How to stand up for yourself
In life, it’s easy to feel like you don’t always have a say in how things pan out. Learning how to stand up for yourself is a key part in taking back control of a narrative that’s not unfolding how you want it to.
In our latest episode of Am I The Bleep?!, we read two posts from people who were having trouble standing up for themselves—specifically, neither wanted to act as a babysitter for their in-laws or exes. While both said no to the prospect of babysitting, neither did it in the most helpful way.
Learn more by listening to that podcast episode now… or, listen later, and take a few minutes to read through our tips on how to stand up for yourself.
How to stand up for yourself
Start with open, clear communication
When someone asks something of you, it’s okay to say no. As much as it might feel bad not to comply, you’re not a bad person for declining a request!
More importantly than saying no, however, is the fact that you need to FIRMLY say no. Many of us who have trouble standing up for ourselves end up trying to passively decline requests by making excuses, dodging answers or trying to avoid people who might ask things of us.
Unfortunately, while these tactics might work some of the time, they hardly work all of the time. If you don’t firmly communicate your desire not to fulfill a request, you’ll keep on encountering the same problematic situations over and over again, and finding other passive ways to say no will become harder with time.
Don’t be vindictive, no matter the situation
A lot of people who ask things of us can get pretty nasty about it. And sometimes, in the heat of the moment, it can feel good to behave vindictively toward those people. But think about it: will acting venomously really get you what you want?
The answer, of course, is no.
Acting vindictively toward others doesn’t actually help you stand up for yourself, because you won’t actually get the outcome you want from a situation by behaving that way. Instead, you’ll probably just end up less happy than before. Rather than solve the problem at hand, you’ll be breeding excess animosity, damaging your relationships with others and creating unnecessary stress for everyone involved.
Remember: standing up for yourself does NOT mean intentionally causing harm or engaging in retaliatory ways. Standing up for yourself means declining requests firmly and soundly while treating others as you’d want to be treated.
Equate standing up for yourself with self-care
You need to eat every day. So, too, do you need to sleep, shower, work, play, bond with friends and family, and more. Similar to these needs, think of standing up for yourself as an essential need.
When you don’t feel free to express your opinions, decline requests, take time and energy to yourself or otherwise advocate for yourself, you’re not taking care of a very real need—the need to feel autonomous, respected and important.
Just as you’d work other self-care habits into your routine, such as journaling or meditation, practice standing up for yourself at least once every day. Try it in small ways at first—say no to a work request, or express your true opinion about something to a close friend—before moving onto larger, more impactful moments of self-advocacy.
Let go of negative responses
When you start standing up for yourself, people might get angry. They might call you names or deride your decisions. And guess what? That is OKAY. In fact, while it might feel bad when you start standing up for yourself, that’s actually a sign that you’re not accepting negative behavior from others.
We have a saying on our coaching team: just because someone calls you a zucchini, it doesn’t make you a zucchini. It’s a silly way to remember that you’re not how other people see you… and it doesn’t make much sense to believe them when they try to characterize you in ways you know aren’t true.
Stand up for yourself today
Learning how to stand up for yourself is hard and takes work. We should know—from the stories we’ve heard on our podcast, there’s a lot of people out there who’ve been through a lot, and could use some helpful tips on self-advocacy.
If you want more ideas on how to stand up for yourself, head on over to our site and get in touch with a personal coach.
This week's episode: AITA for not babysitting my ex-husband’s kid?
"To bleep, or not to bleep, that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The a**holes of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of a**holes
And by opposing end them. "
Check out the original posts here if you would like to read along:
- AITA for putting out my neighbours fire with my garden hose while we’re on a fire ban?
- AITA for not babysitting my ex-husband’s kid
- AITA for getting high so my relatives don't try and pawn their children on me?