[Image from pixabay.com]
Alarm clock screaming, eating breakfast in the car, sitting in traffic, work deadlines, family life… Beyoncé dropping a tour out of the clear blue and trying to get your ticket money together before the Hive descends on us all… LAWD! The demands we face on a daily basis are enough to erode even the best of us. The key to staying sane and balanced when the whole world is pulling you in different directions is proper self care.
One way to practice self-care is by using assertive communication to express your feelings, needs, and wants. Being assertive means you firmly state your stance while being courteous and acknowledging the other person’s point of view. It means you monitor your tone of voice, word choice, and body language, but still get your point across. The goal is to be neither aggressive nor passive, but rather to rest right in the middle of the two, with the goal of getting your needs met. Always remember how the saying goes: you are a pink starburst! Never let someone treat you like an orange one! More importantly, don’t treat yourself like an orange one. It’s not realistic to expect others to treat you well when you don’t take care of yourself.
So how do we practice self-care using assertive communication?
1. Say “no”
Sometimes the best form of self care is by setting some healthy boundaries with others. Don’t be afraid to decline a few invitations if it means you will have some quiet time to decompress and re-energize. Here’s a secret… Lean in: even if you aren’t doing anything, it doesn’t mean that you are obligated to do someone else a favor. You are not wrong for choosing to spend your free time however you desire.
2. Say “yes”
On the other hand, there are times where you need to be open to new experiences. Try new food. Go to a different type of dance club, maybe salsa or swing dancing. Agree to go out with friends instead of finding reasons to get out of it. Buy a trendy outfit and break your pattern of playing it safe with your wardrobe. Say yes a little more and watch how things blossom for you. It’s very healthy to treat yourself with pleasant things and exciting events every so often.
3. Learn to both accept and pay a complement.
One of the biggest reflections of your self esteem is how you handle compliments. When someone walks up to you and says “you look great today” or “you have a lovely home” and your first reaction is to start highlighting how old your sweater is or the flaws in your couch, it becomes glaringly obvious that you don’t feel good about yourself. Practice accepting compliments graciously by offering nothing more than a “Thank you very much”… No further explanation about anything. No highlighting all the imperfections that the person did not catch. Just a good old fashioned “thank you”.
In the same vein, your ability to pay a compliment directly to someone is also a reflection of your self esteem. If every time you see someone with cute shoes, a nice suit, a nice car, you offer up your gas face rather than telling them what you think, it’s obvious, you don’t have the best self esteem. People with high self esteem know that paying a compliment does not take away from what they have to offer. They find joy in pointing out when someone else is doing well. Often times people with low self esteem have an immediate negative reaction when they see someone doing better, having more than them, or doing things that they are afraid of. So rather than point it out, they clam up. Never forget, you are a pink starburst and you have to believe it for yourself! Even if you aren’t exactly where you want to be in life, you still need to treat yourself well. So start telling people when you think they are awesome and start saying “Thank you”.
Overall, we want to use our best communication skills in order to practice proper self care. Sometimes this means saying no, sometimes this means saying yes, and sometimes this means getting comfortable accepting and receiving compliments. It’s just a start, but with these skills, you start to see healthy changes happen for you. But hey, I could be wrong. I’ve always been a bit of an Odd Bird.
Glenna Anderson, LCSW