Tag Archive | compassion

How to be better not bitter

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You change for two reasons: either you learn enough that you want to or you’ve been hurt enough that you have to. Unknown

If anyone has shown how to be better not bitter coming out of an extremely traumatic experience it would be Rosie Batty – she has fast become a role model for me. Rosie took her son to cricket training in Mornington, Victoria where he was seeing his father, who they had a restraining order against, in a supervised public place, when the father turned on their 11-year-old and killed him. By the time police arrived, he charged at them with a knife and they shot and killed him. Every part of what played out was all contrived by the father.

Since this tragic ordeal Rosie has mustered up her inner strength to raise awareness of domestic violence situations, and flung open the doors to that horrible situation that revealed how she was so trapped, tortured and controlled for so many years. In the midst of profound grief, Rosie Batty offered help and hope to others and this week Happiness Weekly pays tribute to that and explores how you can be better not bitter after trauma, just like Rosie.

 

1. Keep your mind open

Rosie maintained dignity and compassion with an open mind when confronting the media on a panel recently over changes to Victorian laws that will see the woman punished with jail time for not leaving a domestic violence situation where children may be at risk. In drawing awareness through her own experiences it enabled others to share their opinion – misguided or not. We can learn a lot from this. To become better not bitter, use your situation to learn and grow rather than letting it hold you back in an overwhelming state of hurt, frustration or anger. Find how you can make positive change around you and just take one step forward – you’ll be one step further away from what happened to you.

 

2. Embrace your freedom

It takes a while and it’s difficult, particularly when you’re coming out of a toxic relationship riddled with abuse and control, but eventually you do overcome your fears and embrace your freedom. This takes time. I don’t think you can fully appreciate freedom until you’ve been in a situation where you’re so controlled that all of it is taken away from you. Rosie’s case is a little different because she’s speaking now that her partner is dead – he’s done the ultimate, he can’t hurt her anymore … though I’m sure he continues to haunt her. Rosie is embracing her new found freedom by educating us about her experiences with this man. Be grateful for your freedom and the supportive friends and family still around you – embrace those people and your freedom during your healing journey by overcoming your fears provided by your traumatic experience and doing what you want to do. If you are struggling with this, some inner child work may be beneficial for you – speak to an alternative mental health professional.

 

3. Rely on role models

Spend some time looking for other people who have made positive improvements from negative situations and experiences and use these people as positive examples and role models for where you can go with your situation. There’s lots out there! There are so many fantastic movies to see, particularly on the topic of domestic violence where people have overcome what happened to them and gone on to bigger and better things – if you want to know some titles, leave comment below and I can make some recommendations, or if you have had another traumatic experience contact me and I’ll see if I can find a movie you can identify with that has a positive outcome for the victim. Let these stories motivate you in your healing journey. Remember these people also felt pain and fear and suffered during their recovery from what happened, but they found the strength within to encourage positive changes. Look to these people for guidance on how you can move forward to better yourself.

 

4. Be thankful

Look at the things you have as a result of surviving your traumatic experience. With every negative, there’s a positive – sometimes you just need to search a little harder to find it, or if you’re struggling ask a friend to help you find it. “What good came out of this?” Make a list. It may include your family and friends, your work, the pleasure nature brings you, or simply that you now know and won’t go back. Also, keep track of all the lessons you’ve learned as a result of your situation so you can share them with others. At minimum be thankful that what you have lived, you have enough power and control that you never have to live it again, so long as you heal fully and learn from what has happened to you. This task may sound frustrating if you’re still in a lot of pain, but think of it this way – anything that gives you gratitude proves you’re better – when you can’t find something to be thankful for you’re stuck being bitter. Be better, not bitter!

 

5. Challenge yourself

Challenge yourself to grow from your experience – don’t stop to dwell, keep going. They always say when you’re going through hell, keep going – let this not be any exception. Think of the new possibilities ahead, remain accountable and optimistic, set some new goals and strive for a positive future. Learn as much about the experience and what happened to you as you possibly can. If you can’t make sense of it, get in touch with me and I’ll try to help piece it together with you. Oprah said it really well though – staying in bad circumstances and trying to mitigate the damage in order to endure our situation is like “taking an air-conditioner into hell, rather than leaving hell and beginning to heal”. As hard as things may be for you – continue on your healing journey, challenge yourself to heal fully and completely from your experience and take your lessons as you move forward. Keep this quote in mind: “Losers live in the past. Winners learn from the past and enjoy working in the present towards the future,” Denis Waitley.

 

6. Grow through healing

If you’re recovering from narcissistic abuse or a domestic violence situation you may also be suffering from post-traumatic stress or complex post-traumatic stress from your traumatic event. Instead, I would like to introduce you to a relatively new concept called post-traumatic growth – that’s where you need to shift your focus to be. Some people say what doesn’t kill you tries again (and those who have been in a domestic violence situation will be able to relate to this), but it can also make you stronger, smarter, wiser, braver. Post-traumatic growth describes the positive change occurring in an individual after they’ve experienced a highly stressful life event. This terminology proves that suffering does not have to debilitate a person, in fact, finding a way to endure through significant suffering can actually lead to meaningful development of personal character. More information on Post-Traumatic Growth can be found here.

