Would you like to be your own assertiveness therapist?

Would you like to be your own assertiveness therapist?

Would you like to be your own assertiveness therapist? Assertive therapy is about letting people feel comfortable saying No to other people and Yes to themselves.

A while ago I came across an old book, Manuel J. Smith’s book on Assertive Therapy. His BILL OF ASSERTIVE RIGHTS captures the essence of his whole theory. It is a famous quote, you can google it up. If you take this alone and make it your own, you will definitely become a more assertive person. How? Easy: turn the “rights” into affirmations and repeat them to yourself in every way possible, or chant them or write them on stickies! This is what I did.

The”Bill” is written in you-form, like “You have the right to X, Y.” I changed it to I-form and created a list of my own affirmations. Feel free to simplify the language or use a different language, one principle a day, 10 days for all, and repeat! It worked wonders for me and I’m sure it will do the same for you! My 10 principles of being an assertive person based on Manuel J. Smith’s Bill of Rights:

1. I have the right to evaluate my own behavior, thoughts and emotions and be responsible for the consequences

2. I have the right to not apologize or explain my behaviour

3. It is up to me to decide whether I am responsible for solving other people’s problems

4. I have the right to change my mind

5. I have the right to make mistakes and take responsibility for my mistakes

6. I have the right to say: “I do not know”

7. I have the right to not dance to other people’s beat just because they are nice to me

8. I have the right to make illogical decisions

9. I have the right to say: “I do not understand you”

10. I have the right to say: “I do not care”

And if you think 10 affirmations are too many to keep track of, take just this one and use it boldly and big time: I HAVE THE RIGHT TO SAY “NO” WITHOUT FEELING GUILTY!

There, you’ve done your own assertiveness therapy!



© 2020 Teodora Rudolph

Photo credit Arian Shkaki 2020

Mindfulness, do it your own way!

Mindfulness, do it your own way!

The buzz of mindfulness has been going around for some time. Companies and schools are picking it up and installing mindfulness programs. There are some benefits to practicing mindfulness indeed, but they seem to be hugely overrated. Contrary to bold claims that it increases happiness, there is no reliable research to back this. While mindfulness meditations do bring some benefits to clinically depressed patients, there is no big evidence it brings happiness to ordinary people.

Mindfulness is not supposed to add to your stress!

Mindfulness meditations seem to be a good gateway to some good things, such as stress relief, but only provided you do it in a way that does not actually add to your stress.  If you find yourself questioning whether you are doing your mindfulness meditation correctly, you are adding to your agitation rather than reducing it. If, on the other hand, you approach it like an accomplishment thinking how great you are for doing it, you are reinforcing narcissistic and self-consciousness tendencies that are the very thing mindfulness is supposed to relieve you from. Straining to be mindful and patting yourself on the back for doing so defeats the purpose.

Mindfulness is often associated with focus and concentration

And indeed, there is big value in being able to command one’s focus of attention among all the information noise we are flooded with. Training to fully focus on something at hand like your breath, as mindfulness teaches, is a good training wheel but why stop there? Why not let it go to better and nicer things? What better and nicer things, you may ask? How about how you will be being and feeling once you have resolved your problems? Your brain is a lovely time- and distance travel-machine, why not use it?

Mindfulness is supposed to be about the present moment 

What exactly are the benefits of the present moment? When I focus on the present moment to the exclusion of everything else, I feel like I am depriving myself of one of the advantages of human cognition: the ability to hold past and present and future simultaneously. Having a concept of the future is one of the things that are unique to humans as compared to animals. Animals don‘t plan for  future; as for the past, judging by how quickly an animal can recover from a near-death encounter with a predator and within minutes calmly graze grass again, shows that the past has no big grip on animals either. Animals are fully in the now but why should we strive for that?

To be fair, our lives are often much more fulfilling lived outside the present than in it. After all, where are you visions and goals if not in the future? And how do you build on your experiences and learnings if you are not able to hold the past against the future and compare alternative scenarios? Why shun automated actions and autopilot activities when they are in fact shortcuts to this kind of freedom of the mind that lets it go anywhere? Why banish this kind of journeys to focus on your breath?

Good things feel good

Finally, does mindfulness feel good? Because good things do. Practices that slows down your heartbeat feel relaxing. If focusing on your breath slows you down, it is a good gateway to relaxation.  But then, to some, me included, putting the body through some stress by doing physical exercises is more relaxing to both my body and mind than putting my mind on my breath. Your muscles feel more relaxed after you have tensed them than if you have not.

