Assertiveness is key in forming healthy relationships, and in reducing stress in your life. It is both about gaining self-respect, and realizing that the people around you hold respect for you.
Yoga is phenomenal at providing us with the confidence we need to calmly stand up for ourselves without upsetting those around us.
Use your yoga community to help you utilize these tips towards being more assertive in your life.
1. Choose a Safe Zone
Your yoga studio is often a safe zone, so start trying to be assertive there before you try it in the outside world.
2. Start Small
Build your confidence by taking your time.
Start small, perhaps asking someone to move their mat so you can squeeze into class. Slowly work up to more challenging situations, like requesting a postural work up or alignment assessment from your teacher. Eventually you will be able to take this confidence out of the studio doors and into your daily life.
3. Learn to Hear “No”
Remember part of being assertive is not falling apart when someone says “No” to you. In fact, the word “no” doesn’t have to be a negative thing.
Perhaps you requested a fellow yogi move their mat slightly to the left so you can squeeze in, and they said “No.” Maybe they know they tend to fall off their mat and are protecting you. Be confident that they have their reasons and it is likely not personal at all.
4. Learn to Say “No”
This whole “No” thing goes both ways. Being assertive is about lessening the anger, guilt, and frustration in your life by communicating smoothly. This can be very challenging if there are people in your life that cannot hear the word “No,” but persevere, it will be better for you (and them) in the long run.
Saying “No” is a vital step in gaining the confidence you need to have healthy relationships with others, but also with yourself. Sometimes saying “No” is an act of self-preservation.
“No, I don’t want to go out tonight, I’m tired and I want to practice early in the morning.” No cause for guilt, you are taking care of yourself.
5. Self Care
Make yourself a priority. A self-care regime builds self-respect, and will ultimately boost your confidence.
Each week do something that is just for you. Plan to take time out of your day to do it and don’t let anyone else stop you from doing it. Build on your meditation practice, read a book, add a chapter to the novel you are writing, take an inversion workshop -- feed your soul with something completely about you.
6. Set Boundaries
You don’t need to please everyone all the time. You do need to advocate for what you need. A good way to begin speaking up is to set clear boundaries.
Choose something simple like, “No phone calls after 8pm.” Don’t let others break these small boundaries down, so that when it comes to the bigger stuff like, “No, I wont lend you money,” you are more confident standing your ground, and that person doesn’t question you -- as much.
People who respect you will love that you are taking care of yourself in this way.
7. Accept One of Yoga’s Biggest Lessons
You cannot control others; you can only control your own reaction to others.
Assertiveness is the product of controlling your reaction to the small things. It’s the ability to see through a frustrating situation, and speak up about what you need, without attacking the other person (with silence or yelling). You are far more likely to get what you need, and not have to keep revisiting the problem, if you vocalize your needs in a clear and calm way.
Ask the other person to help you come up with a mutual solution that benefits both parties. Forget trying to control them or their decision, be soft and supple, be flexible and strong; just like your yoga practice.
You will find your life becomes much less stressful and much more productive with happier relationships if you can do any of the above -- so give it a whirl!
Do you have any tips on how to practice assertiveness? Share them with us below!