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THE ASSERTIVENESS GUIDE FOR WOMEN: How To Communicate your Needs, Set Healthy Boundaries & Transform your Relationships

Live Life Happy Unconventional Book Club Andrea Seydel


Do you have trouble speaking for yourself and communicating your needs to others? Or Do you find it difficult to set healthy boundaries, only to lash out in resentment when you feel like you're not being heard or respected?

Julie De Azevedo Hanks PH.D, seasoned psychotherapist teaches us essential steps to help us communicate our needs, balance our emotions, improve relationships, and set boundaries to improve our lives.

Decades of research in psychology conclude- As human beings, we have an ingrained desire to make meaningful connection with each other. Our survival is dependant on healthy, nurturing , and secure relationships. And communication is the major factor to this connection.

What is Assertiveness?

Assertiveness is generally defined as a way of communicating that is clear, confident, and self-assured.

When you are assertive you are able to express thoughts, feelings, needs, and wants without infringing on the rights of others.

Done effectively, you can articulate your unique sense of self while maintaining your connection with others. Assertiveness is about having the courage to express difference.

When you think of the word assertive... What thoughts come to mind?

Experiencing Difficulties? (Attachment theory & Differentiation)

Early experiences provide templates for future relationships. Understanding our Attachment style is crucial to developing assertiveness. Psychologist Bowlby and Robertson introduced the attachment theory that suggests that humans have an innate physiological need to form emotional bonds with caregivers and that having a strong bond is crucial to healthy development.

Four components of attachment: Proximity (be close), Secure base (feel safe to explore the world), Safe haven (feel scared or threatened), Separation Distress (when separated from caregiver). It is early attachment styles that form our relationship templates.

Building on Bowlby's work, Mary Ainsworth identified patterns of interaction and created three general attachment categories: Secure-Ability to be close with others and trusting others to meet needs. Anxious-Diffficutl to soothe, clingy and overwhelmed. Avoidant- Does not seek contact after distress. THESE relationship styles continue into adulthood. WE TAKE OUR ATTACHMENT STYLES WITH US- workplace, friendships, family etc. For example: A child neglected of affection, builds a shell around them and avoids distress and suppresses personal needs. You can see how it affects future relationships. Where as a child that felt secure, and received closeness, will need that same security in adult relationships.

Looking at your own upbringing and attachment style allows for refection and is important in order to get our emotional needs met. Attachment styles are not good or bad, just value information that we can learn and grow from.

DIFFERENTIATION: Our ability to navigate the tension between our desire for individuality and out desire for connection through relationships.

Self-reflection and relationship patterns:

Explore your early attachment history. What are your earliest childhood memories? What stories are told about you as a young child? How would you describe your relationship with your father? Or Mother? Which five words best describes your mother? or father? Think of a time in your childhood when you were hurt or sick. Who did you go to for comfort? REFLECT ON YOUR ANSWERS as patterns.

Identify and understand your attachment style: ANXIOUS STYLE- Preoccupies with events from the past AVOIDANT SYTLE- is dismissive of important early relationships SECURE STYLE- Has a balanced, evolving understanding of relationships and emotions.

What we can learn and do: Self-awareness, self-soothing and emotional management strategies.

SELF-AWARENESS: Is about becoming more aware and connected to your emotions and how to use the information they offer to guide your assertive communication.

Emotions are like energy in motion or feelings. Think of emotions as energy that moves you to take action or towards growth. NO GOOD OR BAD EMOTIONS> TIPS: Learn how to name that feeling. Joyful, Frustrated, Defensive, resentful, heartbroken. PRINT FEELINGS WORD LIST Remember thoughts are different than feelings. I feel (emotion) when you (behaviour) because I think (your thought). Emotional intelligence is a successful combination of think about your emotions. SELF AWARNESS OF FEELINGS and THOUGHTS IS A SOURCE OF INFORMATION TO DEVELOP FOR ASSERTIVENESS. Empathy is the bridge between it all.

SELF-SOOTHING & EMOTIONAL MANAGEMENT: Tapping into emotions and managing emotions (particularly difficult ones) allows us to control them instead of them controlling us. STRATEGIES FOR SELF-SOOTHING: Mindfulness- 1. Two minute breathing. 2. Finding your wise mind between emotional mind and rational mind= wise mind. Think back to an emotional occurrence. What did each part of your mind say? 3. Cultivating self-compassion. Pay attention to your self-talk. Validate suffering instead of minimize. Talk to yourself like an upset child. 4. Develop shame resilience. Feeling of not being good enough or worthy of love. Practice awareness of shame. Reach out for support and talk about feelings with supportive person. 5. Separate meaning from fact. Careful with conclusions you draw. Byron Katie's work... IS this thought true? Can I absolutely know that it is true? How do I act when I believe this thought? Who would I be without the thought> Thoughts could be helping or hurting you!!

Self-expression skills & stance of communication- the Doormat, the Sword, and Lantern.

Communication is assertiveness in action!! How we use our words, body language, tone, and other nonverbal cuts to share your emotions, needs, and desires to others?

The Doormat- Communication stance is often "run over" either by others or by own emotions. Payoff is the ability to blame others for negative things in life. People pleasers and caretakers.

The Sword- Stance that feels powerful. Ready to fight. Tense and willing to protect themselves at all cost. Feel self-worth being threatened. You've learned to use your sword to protect yourself in the past. Defensive.

The Lantern- Candle protected on the inside from being blown out. They shed light and illuminate darkness. The Lantern stance represents an assertive approach to communication and is the integration and applicaiotn of all the skills of assertiveness: Self-reflection, self-awareness, self-soothing, self-expression, and self-expansion. LANTERN STANCE IS THE GOAL OF ASSERTIVE COMMUNICATION!!

TIPS TO DEVELOPING LANTERN STANCE OF COMMUNICATION: 1. Soft Start- John Gottmans work shows how we start a conversation determines to a large degree how it will end. Start with gratitude and compliment. 2. Cultivate empathy- feel and express empathy and understanding. 3. Know your go to stance and shift to lantern.

ADDITIONAL TIPS FOR SELF-EXPRESSION: 1. Time difficult conversations right, seek permission and have a soft start. 2. Get your message across by connecting with others. it is how you say things not just words. Verbal and non-verbal communication. 3. Set a strong fence- Boundaries are like the membrane of a cell. Use the fence metaphor, if boundaries are weak, easily can be pushed over. On the other hand if fence too strong and tall, it's like building a wall with no gate. 4. Practice saying NO. 5. PAY ATTENTION TO SIGNS YOU NEED TO ASSERT YOURSELF: Resentment is an emotion that tells you your boundaries have been crossed. Resentment is an angry feeling you feel when you feel you have been treated unfairly.

ASSERTIVENESS IN ACTION: OSCAR: Observe the situation. Sort thoughts & Feelings. Compassionately communicate. Ask questions. Request directly & clearly,

Summary & take aways

This book teaches us the skills that lead to more clarity, calmness, connection, and compassion. All these characteristics that enable us to transform our lives in many ways.

This book taught us the 5 skills of assertiveness: 1. Self-reflection 2. Self-Awareness 3. Self-soothing, 4. Self-expression 5.Self-expansion

Holding the lantern stance is our self-expression as we practice self-reflection to bring clarity, self-awareness to bring confidence, self-soothing to bring calmness, self-expression to bring more connection, and self-expansion to bring compassion.

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