Change Isn’t Easy, but It’s Worth it.

“An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion, unless acted upon by an outside force.” That’s Newton’s First Law of Motion. Basic science tells us that resistance is a common response to change, whether we’re talking about the movement of an object, or human behavior. Unless some “outside force” pushes us to change, we just won’t. We are more comfortable doing things the way we are used to doing them.

Right now you have two choices: Either change and become more assertive, or continue to live with your aggressive or deferring communication style. One result of aggression or deference is low self-esteem or bad feelings about yourself. Another result of poor communication styles is bullying. The result of assertion, however, is high self-esteem and good feelings about yourself.

Which will you choose? Let’s look at how you can overcome obstacles to change:

  1. Agree to change
  2. Practice being the person you want to be
  3. Improve daily behavior
  4. Make a new set of rules
  5. Practice saying affirmations

Agree to change

The first step in overcoming obstacles to change is to stop saying you do not use aggressive or deferring behavior. If you notice that people avoid or stay away from you, that’s a sign that you need to change. Turning people off is a high price to pay just to have things go your way. Aggressive people are often sure they are right and, therefore, feel no need to change. Admit that you need to change and do something about it.

Practice being the person you want to be

Imagine you’re a basketball player and your coach tells you that you need to change your form. He says that you’ll make 25% more baskets if you just change your shooting style. He shows you the correct way to shoot the ball. You try it and miss. It feels all wrong to you. You are not used to the motion so you’re tempted to go back to your old shooting style. But, you don’t. You keep practicing this new way of shooting. The more you practice, the more comfortable it feels, and, soon enough, the shots do start to fall.

The same is true for changing your behavior. At first it will feel uncomfortable to be assertive, but the more you practice being the person you want to be, the more natural it will feel to you. As you learn to act more openly and honestly, others will start to notice and your self-esteem will improve. Your relationships with others will improve as well.

Improve daily behavior

As you practice being the assertive person you want to be, you will notice yourself doing things differently. The way you talk to people and the way you react to situations will be more calm, more direct and respectful. Honest, assertive behavior is very rewarding because it feels good to have others react well to you. As you start to see positive results from your new way of communicating, take note. Ask yourself, “What did I do right and how can I do that again and again?”

Make a new set of rules

Just as any board game or sport has a rulebook, you have a rulebook for life. It is what tells you how to play the game, what moves to make and how to interact with other players, or in real life, people. Unlike the rulebook of a board game, however, you have the advantage of being able to change the rules in your rulebook. Simply decide how you want to act in stressful situations, and make that a new rule. Once you have made new, assertive rules for reacting to stressful situations, they will become, through practice, a new set of behaviors.

Practice saying affirmations

Changing your behavior starts with your thoughts. Just as an athlete has to think positive thoughts in order to perform well, we must have positive thoughts about our behavior in order to behave the way we want. Positive self-talk or affirmations will help you to change your behavior.

To put your new rules for behavior into action, write them down in the form of affirmation statements. The key to writing effective affirmation statements is to use the first person, or “I,” when you write. Keep your affirmations short, positive, and simple. Be sure to put them in the present tense – “I do” phrases, rather than “I will.”

These affirmations will slowly become your new rules for behavior. Using affirmation statements might feel uncomfortable at first, but stick with it! After a short time, your negative or bad thoughts will become quieter, and your positive thoughts about yourself will become louder. These affirmations will support the changes you are making in your behaviors. Examples of powerful affirmation statements are  “I have the right to ask for what I want” and “I have control over my choices“.

We hope you enjoyed this post about overcoming obstacles, part of our Interpersonal Assertion and Bullying Prevention blog series. If you would like to see how we can help assess and teach critical skills for bullying prevention, click the free trial link below.