A friend needs a push in the right direction.
- She wants information, but doesn't feel comfortable asking. She did, however, share her thoughts with you, and you do the asking for her.
- She'd love to work on that next project, but feels overshadowed by a co-worker. That's when you speak up on her behalf, and suggest to the boss that she would be a great addition to the team.
- She has an innovative idea, but keeps her thoughts to herself rather than taking a chance and speaking up. At the next meeting, you speak up, making sure that everyone knows it was her idea originally.
It's so easy to do these things for others. So, why is it so hard to speak up for ourselves?
True, not everyone has this issue. Some people have no problem showcasing their own talents and ideas, and have no problem admitting when they don't understand something. For the rest of us, this is the challenge of a lifetime. If you're one of those who happen to be more timid verbally, see if one of these ideas is helpful:
- Try being the little engine that could. It's amazing how much a positive attitude can influence our actions. Gear yourself up for a typical situation. Rehearse in the mirror or with a trusted companion. Practice until saying those words out loud is no big deal. And give yourself a reward each time you power through one of those uncomfortable moments.
- Watch that other person who always seems to have no problem speaking up. Borrow strategies that you'd be comfortable trying, and practice using them with family and friends. Once you're more comfortable, give it a try at work or school.
- Be kind to yourself. Every time your mind starts sending you a negative message, tell yourself to STOP. It might seem silly, but you've really just gotten into a bad habit of sending yourself unkind messages. Break the habit and train your brain to say kind things to yourself, in much the same way as you'd say something kind to your child or your friend. If you wouldn't say something to a friend, don't say it to yourself.
- Be happy with baby steps. Pick one area where you'd like to make progress and make an action plan for yourself. What are five different things you'd need to do in order to bring a greater level of comfort to the goal you have set? Make an effort to practice each step twice each day. Pretty soon you'll be ready to move forward
It often feels impossible to get out of the rut in which we find ourselves. But, remember, we are all the result of the practices in which we engage every day. As though you were training a puppy, have patience. As if you were holding a crying baby, look into your heart and tell yourself, "I see you. I hear you. You are important and I care. You are worth the effort, and I will not give up on you."
Give it a try. After all, you are worth the effort.