11 Little Ways To Stand Up For Yourself Every Day, No Matter What
On any given day, I'm sure you come across multiple situations where it's necessary to know how to stand up for yourself. From someone cutting in front of you at Starbucks, to your boss thinking you were late (when you so weren't), to a coworker stealing your idea in a meeting, the list is really endless. And yet how often do you stick up for yourself? Probably less often than you should.
And that's totally normal, since most of us just want to get through the day, conflict-free. Besides, it often feels really awkward to show assertiveness in these stations. Not to mention, such rudeness can dredge up some past insecurities. "People with a history of trauma are more likely to be victims of future mistreatment," says Kim Chronister, Psy.D., in an email to Bustle. When that's the case, you may find yourself acting like a doormat in a relationship, or getting passed over for opportunities at work, all because you don't feel worthy of any other type of treatment.
Of course there are many other reasons you've been feeling like a pushover, such as low self-esteem, or an bad case of extreme politeness. Whatever the case may be, it is possible to stand up for yourself more often. Here are some ways to do just that.
1. Figure Out What Assertiveness Means
If you are in the habit of letting people walk all over you, it's probably because any form of assertiveness totally freaks you out. But fear not, since being assertive isn't about being rude, mean, or pushy. In fact, assertiveness is all about asking for what you want in a manner that respects others, according to Psychology Today. Keep that in mind the next time you feel the desire to be wishy washy.
2. Practice Assertiveness All The Time
Once you realize what it means to stand up for yourself, then it's time to practice asking for what you want as often as possible. "Research now shows that it takes 66 days to form a new habit," Chronister says. "Practice asserting your needs daily for 66 days and watch it become automatic for you."
3. Be Deliberate With Your Requests
Let's say you're feeling super annoyed by your partner's messy ways. You both share an apartment, and yet he or she has totally taken over with their mess. You can either remain silent and stew for all eternity, or tell them how you feel. It can help to address the situation, and then follow up with a suggestion that can help remedy the problem. "Ask for what you want (you may need to be specific), 'Can you take on the dishes after dinner for the week?'" suggested Christy Matta, M.A., on HuffingtonPost.com. That's just enough info for them to know how to change, without you seeming demanding. It's really a win win.
4. Choose The Right Time To Chat
Got something on your mind? Don't march into your boss' office when they're clearly busy, or try to talk to your partner the moment they get home from work. Save what you have to say for the perfect moment, when that person will be more likely (and able) to listen. According to Matta, it's helpful to ask something like, "I want to talk, is this a good time?" Once you have their full attention, go ahead and say your piece.
5. Don't Be Afraid To Be Selfish
There are only so many hours in a day, and filling them up with the schedules, hopes, and dreams of others may seem like the sweet thing to do. And yet it can often leave you feeling worn out and resentful. "There's nothing wrong with being generous in sharing your time and your happiness with others," said Lauren Martin on EliteDaily.com. "However, there is a problem when you find yourself giving more happiness to others than you keep for yourself." Learn to be more selfish, and stand up for your right to have time alone.
6. And Don't Be Afraid To Say No
In order to do tip #5, you're going to have to learn how to say no. Again, this is probably another huge issue for you (as it is for many people), and yet saying "no" is a life skill worth learning. It can help to switch up your opinion towards the word, from negative to positive. "Saying no isn't rude or stubborn, it's the sign of a strong person," Martin said. Start practicing this one, as well, and it should become easier.
7. Be Aware Of Your Body Language
If you have trouble standing up for yourself, it can help to fake some confidence with your 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. It really can work wonders.
8. Never Let Things Go Unsaid
Shyness can get the best of you, especially in social situations that may require you to respond quickly. Think about that time your friend blurted out your deepest secret, or a coworker spoke over you in a meeting. In shocking moments like this, it can be helpful to do two things. "Number one, try to be very brief and steer the conversation in another direction. Number two is to follow up with that individual," said etiquette coach Eliane Swann in an article on HuffingtonPost.com. In doing so, you're remaining cool in the moment, but not letting the rudeness slide.
9. Avoid Blurting Out Excuses
A good way to undermine your new cool, assertive ways is to follow up with a string of excuses. "Say no to unreasonable demands and offer an explanation, if it is appropriate," noted Madeline Vann, MPH, on EverdayHealth.com. "There is no need to apologize or offer excuses." Simply say no, and then resist to continue talking.
10. Remember That You Deserve Respect
Since there's a very close connection between doormat tendencies and low self-esteem, it can help to remind yourself that no one has the right to ignore you, be rude, or deny your feelings. "Assure yourself that — without your consent — no one has the authority to invalidate you," said Leon F. Seltzer, Ph.D., on Psychology Today.
11. Practice What You'll Say Ahead Of Time
Clearly, practice makes perfect when it comes to standing up for yourself. And that goes for practicing assertiveness ahead of time, as well. Think of a scenario, like someone cutting in front of you in line for coffee, and imagine how you'd deal with the situation. Would you confront the person, or let it slide? Figure out what feels right for you, and then follow through the next time such a situation arises.
Standing up for yourself doesn't mean being a rude tyrant. There's definitely a happy medium between aggressiveness and assertiveness. With a little practice, I'm sure you can figure out that perfect balance, and successfully stand up for yourself.
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