What is important is taking time to do things that feel good. And who is to say how this is best done? It may be a leisurely walk, it can be a nap. Somebody else’s recipes may not work for you. It is a great idea for companies and schools to schedule leisure time but mandating how is is to be spent may have the opposite effect. If mindfulness is about being mindful to your own needs, I am all for it! Do it your own way!

© 2020 Teodora Rudolph

Photo credit Gerold Guggenbühl, https://www.730andmore.com/

Afformations instead of Affirmations

Afformations instead of Affirmations

Affirmations are a big industry!

There are numerous books and recordings that echo the famous affirmation of the pharmacist Emil Coué “Every day in every way I’m getting better and better”. And affirmations do work because they trigger the placebo effect which is powerful, as extensive research over the last years has shown.

But there limits to how far an affirmation can go before it turns into wishful thinking.

In fact, there can be negative effects due to the discrepancy between the current state of affairs and the desired one. The difference between how I am feeling and how I want to be feeling can feel very bad!

Here is a better way to get into a state that feels better: some call it “afformation”!

How does it work? You ask yourself a question: Why am I so happy, loved, desirable, etc? Do not answer it!

Just seed the question in your mind, your unconscious mind will answer it! Because answers are conscious and you don’t want your conscious mind to come up with learned answers. Instead, you want your unconscious mind to go on a search for new ones. And believe me, your unconscious mind is great at this!

The question “Why?” is special too because it calls for rationalizations and justifications. You unconscious mind will come up with reasons for you to feel the way you want to feel!

Try it for yourself and let me know how it goes!


© 2020 Teodora Rudolph

Photo credit Gerold Guggenbühl, https://www.730andmore.com/

Your focus, your resource!

Your focus, your resource!

Your focus of attention is a valuable resource on a par with time and money. Even better: while time and money are finite and outside you, your focus is entirely yours and within your command. There is even a saying: Don’t manage your time, manage your focus! Time management is entirely a matter of focus management. Isn’t this empowering?

What can you do to use the resource of your focus?

You can move your focus and shift it the way you want and when you do, your world changes!

You can use your focus to examine and redefine goals!

Let’s take as an example a goal you have been pursuing, a job, a purchase or a diploma. What exactly have you been keeping your eyes on? The goal or what you think the goal would give you? Oftentimes, people get fixated on the object of their pursuit and lose sight of the benefits it promises, benefits that may well be easily within reach or already there in other ways. As it happens, the pursuit of the goal may destroy the very thing for the sake of which the person pursues the goal in the first place. For example, a hard-working man who gets so carried away with the idea of working hard to provide for the family that he ends up neglecting the family and losing it. Have you ever noticed that when people say they need A in order to be B, it is the other way round: they need B in order to have A because when they have B, A becomes a natural consequence of A or a non-issue? For example, somebody may think they need a job in order to have income, recognition and meaningful relationships. Let me ask you this: when you have income, recognition and meaningful relationships, is finding a job a problem? Likely not!

You can resolve problems you have been stuck on!

When you are stuck on a problem, chances are you have been too fixated on a perceived solution to the exclusion of other possibilities and this is how you created the problem in the first place. When you shift your focus away to a place or a time where the problem is not or cannot be, you are in the realm of the solutions. So, how about putting your focus of attention not on what is missing from your life right now, but on what you may have been missing all along! How? By shifting your focus away from where you have been keeping it. By shifting the focus to everything that is not that, by putting your focus anywhere but where it has been, you stop reinforcing the problem, its proportions change, it diminishes, resolves itself. The point I am making is that your ability to de-focus is just as valuable as the ability to focus! “What you focus on is what you get more of” is another popular saying. Focus on the problem, you reinforce it, de-focus from it, it diminishes. Both focusing and de-focusing can be trained.

Try this for yourself!

Let‘s take the idea of having a job! What is it a job can give you? I am guessing income is one of the top answers but is it the only one, or even the main one? Are you ready to do anything for a bit of money and how do you call such people who are? Do you want to be this kind of person? Who do you want to be or become instead? What are all the ways in which you already are this person? What are all the ways in which you can become this person? When you are this amazing person with an amazing life, is getting a job still a problem? Is it possible that this problem has resolved itself in the process of you becoming this amazing person?!

So de-focus from the problem and focus on becoming an amazing person instead because the solution is mostly a side-effect of you becoming and being an amazing person with an amazing life.

And most importantly, learn to budget your resources to serve you so that you achieve your goals for happiness and success.


© 2020 Teodora Rudolph

Photo credit Gerold Guggenbühl, https://www.730andmore.com/