 

7. Trust your journey

Find positive resources online that will inspire you to grow. I find Trust your journey<http://www.trustyourjourney.com&gt; really helpful. If you’re on Facebook or a social media channel, have a look at some positive forums you can join that will encourage your healing steps to move forward. From these forums or blogs, you may even find a “buddy” – finding others you can identify with will stop you feeling so alone. Look for someone who has experienced something similar to you and you can keep each other strong – where ever you both are in the world. Remain calm through times of trauma and trust your journey. Find ways to educate others with the lessons you have received from your experience. Don’t forget the adage “This too shall pass” as you step forward. Every action has a reaction, every reaction has a consequence – go fourth with confidence and grow to be better, and encourage others to do the same.

 

Someone else I would like to acknowledge in this post is Tom Meagher who I have an overwhelming level of respect for from how he has recovered from his traumatic incident. He recently published this blog, The Danger of the Monster Myth, through White Ribbon (the world’s largest male-led movement to end violence against women), recently spoke with the Late Late Show about the life-changing moment he heard her killer speak in court and he released letters he sent to the parole board as he tries to make Australia a safer place. Tom is another prime example of someone who is becoming better not bitter from his situation as he talks about the message we’re sending in punishing perpetrators and continues to fight to make the Australian justice system actually serve justice – and not just hand down penalties as punishment.

 

With every thought and every action following your traumatic event, always remember before you take a step that your aim is to be better not bitter. Don’t let the situation beat you, challenge yourself to beat the situation. Instead of allowing the event to destroy you, allow yourself to grow.

Be patient – being better takes time.

Happiness Weekly’s best tips for helping others

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You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you. John Bunyan

The efficiencies of the internet are moving us towards a more insular world and it is becoming more difficult to be mindful of helping others. According to the Dalai Lama that is our sole purpose in being here on earth – to share our compassion and help others.

The Pay It Forward movement has been particularly active on Facebook this year. You may have noticed several posts that read:

“To start this year off in a caring way I’m participating in this Pay-It-Forward initiative:

I don’t usually buy into these things, but due to a recent act of generosity I have decided to get involved, this is for real.

The first five people who comment on this status with “I’m in”, will receive a surprise from me at some point in this calendar year – anything from a book, a ticket, a visit, something home grown or made, a postcard, absolutely any surprise!

There will be no warning and it will happen when the mood comes over me and I find something that I believe would suit you and make you happy.

These five people must make the same offer in their Facebook status and distribute their own joy. Simply copy this text onto your profile (don’t share) so we can form a web of connection and kindness.

Let’s do more nice and loving things for each other in 2014, without any reason other than to make each other smile and to show that we think of each other. Here’s to a more enjoyable, more friendly and love-filled year.”

So while our modern world seems to be encouraging selfishness, greed and isolation – Happiness Weekly looks at some ways that you can help others this week without having an agenda of your own. Truly helping others means there’s nothing in it for you – in fact, the person you may help may never be able to repay you and that’s the ultimate aspiration in truly helping others.

 

The benefits of helping others includes:
-          Connecting you to someone in an otherwise very lonely world
–          Enhancing someone else’s life
–          Making the world a better place to live

Things you can do to help others
-          Teach them something new
–          Smile and be friendly
–          Volunteer for a charity
–          Start your own charity
–          Make a donation
–          Share your knowledge
–          Help someone do something – e.g. cross the street, change a flat tyre, get from A to B
–          Donate something you don’t use
–          Comfort someone
–          Buy food for a homeless person
–          Listen to someone
–          Do a chore for someone
–          Send a nice email
–          Share your favourite things (movie, song etc) – if you enjoyed it, someone else may too
–          Give a loved-one a massage
–          Praise someone publicly
–          Be patient with someone
–          Tutor a child
–          Make a care package for someone
–          Speak up for someone – sign a petition, write a letter etc.
–          Offer to babysit
–          Share what you have
–          Find out what’s valuable to someone and get it for them
–          Present an opportunity to someone or make them aware of it
–          Give transparent feedback to better performance (without being too critical)
–          Introduce people to each other, help people network
–          Give someone a gift
–          Do something nice for someone without expecting anything in return
–          Welcome a new neighbour by baking for them
–          Use your power to help people around you have a good day
–          Only see good in people and treat everyone accordingly

We’re all here together and the only certainty is we have one life and we’re living it now. Help others to be the best they can be where ever you can, because if everyone surrounding you is doing the same, imagine the powerful world we would live in.

