bit more assertive.

Being assertive is not the same as being aggressive, demanding or rude.  It is simply having the confidence and the self respect to tell others how you feel, what you need, what you want and that you do not want to go along with something if it is not right for you.  That last one is the kicker.  It is saying no.  Two letters, one syllable and saying it regularly can absolutely change your life for the better.

No

This takes practice though.  A lot of us have been brought up to be yes people.  We believe that we can do it all, have it all, be the fabulous multi-tasker who can get through massive lists in a single bound.  Some of us might be.  Most of us aren’t.  We may also have been raised with the belief that we should do anything for everyone else, but neglect ourselves.  We do this at our own peril.  I am not saying that you should be selfish and self absorbed, not at all.  But sometimes, if you know you are overwhelmed, you need to say no.  “No, I can’t make it today” or “No, that really is not convenient for me” or “No, you can’t have that candy which will make you bounce of all of the walls and mean you won’t sleep for the next week and a half”.  No.  Practice it.  Say it calmly and firmly.  I promise you, it will work wonders.

According to a book I have been reading, there are 12 rules for assertiveness.  I thought it would be useful to run through them and see if there are any we can apply to our own lives.

self respect

The first rule is that you have the right to have respect for yourself, who you are, what you do and what you are trying to achieve, be that raising children, becoming a high court judge, writing a novel, finishing a study project.  What you are doing is not something to be shy or embarrassed about.  If you have passion about it, if you want to do it, then you can be assertive about it.

needs

Second thing to do is that you have the right to recognise your own needs as an individual.  That is not what your roles are in life – I am a daughter, a friend, a wife, a housekeeper, a student, a gardener, a Christian.  These roles govern my life to a large extent.  This is instead about what I need to do as me. For example, I need to write, I need to create things, I need to grow things, I need to be able to prioritise my health and fitness.  Understanding these needs will mean that you can be assertive about how to use your time so it is works out the best for you, and not for anyone else.  If that means I get up at 6am to get to the pool to do 100 lengths, then that is what I will do, and amend the expectations of the rest of the roles in relation to this requirement.

The third rule of assertiveness is to that you have the right to make clear “I” statements when you are talking about how your feel or what you think.  For example “I feel annoyed that you are out with your buddies and I am in the laundry room folding and putting away all the clothes again”,  That is being assertive.  “How dare you go out with your buddies again when I am slaving away doing the chores!!  It’s not fair!”  That is being a whiny nag.  You are communicating the same frustration, but in very different ways.

mistakes

The fourth rule is that you have the right to allow yourself to make mistakes.  We are all human, and we all make mistakes.  It is absolutely fine if you take a night off from cooking and have a microwave meal, despite being on another diet.  It is okay if you get to the end of your tether and have a wee sob in the corner.  Do what you have to do.  Mistakes mean that you will learn what works and what doesn’t.

change your mind

The fifth rule is that you have the right to change our mind if you choose to.  I am not talking about that second pair of cute shoes (but hell, if you can afford it…), I am rather talking about the big stuff.  I no longer want to be a housewife, I will go back to the world of work – absolutely your right.  I do not want to structure my day in this way, I am going to change it so I can fit in more exercise – again, absolutely your right.

thinking time

The sixth rule is that you have the right to ask for thinking about it time.  If people are demanding that you do something, and that something is not what you want to do, you are perfectly within your rights to say “I would like to think that over and I will get back to you by the end of the week”.  You then really need to get back to them by the end of the week, because otherwise that would be rude, but you are within your rights to say thanks but no thanks.

celebrate success

The seventh rule of assertiveness is that you have the right to enjoy your successes.  If you are proud of yourself for something, then tell people.  It is absolutely fine.  When I have reached my weight loss goal, you can believe that I will be shouting from the highest rooftops and sharing with everyone I know!  I also know that most of the people I know and love with be celebrating with me!

