There is a lot about military life that is decided for you: from where you live, how often you move, the jobs your spouse has, and more. Many times it can feel like you have no control over anything. This can be quite upsetting and frustrating. But as a military spouse or significant other, there is one thing in your life you do have full control over—your wellness.
You put your career, boss, clients, and business ahead of your sleep and sanity, take care of your significant others and children, and only really focus on yourself if everything else is done. You also organize all PCS paperwork and logistics, deal with deployment separation, emotions, and reintegration, and starting over, all while thinking you need to put everything above yourself again.
BELIEVE IN YOURSELF
Low self-esteem can prevent you from telling others what you want. When you begin to really value your self-worth, you will have an easier time communicating your needs. Worrying about the opinions of others can stand in the way of being honest with yourself and others. Being assertive is a clear sign of self-respect.
Whether you want a raise, a promotion, or to simply affect positive change in your life, finding the voice to ask for and get what you want can be hard. It requires assertiveness. Becoming an assertive person takes a little practice, but it’s a key communication skill that can make you more self-confident and result in a more fulfilling life.
Assertive behavior in regard to wellness is a learned skill, and it can take time. But it is worth it and makes a difference in your wellness journey, propelling you in the direction you want. Here are five tips for making assertiveness a bigger part of your life:
Learn how to say “no.” Often, people are reluctant to say “no” to others in order to be people-pleasers, even if saying “yes” creates an inconvenience for them. Whether it’s taking on a colleague’s extra work or watching a friend’s dog, helping others makes people feel good. But it’s important to recognize when your life needs to take priority over helping someone out. If you have a lot on your plate already and you can’t take on more at the moment, simply say no. It’s an empowering feeling and you can offer help at a time that works better for you.
Start small. If you’re having a hard time finding your assertive voice, begin with small things. Perhaps you need some time to get a daily walk in, but you have kids, which complicates the matter. Start by communicating your needs with your partner and put a thirty-minute block of time for you on the calendar. Begin to practice daily rituals of putting yourself first.
Be simple and direct. Don’t leave room for misinterpretation. Assertiveness is effective because it is straight to the point. Tell the other person how you’re feeling using the pronoun “I”—as in “I feel” or “I think.” Beginning with “you” presumes to know what the other side is feeling and comes across as a more aggressive communication style.
Remember your body language. Your words are only one part of how you’re communicating with others. Your body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions contribute to your message. Stand up tall and make eye contact, which are the two key attributes of a confident person.
Stand your ground. If you don’t get what you want the first time you ask, don’t give up. The person might not respond the way you hoped the first time, but they might simply need time to process what you want. It’s easy to back down from your original message because you feel like a broken record. But remember, you are worth it.
Everyone wants to feel their best, but it’s easy to put your wellness at the end of your to-do list. Once you make yourself a priority and are more assertive with your needs and wants, you’ll make time for your wellness and start feeling better and better each day. It’s important to put yourself first so that you can be your best for yourself and those you care about.
Noralee Jones is a military spouse of twelve years, mom of four, and strong advocate for self-care. Having experiences with seven deployments, four solo PCS moves, authoring the Self-Care Guide for MILSOs, she is an expert on the importance of taking time to focus on filling your body, mind, and soul with your individual needs in order to make the most out of your life. Because, as we all know, you can’t pour from an empty cup.