Recently, I was guided to read another book by one of my favorite authors and mentors, Doreen Virtue. The title of her latest book, "Assertiveness for Earth Angels: How to be Loving Instead of Too Nice." spoke to me loud and clear and if you are reading this, I bet it will for you too! :)
Well, hello, this book was full of wisdom, lightbulb moments, and engaging exercises/dialogue to help flex your assertiveness muscles.
In my first book, Your Wide Awakening: A Guide to Anorexia Recovery, we explore the idea of Highly Sensitive People. Through my research and meeting with others suffering from eating disorders, addictions, depression being sensitive seems to be a trait seen across the board. Virtue describes a highly sensitive person to be "receptive to the energies in any room they walk into. They’re attuned to other people’s moods and feelings and to environmental factors such as chemicals, pollution, or noise. And they’re also sensitive to other people’s opinions. This sensitivity is both a gift and a lifesaving instinct."
This a trait that tends to be seen too with Earth Angels, as Virtue calls them. She explains an Earth Angel as this, "Do you feel different from other people, as if you were dropped off on this planet and wonder when someone's coming to take you home? If so, then you may be an Earth Angel. If you have a passion and talent for healing, teaching, or helping others, yet you yourself have substance-abuse problems, weight issues, relationship challenges, and the like, then you may be an Earth Angel. If you're highly sensitive and you abhor violence in any form, then you may very well be an Earth Angel!"
Does this sound like you?
And since you are sensitive, you don't want to ruffle anyones feathers and chose to avoid conflict. You stay in a place of hurt and resentment as you chose to repress your feelings. That is a cold lonely place I can tell ya! You heart physically aches because your breath is tightened and tension is felt all over the body. You live in a state of fear, you close off your heart to your purpose and that is so painful, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Your feelings are yours and they are meant to be expressed. I know its been hard for those of us who are people pleasers of the world to express your true feelings and maybe you are really terrified to tell someone how you feel. A quote I swiftly return to in scary moments that I have daily, is by Brene Brown and she says, "“You cannot have courage and comfort.” Brene says "when we choose courage and stand in a place of bravery, we feel most alive."
Yep, its scary but when we speak our Truth, what stands on the other side is empowerment and freedom, something we all deserve in this lifetime.
The book offers healthy ways to speak your truth in a loving, kind way with a peaceful resolution. If you are always holding your feelings in, at some point, they will bubble over and out your mouth in a way that is doesn't sit right with you or the other person. It is really about being authentic with other person. Really expressing the truth with a dialogue of ..." I feel when..."A healthy relationship can occur when you are super honest about your feelings.
A really important concept Doreen explores is healing unworthiness. In coaching myself through an eating disorder and now others, I found that my feeling of unworthiness was directly linked to my level of assertiveness. I really had to look at the cold hard facts that I am worthy to be loved. That I am worthy of goodness. I really had to own that.
You are sooooo worthy too, my dear.
Another important point Virtue discusses in the book among so many other things are RED FLAGS. You know, those whispers, signs, physical symptoms in the body like perspiring, stomach pain, "gut" feelings that your inner guide is sending you about getting into/continuing a relationship with someone. Your inner guide is waving its big flag stating, "WARNING, WARNING, TOXIC RELATIONSHIP AHEAD...PROCEED ON!" That's really about tuning in and heeding that warning and following through with not getting involved in that relationship. Guilty as charged over here, I don't always do that. I think,"Oh no, they were just having a bad day. Or I bet I can change them or give them some guidance." Um, no silly me, you can't change anybody, not ever. As Doreen reminds us, " A leopard doesn't change its spots."