ask

The eighth rule is that you have the right to ask for what you want.  This is absolutely key.  If you really need some help with keeping the garden up to scratch, then ask for the help.  If you need someone to tame the laundry monster for you, then ask for the help.  You must ask though, because it maybe that the people around you will not see that you need the assistance.  You can’t guarantee that the people around you will know precisely what you need all the time – they aren’t mind readers.

responsibility

The ninth rule of assertiveness is that you have the right to recognise that your responsibility is not for the behaviour of other adults.  It is only for your own behaviour.  Nor are you responsible for pleasing other adults all the time.  If they are “disappointed” in you for whatever reason, then that is their problem, not yours.  If they have a hard time getting library books back on time and keep incurring fines, when it is their problem not yours.  I will confess, this is the hardest rule for me to keep.

The tenth rule is that you have the right (actually it is more of an obligation) to respect other people and their right to be assertive.  If you do that for them, then with any luck, they will do the same for you.  Life is essentially about compromise, so if you are being all assertive about your needs, remember that the other people who live with you also need to be assertive about their needs.  Be prepared for some give and take.

understand

The eleventh rule is that you have the right to say “I don’t understand”.  This is particularly useful if you get a poor reaction to some of your assertiveness.  Someone goes off in a huff because you have said you can’t make the girly spa afternoon, because it clashes with your children’s school play, then you need to get them to explain why they are upset.  Sometimes it is just a matter of clearly explaining that the children needs to come first.  In the final analysis if people are unwilling or unable to communicate in that way, then do you really need them in your life?  Probably not.

approval

Finally, the twelfth rule of assertiveness is that you have the right to deal with others without depending on them for approval.  I am not going to lie; this one is tough.  You obviously want your nearest and dearest to support you in your ideas and plans.  But in the final analysis, the only person you need approval from is yourself.  It really doesn’t matter if you haven’t got any underwear left in the drawer and it is then that you holler for help with the laundry.  All the disapproving tuts in the world are not going to help matters are they?  Or the house is at risk of a health inspection and that is when you call in the troops for a declutter and clean out.  Yes, you let it get to that state, but that is okay.  You did your best, now you need your help.  Yes, I do understand how hard that is to do!

I hope you feel that these rules will be helpful to you.  I have certainly picked up a couple of tips.

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A different sort of day today…

The blog is being posted a little later than usual today, due to a visit from our adoption social worker early on and then a bit of a mad buzz following her suggestions.  I am about to get very busy, very quickly.  A little outside viewing of the to do list does wonders for the prioritization skills!  I shall be on a set of steps, with paint brush and paint roller in hand, turning my husband’s old bedroom into a suitable gender neutral baby’s room in the next few weeks.  Oh… and I might just paint the dining room as well.  Before the 15th December.  Yes, you read that right.  Two rooms.  3 weeks.  Just as well #NaBloWriMo ends this week!!

decorating

So, according to the writing schedule, I am supposed to be writing about swimmers ear.  I have to be honest.  I am not very excited about this topic at all.  In fact, I can hardly raise the enthusiasm to go and attempt to research Swimmers Ear.  Therefore executive decision is that I shall write about something else instead.

One result of the revised priority of the to do list, is that I need to learn a new skill.  I have never made a pair of curtains.  This seems to be a skills which is necessary for me to learn living in this house.  There are a lot of windows, and although there is nothing intrinsically wrong with the curtains as they are at the moment, they are about 30 years old.  They could do with an update all around really.  So, I am going to teach myself (and get some solid advice from people who have made them before) to make curtains.

learning2

How do you go about learning a new skill?  Well, for me there are two major things.  Attitude of mind, and research.

