We encounter a thousand situations in a day that require us to stick up for ourselves. Still, it can be hard for some of us to tap into that backbone and stand our ground. How often do you actually stand up for yourself? Probably less than you should.
Most of us try to get through our day-to-day lives as conflict free as possible — and that’s great — but it can also mean getting walked over. It can feel really awkward to assert ourselves in certain situations, and being caught in tense situations can drudge up painful memories and insecurities.
“People with a history of trauma are more likely to be victims of future mistreatment,” says Kim Chronister, Psy.D. to Bustle Magazine. It’s these types of traumas that lead us into mistreatment at work and in relationships alike.
So, if you’re feeling like a pushover or just feel like you need a little extra boost of self-esteem, check out these 10 simple ways to stand up for yourself every day.
The 10 Best Ways to Stick Up for Yourself Every Day
1. Figure out what sticking up for yourself means to you.
If you’re a really passive person, then you’ll need to take a second or two to figure out what being assertive looks like to you.
Being assertive doesn’t mean that you need to fist fight every person that looks at you wrong. Taking a stand can be as simple as saying “no” when you’re tired or simply refusing to listen to someone who disregards you. Take a few seconds to define what assertiveness is to you and then you can make a plan to stick up for yourself.
2. Be okay with a little selfishness.
The fact of the matter is we only have so many hours in a day. Though it might seem kind to fill those hours doing things for other people, it’s imperative to look after yourself.
Taking care of others too much can leave you feeling tired and resentful. It’s great to help others, but there’s a serious problem when you give away more happiness than you keep for yourself. Don’t be afraid to say no and take that “me time”.
3. Speak deliberately and with intention.
If your roommate makes a mess and leaves it behind, what’s the best way to address it? Should you tell your roommate how you feel or just stay quiet and simmer?
Odds are, you know the right thing to do. You should speak to your roommate and address the situation before it spins out of control and causes more frustrations. Don’t be demanding, but speak deliberately and with intention. Let those around you know what you need and don’t be afraid to voice that in the appropriate time and space.
4. Count to 10 before you speak.
Great, you’re speaking deliberately now. That doesn’t mean you get to march into your bosses office right this second and give him the old “what for”.
When it comes time to confront an issue, take a step back and count to 10 before charging in. Save what you need to say until it’s the perfect moment — when you are calm and the other person is most likely to respond positively. Find the right time to address your issues and make sure you’re prepared to do so before marching into battle.
5. Make “no” your favorite word.
Okay, that might be a little strong, but the point stands. If you want to stick up for yourself more effectively, you need to come to love the word “no”.
Saying no to things you don’t have time for or things you don’t want to do is an issue for a lot of people. Still, it’s one of the most important life skills we can master. Turning down things you don’t feel equipped to cope with or things you just don’t have time for isn’t rude or stubborn — it’s self-care and the sign of a strong person.
If you learn to say no, you’ll find your perceptions changing entirely and before long you’ll see “no” as a positive, not a negative.
6. Avoid excuses.
So, you’ve practiced saying no and you know exactly how you want to stand up for yourself. Then, an unpleasant request comes in and you spit out a slew of excuses…
There’s nothing that can undermine assertiveness and a sense of confidence like excuses. Everyone knows that it’s an excuse. You know it’s an excuse. They know it’s an excuse. It’s a weird lie that hangs in the open and makes everyone feel bad so just avoid it altogether.
If don’t want to do something or you just can’t, say “no” and then leave it at that. You don’t owe anyone anything and that includes excuses or justifiable reasons.
7. Practice your words ahead of time.
Monday morning is creeping up and you just know you’re going to have to address that thing with the boss. Practice what you’ll say ahead of time.
By preparing, you’ll be able to ease yourself into an easy sense of confidence. You’ll also be able to prepare for any potential outcomes and prep your responses, be they negative or positive.
8. Remember: you deserve as much respect as anyone else.
People that are pushovers often have one thing in common: low self esteem. Remind yourself that you’re just as talented, as wonderful, as deserving as anyone else. Just like your neighbor or partner deserves respect, you deserve respect. No one has the right to be rude to you, ignore you, or dismiss your feelings — no matter what they might think. “Assure yourself that — without your consent — no one has the authority to invalidate you,” said Leon F. Seltzer, Ph.D., on Psychology Today.
9. Master the art of body language.
If you’re not quite ready to speak up for yourself vocally, try mastering the art of body language. “Stand up straight, breath deeply, look at the people you’re speaking to, get centered over your feet, rest your hands at your sides or gesture to make a point: in other words, let your body convey your confidence in who you are and what you have to say,” said Erika Andersen on Forbes.
By just presenting yourself as more confident or assertive, 9/10 times, you can avoid that confrontation all together. I say it all the time, and I’ll say it again: fake it ’til you make it.
10. Don’t leave it unsaid.
When we are shy or just don’t feel confident, we can really steer away from saying the things we need to say most. This year, make a commitment to speaking your truth and never leaving the important things unsaid. If someone has hurt you — tell them (civilly). If you think that you’ve been wronged in a situation, address the person you think has wronged you or disregarded you.
If you want to stick up for yourself you need to find your voice. Whether it’s a whimper, a wail or a scream — speak your truth respectfully.
Putting it all together…
Being assertive and standing up for yourself doesn’t mean being rude. It doesn’t mean being a tyrant or being aggressive. Standing up for yourself is simply having confidence in the authenticity of your feelings and the validity of your worth. So, stand up straight and speak up when it matters. You’ll find yourself feeling a little braver each time you do.
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