How To Turn Your Anger Into Assertiveness

I've noticed a consistent pattern among myself and my coaching clients: we all have a history of not standing up for ourselves when other people behave in ways that we don't feel good to us. Most of us had parents who weren't willing or able to teach us how to deal with our emotions, to self-soothe our nervous system when we were in distress, or to stand up for ourselves when our emotional or physical boundaries were being violated. Often the person we most needed to stand up to was one or both of our parents themselves, and that rarely goes well when you're a distressed child trying to stand up to an adult who is being unreasonable because their wounded inner child is running the show.

Turn Your Anger Into Assertiveness

Turn Your Anger Into Assertiveness

All of this is a recipe for ever-increasing anger, resentment and frustration. We end up overcompensating in a desperate attempt to get our needs met. Internalise that toxic cocktail and it's no wonder we end up anxious, depressed and lacking self-confidence.

Behavior patterns learned as a child tend to stick even if they never really worked well, and coping strategies learned as a child rarely work well in the adult world.… Continue reading…

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How To Be The Master Of Your Own Destiny

American writer Henry David Thoreau is famous for once writing:

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.

Many people live their entire lives as if they were at the mercy of their life circumstances. Now it's true that there are some things in life that we have no direct control over, like natural disasters and other people's behavior. But it's equally true that we often have more say in how our life goes than we think we do. For instance, we can choose to live on a fault line in an earthquake-prone city or we can choose to live away from hotspots of seismic activity; and some forms of communication are much better at getting a response that we would like from other people than others.

Master Your Own Destiny

Master Your Own Destiny

We have two choices in life: We can either submit to our life circumstances, give up our power and lead a life of resignation and often-not-so-quiet desperation; or we can choose to be the master of our own destiny.

If the idea of being the captain of your own ship sounds appealing, here's how we can do it:… Continue reading…

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How To Recover From Childhood Bullying

I was bullied mercilessly at my all boys high school. Turning up to Year 8 English class was a routine nightmare: Often one boy in the class would stake out the door waiting for the teacher while another group would hoist me up on top of a high cupboard against my will. As the teacher arrived, the scout at the door would give the signal for everyone to return to their desks so that at the precise moment that the teacher walked into the room everything looked normal in the class; except that Graham was up on top of the cupboard. The teacher was too stupid to work out what was going on, and I'd end up getting sent to the principal for more even punishment.

Childhood bullying is insidious because it can leave long-lasting scars on your mental psyche. This is a critical time of development of our brains, and if your experience of childhood or adolescence is one of powerlessness and victimization, it can program deep unconscious patterns into our minds that set us up for debilitating anxiety and depression later in life.

Childhood bullying can affect you long into your adult life.

Childhood bullying can leave mental scars that affect you long into your adult life.

Fortunately though we can recover.… Continue reading…

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How To Overcome Your Fear Of Being Seen

If you're anything like me, you feel self-conscious in front of other people. Last time I caught an airplane, I went to the front of the plane to use the toilet right behind the cockpit, and had to wait at the front because it was already occupied. I felt that rush of shame on realizing that the other passengers could see me waiting. Somehow in my head, I imagined them thinking the worst; even though they probably weren't thinking about me at all.

In situations like this I like to pretend that other people are always thinking great things like “Wow, he's awesome!” when they look at me, and while that's helpful, it hasn't entirely made the anxiety go away. One of my favorite hobbies is playing music, and it recently gave me the opportunity to confront this fear head-on.

I've been playing guitar for around 6 years now, and I can strum up a decent tune on my own or playing with friends. But I get nervous playing in public; I feel anxious and my mind wanders through a series of stressful thoughts like “I'm crap!”, “I'll mess it up”, “They (whoever is listening) won't like it”, “They won't like the song I've chosen”, “My singing sounds bad” etc etc.… Continue reading…

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How To Overcome The Fear Of Conflict

I developed an intense fear of conflict when I was young, and it has hung around with me for a long time. The fear evolved as a series of things led to each other: I used to find the fights between my parents very frightening as a kid, and never experienced any of their conflicts actually being resolved. Conflict was scary, and never seemed to have a positive outcome. My parent's anger during conflict always felt out of control and destructive to me, so I decided that anger was a bad emotion to be suppressed at all costs. Plus my religion taught me to “turn the other cheek” rather than to stand up for myself when I was being treated in ways that I didn't like. As an awkward, sensitive boy I was bullied mercilessly at my sport-oriented all-boys high school.

