Choices. Just; choices!

I came across this meme on Facebook earlier and thought it was very apt. At the time, I had just been having a conversation about my recent changes in attitude. The fact that I’m striving to improve myself, be healthier, look after myself more. And that all this work I’m doing is “for” me; nobody else is asking these things of me; they are things that I am hoping will improve my overall health and general wellbeing. And I have realised, nobody can do it “with” or “for” me. People can encourage me, support me and give me feedback but ultimately it is only me who can do it. Because I am the one who is making these choices, with choices being the operative word.

Everything we do, we choose to do. We “choose” to eat to survive or to enjoy the taste etc. We choose to go out, stay in, drink alcohol, smoke; basically everything. I know some people may argue this, some people have said they don’t “choose” to work and they “have” to work to earn money to survive. That’s a fair point, however you’re still choosing from those 2 potentials; do you choose to work to survive, or do you choose not to work and risk the consequences of that whatever they may be. You choose the lesser of the evils, but that doesn’t mean the lesser evil will be a great alternative.

In moments of desperation, when my world had crashed down around me and almost buried me alive, I ‘chose’ to hurt myself. The only options or choices I could see at that very moment were: I hurt myself right now to relieve the feelings or I kill myself to permanently stop the feelings. I could never see other options in those situations, where I can now (for example, an alternative option could have been I could have tried to tolerate those feelings a little longer, reminding myself that they were thoughts and feelings and they could not hurt me). So I’ve realised (just now by writing this very random post), that problem solving is quite important, in order to try to see the other choices you have. Opening up your mind, slowing down your thoughts, reassuring yourself. Maybe then try to take a step back from it for a few seconds and consider your options. That 10 or 20 seconds when you take a step back and assess the situation properly, could potentially distract you enough to really reduce your urges or feelings. That is not easy, but try just by reminding yourself every day to use that 10 or more second step back from things so you can gather yourself.

Well now you have a choice to make. Try the above or don’t try the above. Further choices along the way, if you do try, do you give up after 1 failed attempt or do you keep practising until it gets easier? If you ignore the above, is there anything else you can try that might help? Or would you choose not to end the cycle at all?

All choices that come with their own consequences; positive & negative. Which is the lesser alternative? Is that a lesser alternative for the short-term? Or is it the lesser alternative for the long-term? Sometimes we have to choose harder options in order to improve things for the long-term. That means pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones, making choices we might not usually make and trying things that might fear us to death.

Choices choices choices ūüôā

DEARMAN GIVE FAST: How to be assertive without being aggressive

One big lesson I’ve learned over the last 12 months is the importance of considering others’ perspectives. The thing I’ve heard a lot during the SCM group I’m due to finish this week, is the “third eye” perspective. For example, if you and somebody else are having a disagreement and you feel like you want to lash out, give yourself 10 seconds to take a step back and imagine you are a 3rd person in the room who is looking in on the situation. The third eye perspective gives us the opportunity to see all views/angles; by taking a step back and seeing things from an outside perspective you can then be more considerate of others’ feelings.

I always ask myself one important question, especially when I’m feeling angry and want to scream and shout at somebody. I ask myself “how would I feel if somebody said/did that to me?”.¬†There are ways of saying things, and sometimes it’s how you say it that matters. You have to consider you body language, tone of voice, eye contact, choice of words and consider whether you’re being fair or are your expectations too high?

The way we remember (in group) how to interact in a more effective way is using the acronym ‘DEARMAN GIVE FAST’. To assert yourself, ask a favour etc, you would use DEARMAN. Which stands for: Describe (describe the facts of the situation), Express (how you feel – “I feel”, without saying “you make me feel” – nobody can make you feel anything, it’s about how you react to other people), Assert (clearly state what you would like to happen), Reinforce (positive reinforcement works well when asserting yourself; showing appreciation etc), Mindful (always be mindful of how you are coming across and of how the other person is feeling), Appear confident (this is difficult but important when asserting yourself), Negotiate (be prepared to negotiate and come up with a plan together).

GIVE¬†is all about how you want the other person to feel after your interaction. You would use GIVE¬†if you want to say something (for example) to somebody but you don’t want to destroy or damage your relationship with this person. GIVE¬†makes you consider how you are coming across to the other person, and stands for: Gentle (gentle manner, regardless of how you feel. Treat people with respect), (appear) Interested (show interest in what the other person has to say; their perspective is just as important as yours. Show interest by using eye contact, nodding etc), Validate (validate others thoughts/feelings/opinions. Check you have understood what they are saying by repeating back what they have said and asking if this is correct, for example), Easy manner (relates to body language, posture, eye contact, smiling etc).

FAST is all about your own self-respect. If you want to maintain your self-respect during and after an interaction, follow FAST. Fair (always consider others’ views and try to reach a mutual conclusion), (no) Apologies (you do not need to apologise for disagreeing with somebody), Stick to your values (know what your values are and stick to them instead of giving in to please other people), Truthful (communicate¬†honestly with the other person and be genuine).

After practicing these skills my assertiveness is at an all time high, even though it’s nowhere near where I’d like it to be yet. It helps me to prepare for situations that I know of in advance (for example, if I’m planning on speaking to somebody about how I felt when they said something to me). It’s good for everyday use with whoever you come across throughout your days.

It is possible to know your own mind, be confident enough to express your own mind, and do it in a way that doesn’t damage and/or completely destroy relationships. Well I never thought I’d say that.