Friday, August 30, 2019

Assertiveness Skills

Assertiveness does not come overnight; it is a technique that you can practice yourself. Some people seem to have that ability/ skills at the core of their personality type which they imbibe through their environment/family, while some people strive to achieve assertive skills.
While most people say assertiveness is difficult to adapt for people with aggressive personalities, however, I think assertiveness is much adaptive to people who are aggressive in nature, if they are trained on how to be assertive. People with submissive and passive personality type have difficulty adapting to assertiveness, as it takes time for them to voice their opinion. 
People who are non- assertive types and who want to be assertive are mostly the victims of aggressive personalities and want to know how to avoid pressure from aggressive personality types, or how to stand for self.

What is Assertiveness?
Assertiveness is the quality of being self-assured and confident without being aggressive.
Assertiveness can also be known as empowerment. Assertive behavior comes from within, when you are self-aware and you know how to handle your emotions and respect yourself, you also get the ability to empathize with others, respect others. You acknowledge that just like you have rights, other people have rights too.
Assertiveness is making our needs and feelings known directly and respectfully, while also respecting the needs and feelings of others. It is based on mutual respect.
When confronted with an intolerable situation, assertive people describe it objectively; express their emotional feelings appropriately, empathize with others, and also offer problem solving alternatives.

Let’s look at other personality types:
Aggressive personality: 
Characteristics of Aggressive personality:
•        Bossy, dominating, authoritarian, intimidating, and loud.
•        Scheming, playing politics, ulterior motive in communication, reacting emotionally.
•        Lacks knowledge in giving feedback, instead criticize and make taunting and hurting remarks.
•        Always wants to be an authority and wants to be a winner, this makes them jealous of other peoples success and thus have poor sportsmanship. 

Submissive Personality:
Characteristics of Submissive Personality:
•        Lack of confidence in self.
•        Always scared to express feelings and opinions with a belief that they might hurt others if they do so.
•        Follow their leaders blindly.
•        Are usually people pleasers.
•        They almost always are favorites of aggressive people and become victim to injustice.

Assertive Personality:

Characteristics of Assertive people:
•        Assertive people believe in “I am OK, you are OK”.
•        Assertive people are self-aware and know how to empathize with other people.
•        Are considerate of others.
•        More rational than emotional.
•        Respect self and other people’s opinions and feelings.
•        Knows how to manage a situation and look for win –win solution.

Commonly when emotions are triggered people adopt one of three attitudes relating to blame, which each correlate to a position on the Okay Corral:

I'm to blame (You are okay and I'm not okay - 'helpless')

You are to blame (I'm okay and you are not okay - 'angry')

We are both to blame (I'm not okay and you are not okay - 'hopeless')

None of these is a healthy position.

Instead the healthy position is, and the mindset should be: "It's no-one's fault, blame isn't the issue - what matters is how we go forward and sort things out." (I'm okay and you are okay - 'happy')

Assertive communication style, a person expresses his feelings, opinions and needs in honest, direct yet firm way without violating the other person.

In situation of a missed deadline, assertive people might come up with their factual/logical reasons and voice it.

Non- assertive communication describes behavior where the sender does not stand up for personal rights and indicates that his or her feelings are unimportant, the person might be hesitant, fearful and careless.

In situation of a missed deadline, an aggressive response might be, “You always miss deadlines, if you miss another deadlines disciplinary action will be taken”. Such response has long term consequences, resulting in distrust between individuals involved and it will also negatively affect productivity.

Saying ‘No’ assertively:
When you communicate assertively, even saying ‘no’ when you cannot help others may not make you feel guilty or shameful. Saying no to other people assertively means empathizing with them first, and then putting your points with a logical reasoning. You are respecting other person’s needs and wants and also respecting your needs and wants. Understand that you cannot please everyone.

We all at some point in our life, fall into situations either in personal life or Professional life, where we say ‘yes’ to others while we really want to say ‘no’.

Your boss may ask you favor to complete a task for him/her; your relatives who invites themselves to stay at your place for longer, your friend wants you to help her with her assignments. You may think you are being ‘nice’ by doing these favors to their requests, but in reality they are exploiting you.

How to say ‘no’

- Just like they have the right to request you, you have the right to say, ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to their requests and if it’s a demand, still you are not obligated to do favors to people who are at demand level. 