I can truly say, this is a life changing book for the Too Nice Nancy's and People Pleasing Penelope's of the world. Whether you are spiritual or not, this book offers compassionate and loving tools on how to say "no" and to establish healthy boundaries in your world so you have more time to give to healthy relationships, your hobbies, and your purpose. There are so many truth nuggets and healing exercises throughout the book that will really guide you in awakening to your Light. By using Doreen's inspiration and you taking inspired action, you will feel lighter, more authentic, and definitely more assertive. ;-)
The following is an excerpt from Assertiveness for Earth Angels: How To Be Loving Instead of “Too Nice” by Doreen Virtue, published by Hay House (November, 2013), available at bookstores or online at www.HayHouse.com. Permission granted by Hay House.
"Whenever we avoid conflict by keeping our feelings to ourselves, we do ourselves and others a disservice. This is a form of dishonesty and manipulation. We’re trying to control the other person’s reactions by controlling what we tell them.
So when someone asks you if you’re upset and you say that you aren’t when you really are, you’re being controlling. You’re trying to keep them from being angry with you or from starting an argument with you. Or, you’re holding your feelings inside to prevent the other person from seeing that you are hurt.
Now, that doesn’t mean you have to go to the other extreme and bulldoze the other person with the blunt truth.
There’s an in-between way to handle conflict that’s just right and very healthy and honest. After you’ve collected your thoughts and feelings, go to the person and say this magical phrase: “I’d like to clear some things with you.”
This nonthreatening phrase keeps communication open because the other person doesn’t feel accused. Start by taking a deep breath and silently praying for strength and a clear mind. Even though your heart may be racing and you might even be perspiring, know that anytime you do something for the first time, you’ll feel intimidated or afraid. Each time you practice a new behavior, it becomes more natural and easier.
Look the other person in the eye and say to him or her from your heart and without apology: “I really care about our relationship, so I need to share my feelings in order for us to clear them.”
Now, the other person may feel threatened by this and might immediately become defensive or even argumentative. Don’t let this throw you, unless the other person becomes verbally or physically abusive.
(Don’t try to negotiate with an abusive person, especially if he or she intoxicated. If abuse occurs, leave immediately and seek appropriate support or protection.)
In most situations, others will be open to hearing you. During your discussion, it’s vital that you own your feelings. This means: don’t use blaming or shaming words. Even if you do blame them, saying that you do will shut down all further communication.
Use phrases such as I feel, I felt, and to me. This way, you’re not poking and prodding at the other person and inadvertently provoking their defensiveness.
Do your best to keep your cool while talking about and owning your feelings. If you start to cry, let yourself be real. The same with anger: allow yourself to be authentic, but don’t act on this emotion, such as by yelling or calling names. Also, please don’t put yourself down in any way.
Don’t diminish, disparage, or apologize for your feelings . . . ever! Remember: You have a right to your feelings, even if other people don’t understand or agree with them! Your feelings are your signals of deep truths inside of you. They’re the language of your soul, and they need you to listen to them.
After you’ve talked about your feelings, allow the other person to explain his or her own. There are always two sides to every story. However, notice your gut feelings while you’re listening. If you get an uneasy feeling that the other person is covering his or her tracks or being dishonest with you, then note that—because he or she probably is.
As your assertiveness level grows stronger, you’ll have the courage to say to a person who’s lying to you, “I don’t believe what you’re saying,” or something equivalent. But for now, just notice that you get the feeling that he or she is being dishonest, manipulative, or defensive.
This isn’t the kind of person you want to spend much time with. Those are toxic behavior patterns that permeate all of that individual’s relationships.
If the other person starts blaming you or is defensive, the conversation will go in an unhealthful direction. Blaming is a key symptom of the ego’s fears about being exposed. As long as one or both of you are involved in blaming, nothing will get resolved.
Toxic relationships will pull you down every time. You don’t need to have a toxic relationship when there are so many nontoxic potential friends and partners available. Never believe you have to settle for an unhealthy relationship. You don’t.
A boundary is your limit, which no one can overstep or violate. No matter who the other person is or how much you love him or her, your boundary is something that he or she is not allowed to breach.