Pages that helped inspire this blog:
http://www.zenhabits.net/25-ways-to-help-a-fellow-human-being-today
http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnhall/2013/05/26/10-ways-to-help-others-that-will-lead-you-to-success
http://tinybuddha.com/blog/how-to-help-someone-who-wont-help-themselves
https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/get-started/outside-the-classroom/volunteering-how-helping-others-helps-you

All about toxic relationships and how to let go

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Don’t be upset if people prefer another to you, it’s difficult to convince a monkey that strawberries are sweeter than bananas. Anonymous

Are you in a relationship that is making you feel bad about yourself? Are you doubting yourself or finding you’re having paranoid thoughts about your actions and their impact? Do you find yourself acting out in ways that you never have before? Are you constantly distressed and not sure if you’re relationship is coming or going? Are you isolated from your loved ones or has your self-esteem plummeted due to continuing this relationship? I bet you can’t recognise yourself anymore too… DROP IT LIKE IT’S HOT!

We have all encountered toxic people in our life, but for those of us unlucky enough to experience a toxic relationship, you will understand how these feelings and symptoms mentioned above crept subtly into your relationship and started affecting it, and how painful it is to let the person go – particularly because you will generally love them and care for them that little bit extra because they have needed you and dragged you down at the same time.

Sometimes we need to love someone from a distance and unfortunately this means the process of detoxing yourself from them. If your partner is putting you down, crushing your spirit or you have found out that they are cheating on you, this blog is for you. This week, Happiness Weekly looks at how you can release yourself from a toxic relationship and get on with a happier life – even if it means being alone.

What is a toxic relationship?
According to Canadian Living, a toxic relationship is one that makes you feel consistently bad about yourself. You may find yourself fending off subtle jabs or downright insults, dealing with unreliability or perhaps even deceit. A toxic relationship leaves you feeling anxious, unrewarded and unaccepted.

Still unsure? Check out this blog by Love Panky about the different types of toxic people and toxic-style relationships. In some cases, some of these can overlap, some people may check every box. As Natalie Avdeeva points out, the types of people who are toxic are:
– Controlling
– Jealous
– Bitchy
– Negative-thinking
– They put you down
– They cheat on you
– They lie to you (don’t put up with lies!)
– They’re abusive
– They blame you
– They are extremely insecure
– They’re demanding
– They’re over-the-top perfectionists
– They’re narcissistic
– They’re competitive
– They’re manipulative.

Here’s a checklist of symptoms of a toxic relationship:
– It feels as though no matter what you do or how hard you try, you can’t do anything right
– Are they constantly putting you down?
– Everything is about them and never about you, when you make it about you – they quickly manipulate it back to be about them again
– You find yourself unable to enjoy the good times
– Are you so emotionally dependant on each other that you can’t do anything alone?
– You’re uncomfortable being yourself (which is why you lose track of who you are!)
– They refuse to allow you to grow or change
– Is there a constant drama and it always feels so far out of your control?
– They start controlling you until you feel completely lost and confused.

If you answered ‘yes’ to two or more of these – these are your red flags … GET OUT NOW! GO!

Can you fix a toxic relationship?
Maybe … but at the time it is toxic, definitely not. You need to muster up all your courage and find a place to escape far away from the person. The following steps will hopefully lead you to a path where you’re feeling back on track rapidly. It is better to cut this person completely free from your life, and not consider any point of return, than to consider any kind of future with them. Whatever happens, do not encourage the bad behaviour. You deserve better!

What do I do if I suspect I’m in a toxic relationship but I’m not entirely sure?
Keep a diary – then no matter what they say, you can refer back and see what the reality was for yourself. By keeping a diary you will have a heap of evidence to validate your actions and words and it will help you to rebuild yourself quicker.

Throughout a toxic relationship, you’ll notice your self-esteem will plunge while the level of self-doubt rises so high that you feel like you’re drowning in it. Every time you’re left, you will hate yourself, blame yourself and become overwhelmed by guilt. By keeping a diary of how the person is making you feel, their actions and words, you can look back and go: “Hold up – no, the reality was this! Here’s what you said and did, here’s what I said and did.”

What if I stay?
The hard truth is: generally these relationships lead to the toxic person cheating on you. Talk about adding insult to injury! So after all the pain you’ve suffered as they’ve crushed your spirit, you also have the pain that you never truly had them to begin with. This is why it’s important that you acknowledge you’re in a toxic relationship and leave EARLY – to save yourself any further pain. Look out for the alarm bells and signs of a toxic relationship they come in all forms mentioned above.

So how do you move on?

1. Be honest with yourself
Allow yourself to be entirely disgusted with this person for treating you the way they have. Cry – trust me, you will cry A LOT! Don’t blame yourself – you’ve been through enough pain now and you’re probably feeling quite exhausted. Tell yourself that you’re leaving for your own wellbeing – in order to truly love yourself, realise that self-preservation means severing these ties.

2. Prepare to become super-human
You won’t eat, you won’t sleep, you may take time off work to deal with things, you’ll cry yourself into a world of dehydration. There’s nothing you can do about any of this except ride it out until it’s over with.