When we are afraid of conflict, other people can treat us like this.

When we are afraid of conflict, other people can treat us like this.

So the message I internalised was that conflict was scary and often led to me getting hurt. I developed an intense fear of conflict: Any time I was under threat or being criticised, I would collapse into sadness or be overwhelmed with fear. I didn't know how to utilise my anger to stand up for myself in times of conflict, nor had I been taught the communication skills to resolve conflict in a win/win manner that left me feeling empowered.… Continue reading…

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Are You An Angry Young Man?

Anger is one of the emotions that I have found most difficult to deal with in the past. I grew up in a house where anger was handled in ways that I found very frightening, leading me to become very afraid of conflict. This meant that I made a decision fairly early on in life that anger was a "bad" emotion that I should suppress at all costs. I became very ashamed of anybody knowing when I was angry.

I ended up internalising a lot of rage and unhappiness. I just didn't know how to let anger go and how to get it out of my system. It wasn't until the last few years that I even realised just how angry I was deep down.

I now know that anger is not "bad" emotion; it's just a signal that our needs aren't getting met. Anger provides energy for us to act assertively in situations where people are treating us in ways we don't like. If we've learned to be passive in the face of our anger, that energy gets trapped in our nervous system.

Because I have many years of internalising my anger, the situations where I would have liked to act assertively have long passed.… Continue reading…

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Learning To Swim

Eight weeks ago I finally got around to taking swimming lessons. It's something that I had been planning to do ever since moving to live near the beach 18 months ago. There are a number of reasons for this: firstly, I don't feel safe in the ocean when I'm out of my depth. Deep down I know that I'm not a confident swimmer and whenever I'm in deep water my body responds with a lot of anxiety. I figured that if I knew I could swim confidently I wouldn't get so anxious about not being able to touch the bottom.I go body boarding a lot and I feel relatively safe with the board strapped to my arm. But I get caught in rips all the time and I know that if the strap was to break or I lost the board somehow, I'd be in real trouble.

Plus I think swimming is a great exercise for overcoming deep-seated anxiety. The full immersion in the water gives gentle stimulation to our nervous system, and it's also a relatively low impact exercise. So long as you don't drown, that is.

Swimming: How hard can it be?

Swimming: How hard can it be?

The arm movement involved in swimming could also be particularly beneficial.… Continue reading…

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How To Deal With Angry Women

I get my fair share of hate mail on the Internet, which I find unpleasant but not entirely surprising. Many people aren't good at expressing their anger cleanly, and some of them choose to channel it into hate mail directed at me.

Being on the receiving end of somebody else's hostility can be stressful, so it's important to be assertive with these people to stop their stress from entering our emotional boundary.

Use assertiveness to stop other people's anger entering your emotional boundary.

Use assertiveness to stop other people's anger entering your emotional boundary.

He's an example from a few weeks ago: I got an email from a female ex-friend who I initially met through a blog I run, which began:… Continue reading…

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Sign Up For The World's Greatest Shave

Here is yet another confidence building tip fresh from my backyard. And today I want to talk to you about changing your appearance because if there's one thing that makes a big difference to our confidence it's making a big change in our appearance and then going out in the world and experiencing what happens when we do that and how other people respond to us.

So there are two events that I want to recommend that you get involved in which help raise money for charity and change your appearance at the same time which means you get to feel good about yourself for two reasons: firstly, you'll be helping other people; and, secondly, you'll be building your confidence.

Continue reading…

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How To Heal Emotional Trauma

Sumelevate Life Coach Sume Chatz recently interviewed me for his video podcast about how I work with my coaching clients to help them heal emotional trauma from the past so they can move on to a happier future.

The interview packs a heap of information into a half hour, covering topics like:

  • How family of origin issues can set you up for emotional problems down the track
  • The impact of poor communication skills on our world view as children
  • How to heal overwhelming anxiety
  • The role of the subconscious and how to work with it
  • Mindfulness and the importance of living in the present
  • What I actually do in Skype sessions with my clients
  • How to coach someone in emotional trauma
  • How to get motivated towards your goals

That's a lot of valuable information for one half hour! I recommend you check it out.

emotional traumaThe one thing I didn't mention explicitly was what exactly emotional trauma is: the emotional residue left in our brains and nervous system attached to memories of any emotionally overwhelming past event that we weren't able to fully express and release at the time.

Healing trauma is important because emotionally charged memories from the past restrict our ability to be freely self-expressed and get on with life in the present.… Continue reading…

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