The Importance of Speaking your TRUTH. 

Assertiveness is an essential skill for achieving sovereignty in one’s life. In becoming assertive, we find ways to express who we are and what we need and want. We can learn how to communicate without being passive and neglectful of our needs, or being aggressive and insensitive of the needs of others.

When we communicate passively, we say YES  to things when we really rather  say NO to. We pretend things are okay when they’re not. We make decisions guided not by what we want and need but by the needs and desires of others.

This loss of connection to our authentic selves causes a split and we become alienated from our true selves. Lacking a connection with this deeper self, we tend to focus on the outer self- the superficial aspects of who we think we are. So, we become overly focused on our appearance and how we look to others.

We strive to be nice and accommodating. We want to please others and seek their approval over our own.

Living a life like this is draining instead of nourishing, and so, we turn to food to find relief and solace. 

You may believe you don’t deserve nourishment because you feel as if you have failed to please those around you, so you deprive yourself of food or reprimand yourself for eating when you are truly hungry.

When we communicate aggressively, we end up lashing out and attacking others as an attempt to defend our sovereignty. Attacking and lashing out at others may leave you feeling misunderstood and alone. You may know how to express your needs and wants in the moment, but it comes at a high price of disregarding the needs and feelings of others. In the end, unable to find the nourishment that close relationships might bring, you end up turning to food for comfort and companionship.

If we want to obtain true sovereignty, we must learn to protect our rights in a way that honors the rights of others.

We must learn to be ASSERTIVE: to stand up for ourselves, to express our feelings, and to state what we want without blaming, without threats or accusations. 

We need to treat our own thoughts and feelings with respect while also respecting the thoughts and feelings or others. This is the only way we will feel good about ourselves and to have the kind of relationships we want.

Assertiveness is a skill: How to find your voice and speak your truth.

Like any new skill, this one takes practice and a willingness to go through a certain clumsy phase before achieving mastery. It’s normal to feel a bit awkward when first practicing being assertive, but eventually with practice it will get a lot easier.

Basic Assertiveness Formula: 

This is a basic formula for expressing yourself. It’s hard to think clearly in the ‘heat of the moment,’ so this simple formula is very helpful.

You only have to remember five words:

When you …

I feel …

Because …

  1. Fill in the blank with a description of the behavior that triggered your feelings:

When you talk to me like that …

When you look at me that way …

When you say …

When you make comments about what I am eating …

Describe the behavior as specifically and objectively as possible, being careful not to make any assumptions about the other person’s intent, such as “When you put me down like that …” or “when you act like you know what’s best for me …”

  1. Next, take a moment to check in and see how you are feeling, and then state the feeling as clearly as you can. 

I feel angry …

I feel frustrated …

I feel hurt …

I feel confused …

It’s important that you take responsibility for your feelings and not say, “You make me feel …,” because the other person will feel that you are blaming or attacking them. This will close the door to communication.

  1. Next, ask yourself : Why does this behavior trigger these feelings? How do I interpret what they are doing? 

For example: 

Because it gives me the impression you don’t care about me …

Because I get the idea you don’t trust me …

Because it seems like you think you know better than I do what’s best for me …

Tips on Becoming Assertive: 

  • When being assertive, it’s best to keep it short; Try not to get lost in a lot of words.
  • It’s okay to not be assertive in the moment that the behavior occurs. You can always bring it up later.
  • You will sometimes encounter a difference in feelings and experience from the other person. This is okay! You can agree to disagree and still remain friends.
  • Remember to always come back to your own experience and feelings. You are sending yourself a message of self-respect when you take care of identifying and expressing your feelings.
  • The goal of being assertive is not to try and get the other person to change. We cannot change other people. The goal of being assertive is to feel better about ourselves and to speak our truth. 

Learning to be assertive will have a  profound effect on your relationship to food and eating.

According to Dr. Anita Johnston, author of, Eating in the Light of the Moon:

 “In my experience working with women struggling with disordered eating, I’ve not seen anyone recover without first learning to be assertive. It is probably the most important skill needed because it is the means by which we embrace and express the essence of who we really are without being destructive to others. It is how we ensure that we are on the right path, the path of the heart, that leads us to people and places that are nourishing and fulfilling and steers us away from those that are not.”

Practicing this essential skill is a way to cope directly with one of many stressors in our lives. By learning to ask for what you want, you’ll learn how to identify, seek out and feed your emotional hungers in appropriate ways, making it less likely you’ll turn to food for nourishment.

Learning to say NO to what you don’t want and learning to say YES to what you do want is a powerful way to define your personal boundaries. Personal boundaries will help you to feel secure in your ability to set limits and be more comfortable with intimacy. You won’t fear losing yourself in relationships.

When you can express your thoughts and feelings openly and directly, your self-esteem and self-confidence will increase because you are affirming that your thoughts and feelings matter- YOU MATTER. YOUR TRUTH MATTERS.

Speaking your truth becomes a way of life. You no longer need to use food to fend off the nagging anxiety that comes with acting one way when feeling another, saying yes to things when you’d rather say no.

Happiness is a state of mind (not body). It’s not a goal you can set like a weight goal. It’s a by-product of being in your own truth and choosing your own path through life. The more assertive you become, the happier you’ll feel as you no longer need to use food to numb out this tension from silencing your truth.

Much love, light and all the things,

Karen Louise

 

Reference: This article is from a chapter from the book, Eating in the Light of the Moon by Anita Johnston, PhD

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Karen Louise Scheuner, MA, RDN

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