The attitude is really key.  If you approach something new as scary, or difficult, then it is likely that you will find it so.  But if you approach it as something fun, exciting, interesting and amazing, then that is what you will find.  I prefer the latter to the former.  I also add, in my inner commentary usually, though I do sometimes give myself a good talking to, “If someone else can do this, then so can I”.  I officially set myself a challenge and then go and meet it.

curtain making

Then there is research.  I love the internet, and I adore Google.  If you have time to waste, then can I suggest Pinterest is a great place to go and bum around?  Goodness it has lots of ideas on practically everything you can think of and a few that you had never considered.  I have lots of ideas of curtains to make, but I will confess there aren’t many how to guides.  Here is where Youtube is AWESOME.  Lots of videos which might help on there, and if that fails then there is always my library of crafting books.  I bet there is something about window treatments in those books!  In fact, I know there is.  Somewhere.

So, in the next few weeks, I am going to be a very busy little bee indeed.  Please forgive me if I don’t post here on time… but I will continue to try for three times in a week once #NaBloPoMo is over!

A nice morning out and about…

We woke up to one of the first frosts of the autumn this morning… and autumn is very nearly over!  However, with such a lovely festive nip in the air, it was a delightful day for a trip out to a nearby town.

DH Lawrence

Eastwood is laden with local history, not least because it was the birthplace of DH Lawrence, of literary fame.  My Mother in Law took myself and my Mother to see a little sewing shop there, and frankly, it was a find.  A lovely find indeed actually.  I walked out with more crafty things to do and get on with (I really don’t need any more… but there you go… these things defy the laws of physics to come into my life… no, really they do!).  But the best thing was that feeling of having rosy red cheeks and really needing to have a warm pair of gloves and a scarf on.  Blissful!  🙂

We came home via a garden centre, which is always a good way of making me smile, and their Christmas section was a very tasteful display, and the best thing of all?  It started with all the nativity sets.  So nice to see them coming to the fore.  Anyway, we all purchased some bits and pieces and I am getting downright festive now.  So, I want to share with you some ideas for making the festive season a little less stressed and a lot more fun.

stockings

The first thing I did was have a look at what parts of Christmas I loved and what I didn’t.  I love the traditions.  I love Carol Singing and going to Church either at Midnight or on Christmas morning.  I love wrapping presents and giving people things they actually want and will use.  I adore baking Christmas foodie treats.  I love indulging in Christmas movies.  I love the smells I associate with the festive season (Apple, Cinnamon, Berries and Nutmeg mostly).  I LOVE turkey!!  And Cranberries.  So these are the things I want to have more of.

The things I don’t like include that rushed feeling of doing things all in the last week before Christmas like I did when I was working full time.  I don’t like feeling forced to buy lots of people lots of things, most of which they don’t really want and won’t use in any case.  I don’t like forgetting about advent and starting Christmas in September.  I don’t like houses lit up with lights that you just know are costing an absolute fortune (and lets not talk about the waste of electricity).  So, those are the things we don’t do much of.

Santa

And there… you have my secret of the holiday season.  Do what you like to do and don’t do what you don’t like to do.  This year I am going to make up some blessing bags for some homeless gentlemen who sit outside of the Cathedral where I attend Mass every week.  They are going to contain something to eat, some small change, a tooth brush, some toothpaste, a bottle of water and some wet wipes.  It isn’t much.  But it will be a blessing for them.  And it is a very good Advent thing for us to get involved in.

Eeeep! I nearly forgot!!

So after posting cute cats for yesterday, I totally forgot about the need to come and post a blog today.  It is still Sunday, so technically I haven’t ruined my so far perfect record.

Actually, I have spent my afternoon rolled up in a quilt on the sofa with a good book.  It wasn’t a work of great literature exactly, but it was easy to read and entertaining.  Plus lots of things got blown up and that suits my mood right now.

I have to tell you that at the moment, I am feeling more than a little overwhelmed.  There is so much going on and so much that has to be done, and there are only 24 hours in the day.  I just don’t know how to carve out any more time in that 24 hours for getting everything done, and to do everything that I need to do.