- Be a good listener, listen to their problem and empathize. 
- Always give logical reasoning to why you are saying ‘no’. 
- Do not attach any emotional tags, the moment you do so, they might trap you emotionally and they will make you feel that their problem is your problem as well and then make the situation more difficult. 
-Give a reason to them why you will not be able to help, also give them alternative solution to their problems.

Once you say no what next?

Well, once you say no in an assertive way, the ball is the other person’s court. How the other person reacts/overreacts is their problem. This should not affect you or your assertiveness. Understand that most people cannot take ‘no’ from others positively. They either react emotionally or try to label you as not helpful person.

Being assertive is the core to effective communication.

 Develop your assertiveness skills by using simple techniques:

•        Be collaborative

•        Be a good listener
•        Communicate clearly
•        Win-win situation
•        ‘I’ statements – I statements can be used to voice one’s feelings and wishes from a personal position without expressing a judgment about the other person or blaming anyone. E.g. statements like; I feel…, I understand…., I feel upset when…..
•        Saying ‘no’.
Being assertive will help us gain self-confidence and self-esteem.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Empathy and Compassion

Do you usually show sympathy, empathy or compassion? Empathy is an integral part of emotional intelligence (EQ). Even animals have empathy.
Empathy is defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Many people are confident enough that they use empathy. However, most of us get lost with our own perception and judgement.
For example, if your spouse comes home saying he has lost a project that he was working very hard all these months. Would you understand his/her feelings? Would you say, come on! its ok. You will find another one, don’t worry. Does that sound like empathy? Again, at this point how do you really know that he/she needs you? How do you figure out, whether to sit and talk or just give them time and space to think through the situation? well some likes privacy when they are emotional. Also when the other person is emotionally vulnerable, do not be in a hurry to give your opnions just give a good listening to their say. If you listen to them, you would know how they are feeling at that moment. Listening is also showing empathy.
There are people who do not understand any of this. They do not have empathy. They do not relate to people and their emotions.
Because people with low emotional intelligence do not understand the emotions of others, they experience little empathy for other people. They do not get what others are feeling, so it is impossible for them to place themselves in another person's shoes.

According to Daniel Goleman, there are three types of Empathy; Emotional Empathy, Cognitive empathy, and Compassion empathy.
1. Emotional Empathy:
Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference, that is, the capacity to place oneself in another's position. Emotional empathy is the capacity not only to understand other person but also feel the persons pain.
However, in Emotional Empathy, you give a mirror reaction, if the person affected is crying, you might cry too. According to psychologists, Daniel Goleman in his book ‘Social Intelligence’, due to the mirror neuron system. However, in doing so, you miss out on what the other person needs in that situation.  For example, the person in grief, may be weeping and may not expect you to cry, but you cry as you can feel the emotions of the other person. Sometimes you go through emotional distress yourself. And when you are in distress yourself, you will not be able to help a person in such a situation. You might take emotional decisions yourself, sometimes, hasty decisions too (taking on too much responsibility which you might not be able to fulfill later) which is again a distressful for both the person at the receiving end and the person who is giver.

2. Cognitive Empathy:
Cognitive Empathy is more on an intellectual level than on an emotional level. Cognitive empathy is understanding and thinking. Well, some might even call them cold and detached however, such people can understand the situation and handle it tactfully by understanding the person in pain and the situation.
You might console a person by saying you have been to similar situation and that you understand what they are going through. According to Daniel Goleman, it is termed as perspective-taking. As you are applying your own perspective to what someone else is going through. This type of empathy can be positive as well as negative. For example, a pregnant women who has been through critical complications during her pregnancy in the past, may not be able to emotionally connect to the person in need who is complaining about the minor labor pain and has very less complications in pregnancy. The women with very critical complications might end up saying, I understand your situation, this is nothing what you are going through, you should hear what I have been through during my pregnancy. Anyways, I can help you with the dishes today. Well that definitely does not sound like empathy.
3. Compassion Empathy: 
Compassion is not the same as empathy, though the concepts are related. While empathy is our ability to take the perspective of and feel the emotions of another person, compassion is when those feelings and thoughts include the desire to help.
We all grow to learn to be compassionate. Compassion is beyond empathy; it not only understands and feels other people’s feelings; it also has the ability to take action to help in whichever possible way.
Compassionate empathy is initiating action to help. You might help a friend suffering from cancer to provide a meal to her kids, you could offer to help do some chores around the house, pick up the children, or watch them for a while.
Compassion also comes without any returns. Many people are reluctant to help as they do not get acknowledged and do not get any recognition of it. Compassion is all about helping people without expecting any gratitude or return. Well, that’s how it works, in Hinduism, they say you do good deed/karma and you will get blessing and peace. It is true, when you do good to people, you do get blessings.
These are just different ways you can show compassion not only in critical situation but also in day to day interaction with people you deal with. Even with strangers. Do not miss any opportunity to be kind and empathetic to another person. 

