Before you put new behaviours into place, it is good practice to monitor your current thinking. You can do this through what psychologists call self-monitoring.
Firstly, take a step back in your awareness, so that you are not only aware, but are also aware of being aware. This is the state of mind from which you can take note of what is happening in a situation.
For instance, you might want to become more assertive. Through self-monitoring, take note of how you behave in a situation where greater assertiveness is needed. Observe what others say, what you say, how you feel, how you think others may feel, and what behaviours and outcomes result. Once you observe and understand what is happening, you can take steps the next time a similar occasion occurs to put your new behaviour into place.
If you have the desire to become more assertive, this new behaviour is likely to mean that you have to say “No” more often. So as you go about your day, keep in the back of your mind that you should be looking for opportunities when you think it would be easiest to say “No”. When such a situation arises, say “No” at the appropriate time and in the present moment, and then watch what happens.
It is likely that the other person will accept your response and that you will feel good about being able to say “No” in such a situation. The first time you do this, it might feel a bit weird or scary, but it becomes easier each time you’re able to do it. Work your way up from easier situations to those which are harder. It can be helpful to prepare in advance what you might say before each situation arises, so that you can pull the words out of your head without having to think too much.
You might also want to say more than just “No”. You might be assertive enough to say something like, “I want to plan what we’ll do”, or if you can’t bring yourself to say “No” immediately, then say something like, “Sorry I can’t do it then. Maybe we can do something later, or next week.”
Part of the art of being assertive is to be up front, but taking both your and others’ needs into account.
Practising and Journaling
Each time you practise being assertive, self-monitor so that you can change within the situation, by working out whether you need to say something further, or to make a gesture that will help the outcome to be positive.
It may be good to journal the situation you are monitoring so that you have a record of how you are progressing with your behaviour change. Self-monitoring and journaling can help to clarify progress and keep you motivated. Later on, you can look back at your journaling and see how far you have come in your journey of self-change.