I have had a look on Youtube, because I hear it is a source of all kinds of things.  The best advice on Youtube?  Use it for finding videos of cute cats and tutorials on how to do crafts.  But the advice on what to do if you are overwhelmed?  No.  Not so much help.  Lots of stuff about delegating to your staff members, or turning off your emails, or not being available 24/7 if you are at work or starting your own business, but not so much about what if you are a homemaker and trying to study, adopt a child, keep a house, keep a garden, make sure you are eating right, keeping three animals alive and well, making sure that Christmas is organised and is not a last minute rush, and somehow keeping three parents all happy and functioning –  all at the same time.  And that is a slow week.

I really do not have any answers at the moment.  If I get any, then I will let you know.  But right now?  I am off to whimper in the corner.  I seem to have tried all the tricks in my arsenal and I am coming up empty right now.

Normal blogging service will resume tomorrow, but a bit later than normal (hopefully earlier than tonight!) as I am out in the morning with two of the three parents.

A rant about tipping the scales…

For the long time readers of this blog, you will know that I struggle with my weight.  I have always struggled with my weight and I suspect it is something I will ALWAYS have to have an eye on, for the rest of my days.  However, in the last 3 weeks, I have decided that I am back on the dietary wagon, and I am bound and determined to get the excess weight off this time.  I have given myself targets, I have decided on the treats I am going to give myself when I reach those targets, I have even given myself time scales in which to do it (though I am going to be flexible on those!).

There is nothing that irritates me more though, then people telling me that “losing weight is simple.  Just eat less and move more.”  What a pile of horse hocky.  If it were that simple, don’t you think that we all would be stick thin and no one would be overweight at all?  For some people, maybe it is that easy, but for others?  No, it is more complicated than that.

And who decides who is overweight anyway?  Well, in most western countries, the medical profession relies on an Index called the Body Mass Index.  It is a conjunction of your weight and your height.  Depending on where you come on the matrix you are classified as being overweight, clinically obese or morbidly obese.  What they fail to tell you though, is how that Index was dreamed up.  You might think it was the greatest medical minds of their generation putting their heads together and coming up with something that truly reflects the health of the citizenry and that it is a number and a score with a lot of research behind it.  Ummm… no actually.

The BMI was dreamt up by some doctor who had been given the job of proving that the Soliders in WW1 trenches were being given enough food and weren’t poorly nourished.  Patently, they were poorly nourished, and patently it caused all sorts of health problems, but the index was put together as “proof” that Private Joe Bloggs, this tall and this weight, was actually the right weight for his height, even though he really, really wasn’t.

So, the tool which I have been judged against for most of my life is actually a tool of 100 year old war propaganda?  Great.  Just great.

Please do not mistake me.  I am fully aware that I carry too much weight.  This is partly because of appallingly bad choices I have made in the past, and partly due to genetics,and even partly due to a desire to squash feelings down by using poor food choices (and no, that really doesn’t work and is not a very positive way of doing things.)  But I am done with feeling guilty about this.  I know what needs to be changed, and I am doing something about it.

Recently, I rejoined a slimming class.  In two weeks I have dropped 8 pounds, and altogether, I have lost 12 since I started on my health kick, way back in May.  I feel a lot better for it, and I know what to do in order to eat healthy meals, feel full and happy and have the energy to do what I need to do.  And that is what I am going to do.

So, if you feel like you want to be healthier, or carry less weight, then the best thing to do?  Go and see a Nutritionist.  Take their advice and do what you know is healthy in order to get to your healthy weight.  And do not let some stupid position on an outdated and scientifically dubious index tell you whether you are healthy and happy.  Let your own body do the talking.

“To sleep: perchance to dream”

That quote comes from Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet.  The Danish Prince thought that sleeping sounded a great idea.  It was the dreaming that caused problems.  Mind you, the guy was under some stress at the time, and that probably contributed to his nightmares.

hamlet

You may be relieved to know, that having nightmares is very normal.  Everyone gets them once in a while, but if they happen often and you wake up in a sweat, or worse, screaming, then it may be a reflection of something a bit worse at work.  Nightmares can be symptomatic of a psychiatric illness or distress of some kind and are often experienced by people who have sufffered some trauma, such as abuse, war or a natural disaster of some kind.  In Hamlet’s case, seeing your Dad assassinated probably fits into two out of those three categories.