Buddhist Conceptions of Compassion

Compassion is a wish-fulfilling jewel that can alleviate all suffering. In Tibetan Buddhism, compassion is the key and central training within their religion. Enlightened Compassion is personified by the deity, Chenrezig, who holds a jewel that grants all wishes to those who possess it. That jewel is compassion. Mahayana Buddhists believe love and compassion can overcome all obstacles, awaken the mind to enlightenment and bring enormous benefit to yourself and others. (The power of Compassion).

How to use empathy and compassion in our day to day life:
Everyone of us experience crisis in our lives, either our own life or someone close to us. It is somewhat difficult to show empathy to someone in very critical situation. However, it is far easier to start with day to day empathy to other people. As the saying goes, small things make big difference. As the saying goes, "The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones". Lets start showing empathy on a day to day basis.

1. Self-Compassion:
The best way to practice compassion is Self-Compassion. Respect and listen to your-self. The best way for being compassionate with self is meditation. Meditation brings closer to your-self, it dissolves your ego, it shows you a path to your higher self.
Once you know how to forgive yourself for your mistakes, you will be able to forgive others and be empathetic with them with open heart.

2. Express Gratitude:
When handling emotions of your loved ones, you can begin by giving them positive strokes, by appreciating them for their contribution towards you and your family. Appreciating them on how they handled difficult situations in the past and that you are thankful for their contributions.

3. Be Kind:
Be kind with people around you. It spreads positive vibes, creates a positive aura. Kindness is very powerful. However, do not expect anything in return, just be good to everyone around you. With the current technology world where people maintain relations through apps., break that trend and be kind and polite when interacting face to face. 

4. Show your Support:
When in crucial situations, when a person is held responsible for something which he/she is not done. We need to support this person; think about it we can also be in difficult situation. When you know that the person is right, then its easier for you to put yourself in their position. You can speak up for the person and defend for the rights of that person by showing your support.

5. Show Appreciation:
Compassion is not just about showing compassion in crucial situations. We can show compassion in someone’s achievement. Celebrating with coworker for his/her achievements, appreciating their efforts and leaving a small note of appreciation, encourages them, shows positive feelings, shows that you care for others achievements too.

6. Donate to the needy:
Donating funds for the victims of natural calamity or someone who is sick and helpless also goes a long way. Even the small contributions leads to bigger amounts with the overall donations. Donations are another way of showing compassion towards people who are in urgent need. 

The practice of compassion increases our capacity to care. It reinforces charity, empathy and sympathy. Compassion is very good for your heart. Sometimes, there may be hurdles on your way in the form of racism, sexism, classism, and any other hurdles, these all are on the basis of other peoples opinions and judgement. Do not let other people's opinion affect you. Be compassionate. 

Compassion is very contagious, once you show compassion for others, others will also show compassion to you, you will feel happy and content. It is a happy feeling. The Dalai Lama famously said in the book The Art of Happiness, “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Healing The Hurt

Emotional hurt is very personal. One cannot see the pain and agony as the hurt is not visible to anyone. Many of us fight some form of emotional hurt in our lives. Someone hurting you emotionally, leaves a big hole in the heart, it has a lingering effect on our mind. Everyone reacts to hurt differently. Though some people are quick to move on with their lives. Some take long time to let go. Some of us get stuck in the process of fighting that infectious hurt and take a lot of time in the healing process. At times we even blame ourselves. 