3. If you have decided to end the relationship, be clear about it
Stop contacting them COMPLETELY. Cut them off. Do not enable them to contact you again. Block them out of your life completely. Do whatever you have to do. I know I shouldn’t encourage you to fight fire with fire, but sometimes, particularly when we’re hurting, if you do it respectfully it can bring us a sense of power. So, if you can’t be blunt to them about it or you’re having trouble ending it, then turn it around and push it until you have manipulated them into saying it. If they’re toxic and intentionally hurting you, trust me, it won’t take long until they make the threat – and then go with it, stick with it and don’t look back. Hit that accelerator and go go go!

4. DO NOT worry about their feelings
Toxic people don’t have feelings! Well … they do, but as far as you’re concerned from now, they don’t! Consider them narcissists, which means they don’t have feelings, but they will pretend they do, if that helps. Think about how long they’ve overlooked your feelings. So, trust me – just tell yourself they don’t! Why? Because it’s when we consider their feelings that we continue our self-doubt and we start to go back. If you find yourself with any level of concern for someone who is hurting you, stop yourself right there and tell yourself that you deserve better than your current circumstances. Trust the universe to lead you to a better reality – it may mean sitting with the pain for some time, but it will be worth it. Anything is better than going back and suffering at the hands of the toxic relationship again. In fact, I read a quote recently that said: “Sometimes giving a person a second chance is like giving them an extra bullet for their gun because they missed you the first time” … what about once you have given them a hundred chances? Trust me, if you haven’t made this mistake yourself, it makes you feel as though you handed them a machine gun and it’s not worth it!

5. Don’t try to replace the person
They say the fastest way over someone is to find someone new. This is not the case when you’re recovering from a toxic relationship. When you’re recovering from a toxic relationship, unfortunately you are exceptionally vulnerable, more than if you’re just recovering from a standard relationship break up. The chances that you will entice another toxic person into your life are extremely high. Don’t go with it. Take comfort in knowing that if this person has left you for someone else, the chances that they are truly happy or will be happy long-term are exceptionally slim. And you would have left them anyway because the relationship was toxic … so don’t worry!

6. Struggling? Read about it
Spend some time reading about other people’s experiences and advice about leaving a toxic relationship – it will strengthen you. I found the Between Dreams blog written by the gorgeous Allie, and I have to say: it’s absolutely FANTASTIC! If you’re leaving a toxic relationship, you will certainly identify with the things she says, here’s an excerpt from it:

“You want the real, uncensored truth? Because for me, letting go of people is hard. I fight for the people I care about, I want the best for them, and I want to be that person who stuck it out for the long hard battle. Because how can you just give up on the years you’ve known each other? The time invested into that very relationship? The idea of giving up just doesn’t enter my mind.
Then one day, you wake up. You see how unhappy you are. You now see the trance of negativity that’s been placed around you. You begin to wonder which way to turn…
You can write out your feelings, you can list out the pros and cons, justify whatever it is in your mind, give them one more chance, but all it takes it one thought to change everything. For me, it was this:
“Fuck this. I want a life filled with happiness, love, and compassion. And you know what? I deserve it. It’s mine for the taking, so why am I holding myself back?”

Hopefully, even after reading this small passage by Allie – you are starting to feel less alone, more empowered and find comfort in the idea of moving forward.

7. Accept that your time was wasted and the relationship wasn’t real
Realise, no matter what they said, the relationship was not real. If it was, you would have known all the circumstances (including if they cheated, when and who it was with) and been able to have made an informed decision. If it was real and you had recognised that it was toxic for you… well there’s no way any rational person would be in it in the first place. So the person can say what they like, but the entire relationship was fake.

8. Use visualisation techniques
Visualise yourself collecting all the beautiful things you said to this person, all the good times, all the money you spent, the time you invested … and rip it off them! It’s like snatching back everything they have taken from you. Now that you’ve got all these emotions and beautiful words you said to them back and they’re clear of the toxic person, put it straight back on yourself. You deserve all the good you put into the relationship – they do not. So using visualisation you’re collecting all the good stuff back from the relationship (everything that’s yours and nothing they ever deserved), packing up all your hard efforts, boxing every sweet word and good deed you did, and then dumping it right back on yourself. Guess what they have now? Nothing! Empowering, huh?

9. Communicate with them using only visualisation techniques
Use visualisation to scream at the person: “You’re delusional! Everything was FAKE! I could never love you because I never knew you!” It may sound crazy but it’s quite cathartic! Everything you want to do to them or say to them do it in your mind. Play it all out and be done with it. It beats any consequences from actually becoming self-destructive.

10. Detox yourself as much as possible
Be strong! This is where hitting SHIFT DELETE (hard erasing on your computer, beyond any point of return) on your keyboard is your best friend. Go to any photo, any letter, any memory of that person. Select. SHIFT DELETE. Delete their phone number. Delete their email. Lose their address. Rip up every hard-copy photo. Bag up everything you want to return to them and be done with it. Go on a massive, deleting, destructive mission. By the end of it you will feel as though the relationship is just … ERASED! Don’t get me wrong: you won’t feel good, you won’t feel satisfied, you won’t get your smile back for a very, very long time … but it’s less painful stuff to look at and remember.

