11/02/2012 07:45 am ET Updated Jan 02, 2013

Do You Say Yes When You Mean No?

With election time almost here, we see candidates speaking their minds. Are you able to assert yourself when necessary? For example, do you say "yes" when you mean yes and "no" when you mean no? Or are you surprised when "yes" comes out of your mouth when you meant to say "no"?

Can you say what you believe and be clear about what you want?

Many of us have difficulty with this. Why is this so? Well, for one thing, when we say something controversial it might make people angry -- and if we were brought up to be nice, and not to ruffle any feathers, we may have a hard time asserting our needs. But trying to contain them only causes frustration, anger, and ultimately a lack of self-esteem -- none of which will enable us to own our power.

How do you turn this around and reclaim your true voice? Try these tips to start doing things differently.

Become aware of when you are vulnerable. Observe your communications for a day and jot down on a notepad when you've compromised your point of view. You'll be able to see how often it is happening.

Don't go on automatic. Now that you have specific examples, reflect on what you would have really wanted to say or how much you would have really wanted to give. Ask yourself: What was holding you back from saying what you really felt?

What is the price you pay? Notice how uncomfortable you feel when you don't have the courage to act on your own behalf.

Practice doing it differently. Now that you have a little more awareness, catch yourself when you are about to say something you don't really mean, and instead clarify what it is that you want. Although fear will probably rise up, it's worth the risk. You have very little to lose and only self-respect to gain.

Acknowledge yourself. Give yourself the credit you deserve when you act differently. We are so quick to be critical of ourselves when we do something wrong and gloss over our accomplishments when we do something right. Take it in and congratulate yourself for how courageous you've been.

Use a discerning lens. Over time, you will gain more insights about yourself and your behavior. This knowledge will make it easier for you to know when people are being authentic with you and when they are not.

For more by Helene Lerner, click here.

For more on emotional wellness, click here.

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