L. Sieja, M.A.
Licensed Professional Counselor
A Message for the Fall of the Year
In the scheme of things, the fall of the year is a time of closing down. The trees begin to shed their leaves, the flowers of summer begin dwindling, and we start thinking about the end of the year. The fall is also, however, a time of beginnings, because as school gets underway, the families with children get into a more regular routine, the adult students have to become more disciplined, and all of us are ready to start anew. It's especially nice when the ferociousness of the summer heat gives way to moderate days and cool nights, which gives us more energy and enthusiasm. This seems like a good time to focus on yourself: in what ways can you grow, both intellectually and spiritually? What are some new goals you can set for yourself physically and emotionally?
There are lots of directions to go in answering those questions for yourself, and I would like to offer a place for you to begin that task. In order to be a complete and happy person, we must be willing to assert ourselves to others. Sometimes it's hard to ask for what you need, or to make sure that your needs are getting met in a way that isn't offensive to others. For people with shaky self-esteems and wobbly boundaries, the whole idea of assertiveness is particularly troubling, as they may not believe they deserve to get what they want, don't even know what it is they want, or are afraid to ask. The key, of course, is in being able to communicate your needs and wants to others, and following are a few of the ways to do just that.
1) Use whole messages; that is, include feelings as well as thoughts in your request.
2) Take responsibility of your own feelings by using 'T' messages (I feel ........ when you ........ because ........ and I want you to ........ ).
3) Use high esteem body language, i.e., maintain eye contact, sit or stand erect, uncross your arms, speak clearly and firmly.
4) Practice in front of a mirror.
5) Give yourself affirmations. It really does help to write those out, and place them in places you'll see them often, like a bathroom mirror or on the refrigerator.
6) Verbalize the positive consequences of getting your needs met. This is a good way to get affirmations from others.
7) Remember that optimistic expectations are more often realized than pessimistic ones.
Using some of these techniques, I challenge you to set some realistic goals for yourself, and teach others that you deserve the right to get your own needs met. Being assertive with others means respecting yourself and expecting positive results. May the autumn of this year be one of new beginnings for you.