11. Lean on people around you for support
Make a pact with someone you really trust and love, that you will not be in touch with this person again. This means, while you’re vulnerable, you’ll be able to rely on the strength of others.

12. Quit asking yourself why and trying to figure out what was real
You’ve been stripped of your dignity, you’re hurting to capacity and now you’re finding yourself torturing yourself with a million questions: WHY WHY WHY! These questions are better left unanswered – and sometimes they don’t even come with answers – so instead of asking, accept the situation for what it is.

Don’t try to work out what was real because I can tell you now: it was all fake! If you had known the circumstances – would you really have been with that person in the way you were? Don’t give the toxic person the satisfaction of thinking it would be real had you have known the real scenario. Deep down they know it wasn’t real as well, otherwise they would have come clean about any deceit at the start.

If you are going to ask questions, ask them of yourself as a way of moving forward – this will empower you. Kris Carr wrote a really good blog about “How to identify and release toxic relationships”. Some of the questions you should be asking yourself to realise you were in a toxic relationship and start accepting the situation, come from her blog:
– Is the pain too great to stay the same?
– Do I constantly picture an alternate reality?
– Is it impossible to make boundaries?
– Is getting an apology (when it’s truly deserved) like pulling teeth?
– Does the relationship take more energy than it gives?
– Is blaming and complaining (coming from the toxic person) becoming really boring?
– Am I completely fatigued when I’m with that person and energetic when they’re gone?
– Am I afraid of what people will think of me if this relationship fails?
– Does the person make you feel as though you’ll be lost without them?
– Do I miss the old me?

I’ve walked away – now what?
Unfortunately there is no way to fast-track your way through dealing with the pain. There’s no potion to take it all away. Take every positive distraction possible. See a good psychologist if you need to. Chat to people – you’ll be surprised about how much support you receive. You need to sit with this incredible feeling of loneliness – it’s hurtful if they’ve left for someone else because your thoughts tell you they’re cosy, warm and feeling loved, while you’re left out in the cold – but don’t forget the truth: long-term, this relationship will not last either – and if it does, it’ll never be the same. There will always be discomfort, pain and mistrust. Consider your situation the lucky escape – well done, you’ve dodged a bullet!

Are you recovering from a toxic relationship? Please share your experience below.

Colour psychology and what your wardrobe reveals about you

Before you choose your outfit for the day, think about how you want other people to see you and interpret your personality … your clothes say far more than you think. Bridget Allen, senior fashion expert.

Socially everyone selects something of choice to wear from their wardrobe, but generally no further thought is taken other than if it looks good and feels comfortable. A picture is worth a thousand words, but 99% of that description is about the colour of that picture. Colour psychology is concerned with how certain colours effect emotions, perceptions and reactions.

According to Adam D Galinksy, a professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, “clothing affects how other people perceive us as well as how we think about ourselves”. Leave your inner fashionista behind, this week Happiness Weekly takes a practical look at what the colours in your wardrobe are really saying about you!

Colours at work

Black symbolises power and sophistication, but is also the colour of the secretive unknown creating an air of mystery. Some use it to hide their weight, others use it to hide their fears and insecurities. Black provides comfort while protecting emotional feelings and vulnerabilities. It symbolises control, hanging on to information and things rather than giving out to others. It radiates authority, but creates fear in the process. People that wear black are self-controlled and disciplined, independent and strong-willed but give an impression of authority and power. Affluent and success-orientated women often choose to wear black as it gives an impression of elegance, sophistication and confidence. It’s a great colour for trousers, jackets or shirts – it is recommended that you break it up with other colours.

Yellow can be seen as cheery and warm, it is the colour of mind, intellect and acquired knowledge. Uplifting and illuminating, it offers hope, happiness, cheerfulness and fun. Yellow inspires inquisitiveness and original thought. People that like yellow are generally great communicators and love to talk – particularly suitable to networkers, journalists and people that work in Public Relations. It is linked to clarity of thought and ideas which aids with decision making, focus and study, and recalling information. Yellow should be limited to accessories such as ties or necklaces because it can be impulsive and cause anxiety. More information about yellow and its variations is available here.

Gold is the colour of success, achievement and triumph. It is associated with abundance, prosperity, luxury, quality, prestige and sophistication. Valuable and elegant, gold implies affluence, material wealth and extravagance. Linked to masculine energy and the power of the sun – it is confident, passionate and eye-catching.

White is associated with purity, innocence, wholeness, completion and serenity. Cleanliness personified, the colour white is the colour for new beginnings and the ultimate purity which is why western brides and doctors wear it. The colour of protection and encouragement, white offers a sense of peace and calm, comfort and hope, and helps alleviate emotional upsets. It creates a sense of order and efficiency – great for inspiration if you wish to unclutter your life. Too much white can be cold, isolating, empty and bland. It implies a feeling of sterility, detachment and disinterest, providing little stimulation for the senses. Wear it sparingly, white is the classic colour for an office shirt because it provides a good background for the statement colour of a tie.

