Today we welcome Dr. Linda Mintle, aka, "The Common Sense Doctor." Dr. Linda makes regular appearances on the ABC Family television show Living the Life. She also has written books on weight loss, relationships, stress, and many other topics close to our hearts.
“Sure I’ll cook for the spaghetti dinner.” “Yes I can baby-sit your children for the day.” “Yes, I can chair another committee.” “Since no one else will volunteer, I guess I’ll do it.” Do you ever find yourself saying these things and then realize you’ve taken on too much? You’ve committed to doing more than you can realistically handle. As a result, you are stressed and kicking yourself for not saying no.
Too many of us take on too much because we don’t say “No”; we are afraid to speak up; don’t feel we have the right; need to please others; want to be loved for what we do; or think we have to be superwoman and do it all! Time to turn in your cape! Learn to say “No” and not feel guilty. You’ll reduce the stress in your life.
Saying “No” to things requires assertiveness. Assertiveness is behavior that falls somewhere in the middle of giving in and aggressiveness. It is not giving in to the wants of others or keeping silent and expecting people to read your mind. It is also not yelling at people and demanding your way. It is a practiced skill that helps you manage stress. Contrary to popular thought, you don’t have to be angry to be assertive. In fact, I prefer you stay calm.
There are two parts involved in being assertive: 1) know what you want 2) say it. One of the reasons we don’t practice being assertive is because we don’t know what we want. We are wishy washy, unsure, and undefined. We allow others to manipulate us in to doing things and then feel resentful because we have too much to do. Or we feel guilty and don’t believe we have the right to speak up. We ask, “Who am I to say no?”
You are someone important. You are also responsible for managing stress that comes your way. When you can do something about stress, take the initiative-speak up! Know what you want and take a reasonable position. Do not feel guilty setting limits. Reduce stress by taking control where and when you can.
Speak up and let your voice be heard. When you address problems as they occur, you won’t build up anger and hold on to things that can grow into resentment. Often times, this is the root of depression, anxiety and eating disorders. Many of my female patients have to be taught how to be assertive because it is a skill they never learned. It is also something that has to be practiced.
The benefits from speaking up are improved physical and psychological health. Your relationships will improve and you will better manage stress. In addition, you will gain respect from people. They may not like your stance, but they will respect you for taking one.
Dr. Linda is a licensed marriage and family therapist, clinical social worker, professor, author, and national speaker.