From my personal experience, it took me a lot of time to forgive people who hurt me in my life. Now they do not have any space in my heart. By remembering the hurt and pain and those involved, you are giving them time and space in your life. You are giving them those precious time of your life and making those events or people important.  I chose to forgive them, not because they are good or they have changed, but because I want to change for my own good and for my own family. By forgiving them you are releasing your pain. It narrows the path towards self-healing and self-awareness. It is not an easy process; it takes a lot of time and energy. It requires you to transform your ego, your-self. Along the process of healing do not forget the hurt, let the hurt be your teacher. So you do not let anyone hurt you in the future again, be prudent. Do not look at it as a hurt, but look at it as a great lesson learned in life and move on. 

How To Heal The Emotional Hurt:

Your Emotional state:

When in hurt, our emotions throw us into a victim zone. Though we do not intend to do so, none of us want to be a victim. However, we tend to brood on our hurt time and again and thus this makes us victim. We keep talking about the hurt, about our past again and again, its like reopening the hurt and look at its deep inside, though you do not know how to heal the decay. Whenever you talk about it you get angry. You cannot ignore talking about it nor can you pay attention for a long time, because it might hurt you again, in doing so it might infect your present state of mind.
You have to keep healing the pain until you realize that the hurt is no more ruining your life. The hurt is there but it does not hurt you anymore that badly. When that happens, you achieve enlightenment. It narrows down your path towards healing. 

Everyone else but me:
Believing that, everything would be better, if the world or other people would change. We also become victims to the outside forces (our stars)/our destiny. We even start blaming God. Know that we all get hurt at some point of time in our lives, some get healed faster. Whereas some take lot of time to understand their own emotions.  This is the time to look inside you. This is a great time to transform yourself into a far better person that you are. You fall, you learn and you move on.  

Don’t let your hurt dominate your mind:
Know that your hurt dominates your emotions. It will lead your emotions and take you to any direction it wants. It might take you to “I am a victim"direction, or it might take you to “be vengeful” direction. Most of the time, we are comfortable in these two zones, victim or revenge zone. Remember, no one cares if you are a victim, people will show you sympathy, or empathy for few days and then you are on your own. You have to take charge of your life, of your-self. Give your hurt a clean spiritual direction. It needs you to cleanse and reform your heart. Learn and move on. Heal your hurt with your own positive emotions. Transform that hurtful heart to a stronger wiser heart. 

Do not forgive instantly:
 Most people will advice you to forgive and forget. Well, its easier said than done. It is not that easy to forget and forgive. Take your time. You will have past memories like as if they are fresh memories in your brain and you will swing with those memories which will make you vulnerable. You do not want to forgive at that point of time. You will only end up saying, “I will never forget what this person has done to me”, or I will never forgive this person”. However, as you sail through this difficult phase, you will eventually learn to focus on good things in your life and forgive the person who hurt you. Time is a great healer, it brings awareness and realization. By forgiving someone who hurt you, you are healing your heart. 

Let go of people who continue to hurt you:
Sometimes your own people hurt you, someone who was close to you, someone in your family who is related to you. This person will still continuously try to hurt you or taunt you through social media or whenever you happen to meet them. Well, you forgive them anyways. Remember, they are not going to change, do not try to change them. It is not about you, its about them, they would continue with that negative emotion, they chose to be like that. Just ignore them and move on. When they realize that their behavior/attitude no more affects you, they would stop. Do not forget what they have done, it’s a lesson learned. However, forgive them for what they have done, this will release you from the pain. Let it go!

Show Compassion: 
Self-compassion makes you realize your self-worth. When in hurt, you start hating yourself, you lose confidence in being in a relationship. Give yourself a chance. You can practice self-compassion by being forgiving, being mindful, showing gratitude towards others, and above all being aware of your-self.
Show compassion for others. Try to do some social work, channelize your good heart (wounded heart) towards social causes. This will make you realize there are so many underprivileged people who are in more unfortunate position than you are. This is like a therapy; you feel good when you help someone in need. Believe in good Karma. It will always pay you back.  

Our life is like driving experience, while we are driving our car, we know how to and when to use accelerator and brake and since we know these two functions so well, we are able to enjoy driving our car and know how to reach our destination. Similarly, assume your life as a car and if you know your ‘self’ very well, and know when to use your accelerator (your Present) and brake (brake to your past disturbing events-your hurt), you will be able to enjoy your life’s journey. If you do not put a stop/brake to your past disturbing events, there are chances of accidents and not only that you are going to risk your life and the life of people who are inside your car, but also people who are outside. So, let’s make wiser choices and use brakes. Heal your heart. Reform your core. Revive your life.