Silver has a feminine energy and is associated with the moon – it is fluid, emotional, sensitive and mysterious. Reflective and sensitive, silver inspires intuition, clairvoyance and mental telepathy. It is also associated with prestige and wealth as it is seen as glamorous, sophisticated, prosperous and modern. People that wear silver are respectable, courteous, dignified, self-controlled, responsible, patient, determined and organised. It resonates well in the corporate world to those in positions of responsibility (males and females).

Grey is the colour of compromise – it is neutral and detached. The closer it gets to black, the more dramatic and mysterious it becomes, but the closer it gets to white or silver, the more illuminating and lively it becomes. People that wear grey are generally subdued, quiet and reserved. Conformists, they are conventional, dependable and practical. Too much grey creates sadness and depression and a tendency to loneliness and isolation. More information about grey and its variations is available here.

Purple is a colour of imagination and spirituality, historically associated with luxury, wealth and royalty. It represents the future. Purple inspires unconditional and selfless love, and enhances psychic ability and spiritual enlightenment. It promotes harmony of the mind and emotions, contributing to mental balance and stability, and peace of mind. Violet is the colour of humanitarian, using its better judgement to do good for others, combining wisdom and power with sensitivity and humility. People that wear purple have an element of power as it demands respect. They are ambitious and self-assured leaders. Purple is difficult colour to pull off because it requires confidence to wear successfully. More information about purple, and its variations, is available here.

Indigo, the colour of intuition, perception and the higher mind. It promotes deep concentration during meditation. Powerful and dignified, it conveys integrity and deep serenity. People that love the colour indigo conform to things that have worked in the past, while planning for the future. It stimulates the right brain and helps with spatial skills.

Red is the colour of energy, passion and action. It exudes a strong and powerful masculine energy, it excites the emotions and motivates us to take action. Red is a powerful colour: it is a symbol for leadership, assertiveness, confidence, ambition and determination. Too much red can cause irritation, agitation, aggression and anger. In China it is the colour for good luck, in India it is the colour for purity and is often used in their wedding gowns. Red is a great colour to wear to negotiations, meetings and sales pitches. More information about the colour red, and its variations, is available here.

Brown symbolises age and maturity. It is serious, down-to earth and relates to security, protection and material wealth. People that wear brown take their obligations seriously and encourage a strong need for security and a sense of belonging. They feel that family and friends are of utmost importance, are honest, genuine and sincere – though can be stingy with money. They are trustworthy, reliable, loyal, dependable, practical and realistic. The colour of structure, it encourages orderliness, uniformity and organisation. It is reassuring and quietly confident. Wearing this colour can make you appear wise. It is a popular colour with teachers and academics because it inspires feelings of respect in a subtle manner as opposed to aggressively asserting respect like red or purple. Wearing too much brown can make you look stuffy or old fashioned. More information about brown and its variations is available here.

Blue is a calming colour that inspires serenity, trust and responsibility. Honest and loyal, this colour is reliable, sincere, reserved and quiet. It promotes mental and physical relaxation, reducing stress. In fact, the paler the shade of blue, the more freedom we feel. People that love blue define success as quality and quantity of relationships, they give more than receive and build strong, trusting relationships. They become deeply hurt if betrayed. Conservative and predictable, blue is safe, non-threatening, but persistent and determined to succeed. Wear blue when you need to give important news in a meeting but break it up with other colours if you are delivering bad news. More information about blue and its variations is available here.

Turquoise represents open communication and clarity of thought. It controls and heals the emotions creating emotional balance and stability. The colour turquoise recharges our spirits during times of mental stress and tiredness, alleviating feelings of loneliness. It increases creativity and sensitivity. People that wear turquoise are generally good at multi-tasking and are very caring. Turquoise also encourages us to build self-esteem and be self-sufficient. More information about turquoise and its variations is available here.

Orange radiates warmth and happiness. It is the colour of adventure, risk-taking and social communication. Orange offers emotional strength, it is optimistic and uplifting, and promotes spontaneity and a positive outlook. It inspires physical confidence, competition, independence, and aids in putting new ideas into action, banishing limitations. It encourages self-respect and respect of others. A great colour for accessories, orange prevents other colours from becoming overbearing. More information about orange and its variations is available here.

Green is the colour of harmony, growth and balance (creating equilibrium between the head and the heart). It is a natural peacemaker and an emotionally positive colour, encouraging us to love and nurture ourselves and others unconditionally. People that wear green enjoy observing and listening and have good judgement. They are generally inviting, generous, friendly and can keep confidences but also tend to look for recognition. A great colour for women’s dresses, it is also the ideal colour for accessories. More information about green and its variations is available here.

Pink is associated with femininity, unconditional love and romance. It represents compassion and nurturing. People that wear pink are intuitive and insightful and demonstrate tenderness, kindness, empathy and sensitivity. It is the colour of hope and good health. Pink calms and reassures our emotional energies, alleviating feelings of anger, aggression, resentment, abandonment and neglect. A non-threatening colour, people that love pink seek appreciation, respect and admiration. It is a great colour for items you will wear briefly but you can remove for the bulk of the day e.g. jackets and bags. More information about pink and its variations is available here.