Apparently nightmares are most common in children.  Specialists think it is because they find it difficult to process things cognitively, so if they have a sudden shock or see something they can’t make sense of, then nightmares can be the way that they process the information.  Nightmares, and other dreams, happen during periods of rapid eye movement sleep, so the scariness of the dream can jolt you awake and make you feel very disoriented.

nightmares

So how can you help prevent nightmares for the young or old?  Facing the cause of the nightmare is a good way of doing it.  If it is difficult to work out what is causing the nightmare, then try and work out what situations in your life are causing some stress and try and work out those situations in a positive way.

Another good piece of advice is to remove the scares.  If you do not like zombie movies and have nightmares after watching them, then… ummm… don’t watch them.  If you are like me, i.e. a complete wuss, then your range of pre-bedtime viewing is quite limited.   But I don’t like having nightmares either, so I would rather limit the viewing then freak out and leave my imagination to work it all out.

Apparently having a bedtime ritual is a good idea for limiting nightmares.  Do the same things every night at the same time.  If your child seems to have a nightmare at the same time every night, then waking them up slightly before the nightmare and then settling them down to sleep again is a great way of breaking the dreaming pattern and hopefully stop the regular problem.

bedtime snack

If you are an adult and get regular nightmares, look at your food and drink intake just before bed.  Do not drink alcohol at night, and do not eat before bed either.  It is not good for your dreams, and it isn’t good for the diet either.

There appears to be a dwarven mining team in my temple…

Ah yes… the delights of a migraine headache.  They are horrible.  I had one this week.  Hateful things.

migraines

Migraines are not just a bad headache.  They tend to be accompanied by nausea, blurry vision, runny noses, ringing in the ears.  Migraine sufferers also get auras – these can be dots on their vision, flashing lights, or a bit of both.  Some auras can even be smells, or a sense in their bodies that the migraine is coming.  It is not a pleasant sensation.

Now, migraines are very severe.  I have some down home and folksy remedies which might help lessen the pain, but if you suffer really badly from these, for goodness sake, go to the doctor and get help with them.  There are drugs out there which can stop the pain right away and they are totally worth using to escape the horrors of a migraine.  However, some of these tricks might help…

cold flannel

If you have a migraine, go and lie down in a darkened room with a cool wet flannel on your forehead.  I know this is what your Mum always recommended but it does help.  Migraines are caused by vasodilation of the arteries in your head, so the coolness of the flannel might help reduce that expansion, and many migraine sufferers are sensitive to light.  Rubbing your temples might help as well.  Apparently putting pressure on the temples decreases the flow of blood through the arteries and can bring some relief.

Do you know what triggers your migraines?  Personally, I know I am heading for trouble if I have imbibed red wine, chocolate and cheese in some combination, though I also get hormonal migraines.  Oh that is great fun let me tell you.  NOT.  However, if you do not know what your triggers are, have a look at the day and the hours before you are struck with the headache.  If there is something that comes up regularly with your migraines, it might be a trigger for you.  Some common ones are nitrates (often found in wine), too much coffee, chocolate, red wine, birth control pills, monosodium glutamate, ovulation, menstruation, dehydration, irregular sleep, too much sleep, psychological stress and sudden withdrawal from coffee.  Basically, if you have triggers… stay away from them.  You know it makes sense.

feverfew

There is a herbal remedy though… Feverfew has been used for thousands of years as a herbal remedy, but it is only since the 1970s that herbalists have been suggesting it will work wonders for migraines.  You need to take it daily, but eating one leaf, or taking a herbal supplement from the health food shop will work wonders, apparently.  Fever few is one of the herbs I am planning to grow in my garden, so I will report back if it makes any difference!