Want to transform your happiness at work or home life with just four little words? Sure you do.
It's as easy as "say what you mean". It sounds almost too simplistic to be true but so many people have issues with this concept. I know, I've been there myself, and I help clients with it every day. It's very easy to get trapped in a weird kind of socially acceptable double-think where our own needs are always at the end of the "to do" list after everyone else has had their desires taken care of and we rarely get to spend time/money/energy doing what we want.
Moving ourselves up our own "to do" list can be breaking the habit of a lifetime.
The main reasons I see clients avoiding doing this is because of the following misconceptions:
1. My needs are less important than those of my children/spouse/boss/cat.
2. He/she should be able to know what I need/would make me happy.
3. If I say what I mean there will be conflict and it will be horrible.
What this boils down to is:
1. Completely illogically thinking that other people's needs are more important than our own. How can that be? It makes no sense. Our needs are equally as important as any other human being's.
2. Expecting our spouse, friends and colleagues to be mind-readers: of course they are not. Disappointment guaranteed.
3. Assuming that there will be conflict if we voice our needs. Actually in reality, generally other people welcome the clarity and direction. Really.
If you could do with a little more in your life that really pleases you, you should try working through four easy steps:
Say: This is key... you need to actually voice it. Yes, that's out loud, honey. Take responsibility for your needs and voice what's on your mind. You don't need to be aggressive, just calmly state what's important to you. Stop expecting everyone else to be a mind-reader.
What: Be specific. How can anyone really help or support you if they don't understand exactly what it is that will make you happy? Instead of something vague e.g. "I'd like it if I could choose a movie I liked for once", be specific - "I'd like to choose the movie on Saturday night this week".
You: This is often the biggest stumbling block. After so many years of putting the needs of your spouse, children or workplace before your own, it can be hard to actually tune into the fact that a) you have a need/preference yourself and b) it matters. Remember: your needs are equally as important as anyone else's.
Mean: You don't need to be mean but you do need to mean it! Let go of the false assumption that saying what you mean will always lead to conflict. You will be surprised how little it does. As you get more of what you want in your life you will find that you resent less the things that don't go your way l or that you compromise on.
So, start small... speak up with the accounts department and say when you would like the report and that you think that's a reasonable request; choose the restaurant that you really want to go to; take turns to pick the movie; say no to the party you just really don't want to attend. I challenge my clients to say what they mean once a day as they start to break the habit of constantly deferring their own needs. It's a fascinating process. The first few times they say what they mean with utter trepidation, waiting for the sky to fall.
Then, the sky doesn't fall but, spooky, they actually start getting what they ask for most of the time. They find people like to please them for a change, and before you know it they are accelerating way past the once a day challenge without prompting. Why? Because life becomes easier, more fun, less resentful, when we own what we need to make us happy. You have more energy. Your spouses are happier because they can stop the guessing game of "what will keep him/her happy". Life becomes a whole lot easier all round.
Will you get what you want every time? Absolutely not. But you sure as hell will get it a lot more than you do when you don't say what you mean. Start embracing these four simple little words and the balance of life will start to shift in your favour immediately.
Louise Thompson is a life coach, yoga teacher and corporate escapee. For more from Louise visit positivebalance.co.nz.