Magenta is the universal colour for harmony and emotional balance. People that wear magenta are generally spiritual (yet practical), encouraging, have good common sense and a balanced outlook on life. Magenta strengthens our intuition and psychic ability while assisting to rise above daily obstacles and gain awareness and knowledge. An instrument of change and transformation, magenta aids us in moving forward, helping to release old emotional patterns that prevent personal and spiritual development. It is uplifting to our spirits during times of unhappiness, anger and frustration. Magenta is the colour of cheerfulness, happiness, contentment and appreciation for what you have acquired and achieved. Magenta is spontaneous and impulsive, yet resourceful and organised.

Speedy wardrobe colour tips
* Blue establishes trust and credibility. It is a safe colour and universally liked by most men and women.
* To appear friendly and approachable, wear lighter colours such as mid-tone blues, greens, blue-greens, teal, tan and peachy-orange.
* To get noticed or appear assertive, wear red (but note, it can be threatening).
* To appear confident, blue-green is a good business colour for women, it suggests high self-esteem, confidence but is still friendly and approachable.
* To show dependability, wear green.
* To appear neutral wear grey or beige. You may look like a fence-sitter, but it enables you to say what a client wants to hear rather than the truth.
* To look professional with authority, wear dark blue or dark grey. It’s great for credibility when promoting your business.
* To shock or inspire your audience, wear a magenta suit … with a matching top hat and cane!
* Earth tones (dark orange, mid-brown, light yellow, beige, tan or caramel) are seen as reliable.

Fast facts on colour psychology
- Teenagers often have a psychological need to wear black during the stage of transition from the innocence of childhood to the sophistication of adulthood. It enables them to hide from the world while they discover their own unique identity.
– According to Dr Jennifer Baumgartner, who wrote “You are what you wear: what your clothes reveal about you”, what you wear can inform people passing you in the street of your type of employment, ambitions, emotions and spending habits. “Shopping and spending behaviours often come from internal motivations such as emotions, experiences and culture,” she said.
– A study from Northwestern University examined the concept “enclothed cognition”. Researchers define it in their report as “the systematic influence that clothes have on the wearer’s psychological processes,” meaning what clothes say to you, rather than about you. How they make you feel, not just how they make you act and react.
– Women react more positively to blue-based colours, such as deep blue-reds, most blues, most pinks and blue-greens. Men find yellow-based colours more attractive. They appreciate true reds and oranges, peachy-apricots and most blues.
– Colours also enhance our culinary experience. Red is the most prominent colour in fast food logos because it stimulates appetite and expresses the speed at which you will be served your meal. Blue decreases appetite – however, people are more likely to drink from a blue glass than a red glass. Orange also assists with stimulating appetite.
– Trying to lose weight? Dieticians recommend eating off a blue plate as it suppresses appetite.

All about assertive communication

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The basic difference between being assertive and being aggressive is how our words and behaviour affect the rights and wellbeing of others. Sharon Anthony Bower

Never allow a person to tell you no who doesn’t have the power to say yes. Eleanor Roosevelt

Assertive communication helps us express our feelings, thoughts and wants in a way that allows us to stand up for our rights without infringing on the rights of other people. Like any social behaviour, assertiveness skills have to be learned and practiced.

Assertive communication involves the following steps:

Identify your communication style
Passive – I talk softly and rarely stand up for my rights. I usually try to avoid conflict and arguments. I don’t usually get rejected directly, but people take advantage of me because I am afraid to say no – then I get angry and resentful when my needs are not met.
Aggressive
– I always get my way, even if I have to hurt or offend people to get it. People never push me around. I use my position, power, and harsh or manipulative words. I speak in a loud voice. I can be abusive and enjoy getting even with people.
Passive Aggressive
– I’m sly, sarcastic and subtly insulting. I protect myself by avoiding problems and risks. I deliberately ruin other people’s plan or projects. I talk about others in negative ways. I dress however I want, regardless of the situation.
Assertive
– I often get what I want without offending other people. I am clear and direct when I communicate and am able to express my thoughts, feelings and wants easily. I am honest and show my confidence without being aggressive about it.

Identify your solutions style
Usually you may have no problem being assertive, but when it comes to solving a problem tend to become passive or aggressive. Use the examples above to identify what communication style you use when solving a problem.

Know your values and beliefs
Your beliefs and values were moulded during childhood and include rules about “good” and “bad” ways to act as taught by our parents and other role models.

Learn the responsibilities that come with effective communication
* Assess your true feelings without exaggeration or minimising. Express your feelings appropriately without insulting anyone
* Reply as soon as possible without taking an unreasonable amount of time
* Thinking through your opinions and realising others can disagree
* Learn from mistakes rather than punishing yourself or others for them
* Act responsibly
* Feel appropriate anger and happiness, and share those feelings with the people involved
* Don’t impose your personal beliefs or standards on others
* Think through your responses before answering a question
* Respect your commitments and allow enough time to fulfil promises
* Talk about your needs and learn to compromise
* Express your feelings without infringing on the rights and responsibilities of others
* Avoid labelling or making unfair judgements on yourself or others.