For instance, I have boundaries in all of my relationships that dictate that you must treat me with respect. I, in turn, will treat you with respect. This is a nonnegotiable boundary for me, and if anyone violates this and is disrespectful toward me, I will try to clear the energy by discussing my feelings and boundaries, and then listening to the other person. If he or she continues to be disrespectful toward me, the relationship is over, without any guilt on my part. I still love the person, but because of the behavior overstepping my firm boundary, I no longer have contact with him or her. Boundaries are a necessary part of self-care, just like washing your hair or wearing shoes to protect your feet. They are healthy, normal, and necessary.
Every relationship has issues and negotiations about each person’s personal boundaries. So it’s not whether you have conflict, but how you deal with conflict that matters for a long-term relationship.
Personal boundaries include how much . . .
. . . body space and distance from other people you need.
. . . time alone you prefer.
. . . affection and romance you need.
. . . you need to hear words of affection.
. . . you need your personal items to be left alone and untouched by others.
. . . you require honesty, reliability, and sobriety within the relationship.
. . . financial equality and fairness matter to you [. . . and so forth].
Part of being an assertive Earth Angel is learning how to have the strength and the courage to maintain your boundaries. It can get exhausting when it feels like other people are trying to step all over your boundaries. It might wear you down, and you start to think, Does this really matter? Well, it does!
Your inner self relies upon your outer self for caretaking. You might say that your inner self is like a little child you’re nurturing. That means that if it’s tired or needs to play, your outer self should honor this and not push your inner self beyond its limits.
Even though the other person may be disappointed or even angry when you say no, believe me when I tell you that he or she does understand. Remember that the other person is human, too, and knows what limitations are like. Even if your refusal comes as a disappointment, deep down he or she will respect you for it!
When you say no, you’re modeling healthy behavior for others. Part of the reason why they may react angrily toward you is because it’s never occurred to them that they could say no to unreasonable demands put upon their own time!
So when you do something that people haven’t seen you do previously—like saying no—they may be surprised. They may take your no personally, and it’s okay for you to briefly explain that this isn’t anything personal and has to do with you maintaining clear boundaries with respect to your schedule.
Don’t feel like you have to explain why you’re saying no, though. The more you explain why, the more leverage the other person has, which he or she can use to manipulate you into changing that no into a yes.
Boundaries mean that you teach people what you will and won’t accept in the relationship. They can be a lot of work, but that’s what it takes to build a healthy relationship with yourself and others.
Another important boundary is to respect your right to schedule your time. Don’t allow others to dictate your schedule to you. For instance, you have the right to not answer the phone or doorbell when it rings, and to not feel obligated to immediately answer e-mails or social-media posts. If someone asks you to drop everything to drive him or her across town, you have the right to say no. It’s like the old adage “A lack of planning on your part doesn’t constitute an emergency on my part.” We must overcome impulsive rescuing tendencies.
Source Is the Only Source
A lot of people use guilt to manipulate others into getting their way. They also include flattery mixed with guilt. So, as an example, they’ll say, “Only you can help me; and if you don’t help me, there will be horrible consequences for me.”
As a sensitive Earth Angel, you don’t want anyone to suffer, so you allow the other person’s words to manipulate and control you. Then you feel weak and used, as well as resentful and angry. Add to this the frustration that arises because you’ve backtracked on your promise to take excellent care of yourself . . . and you’ve got a heap of toxic energies inside your mind, emotions, and body.
It’s so important to remind yourself that every person has the same Source: God. Those who play with your emotions to get their way are creations of God, just like you and everyone else. You’re not their God, nor are you their Source. So, allow Source God to be the person’s caretaker. Pray for guidance about how you can truly help him or her gain strength and be self-sufficient.
Of course, there will be instances where you’re acting as an Earth Angel and bringing forth God’s help through your efforts. But those instances are clearly guided by love, not by guilt.
If you’re giving because of guilt, it’s not true or pure giving, as was discussed in the previous chapter. Your gift out of guilt is tainted with toxic energies."
Thank you Doreen for giving us the gift of your voice and granting us permission to use ours. It's always been our right, we just needed to be reminded. :)))
Love and Light Always,