Learn to use assertive communication
Express yourself in a way that doesn’t violate the legitimate right of others by using “I” statements, thinking through responses and using correct assertive body language. Remember, there are four parts to a message:
Feelings
– by sharing your feelings it allows others to have more understanding. Sharing the way you feel will give others the opportunity to behave in a way that meets your needs. For example: “When you are condescending, I feel disrespected” or “When you hug me, I feel loved”.
Observations
– sharing what your senses tell you: it should always be factual. For example: “I heard you call me an idiot” or “I saw you break the door”.
Thoughts
– sharing your beliefs and theories shows others that you have attempted to make sense of the situation. For example: “I think it’s hurtful to call me an idiot” or “I think I’m ready to do this course because it will challenge me”.
Needs
– It is important to express your needs with other people because they can’t read your mind. For example: “I need some time to think about this” or “I want some quiet so I can concentrate on reassessing my goals”.

Now to put the whole message together
“I feel _______(emotion)_______ when ______(situation)______, because _____(reason)_____, and I need ______(request)________.”
For example:
“I feel disappointed when you tell me I can’t do something because you haven’t given me a chance to try it and I need that chance to be disproved before I feel you can make your judgement.”
It may feel unnatural at first, but it just takes practice. The more natural it becomes, the more you will begin to see an improvement in the amount of successful resolutions in your daily situations.

Mind your (body) language
How you express yourself is just as important as what is said. If your body language is assertive, you will:
* Maintain eye contact: don’t stare, but avoid looking down or away
* Keep good posture (stand or sit up straight) and remain at a good distance from the other person – don’t stand too close
* Avoid fidgeting
*Keep your posture open and relaxed, relax your shoulders
* Naturally and briefly open your arms and use other hand gestures to emphasise your words
* Maintain a level tone of voice, and speak clearly at a volume that can easily be heard
* Concentrate on breathing normally speaking at a normal volume
* Keep facial expressions that fit the message you are trying to convey.

Diplomatic communication
Diplomacy is taking responsibility for getting your own needs met in a way that preserves the dignity of the other people involved.  Like tact, diplomacy involves careful consideration of the feelings and values of another so as to create harmonious relationships with a reduced potential for offence. It is the ability to communicate hurtful information without offending through the use of consideration, compassion, kindness and reason. Characteristics of diplomatic communication include open, inoffensive communication that is clear, flexible, with specific wording, a positive approach, non-judgemental and demonstrates a relaxed manner both verbally and non-verbally.

How to act diplomatically
– Make a conscious decision to act assertively. Avoid aggressive words and behaviours
– Be decisive when saying no. Explain your reasons without being apologetic
– Approach conflicts diplomatically
– Practice talking assertively with a friend
– Respect the wants, needs and feelings of others and accept their perspective may differ from yours
– Use active listening to ensure people know you have heard them. Ask questions to clarify
– Take a problem-solving approach to conflict and see the other person as your collaborator
– Concentrate on facts
– Use direct language “I  think” or “It looks like” rather than “You do this or that”
– Don’t interrupt people when they are talking. Understand what people are saying
– Resist interruptions until you have finished your thoughts. Don’t be scared to say “Just a moment, I haven’t finished…” and continue
– Be conscious of your body language: stop smiling too much, nodding too much, tilting your head or dropping your eyes in response to another person’s gaze.

How to diffuse an argument assertively
- Organise to have the conversation at another time and leave
– If you stay, remain calm, steer the conversation back to the original point, try to understand the other person’s perspective and try to find a common ground
– Accept that other issues may be motivating the person’s behaviour and don’t take it personally
– Avoid taking heat-of-the-moment criticism to heart
– Learn from mistakes and try to negotiate positive scenarios in future with a better outcome. Move the discussion to talk about how you will behave differently in future to get a desired outcome.

Benefits of assertive communication
- Improved confidence and self-esteem
– Better problem solving ability and less conflicts to manage
– Increased resilience
– Reduced stress/anxiety
– Learning the clearest, most productive and effective way to communicate honestly and openly
– The “feel good” feeling we get when we do it correctly – like teamwork!
– Improves relationships and leads to the development of mutual respect
– Assisting us to achieve our goals
– Minimising hurting and alienating people
– Protecting us from being taken advantage of by others
– Making better choices and good decisions
– Expressing ourselves (verbally and non-verbally) about positive and negative topics.

Quick Tips: Being assertive
- Be clear about your objectives: specify what you want and your needs, but be opening to listen to other people’s perspectives and criticisms
– Show respect: stay calm, be kind, maintain an even tone of voice
– Acknowledge the other person’s perspective
– Meet someone at their eye level – sit down or stand up with someone to equalise the balance of power
– Choose your words wisely – put yourself in the picture by using “I” statements, don’t get personal
– Ask questions to clarify the speaker’s intent
– Allow others to assert themselves – don’t interrupt
– Compromise where you can: meet people half way to get more win-win situations.

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