Standing up for yourself is one of those things that sound cool, but doesn’t always feel cool to do. For me, I’ve felt a lot of anxiety when it comes to moments where I need to speak up about how I’m feeling. But over the years I’ve learned how important it is to stand up for myself. Not only in personal situations, but in intimate, professional and pretty much all situations.
For me, standing up for myself is about being confident in what I want. It’s about having the ability communicative my wants and needs, without being scared to ask for it. I know it sounds simple, (even though it definitely is not), but standing up for yourself isn’t a choice.
It’s a necessity.
For every person, especially for us women in the room, it is imperative we learn to be confident in not only who we are, but also in owning up to the things we don’t want happening either around us or in our lives.
Don’t get me wrong, some things are merely just out of our control. But there are certain things we are in control of and we have to own that.
Standing up for yourself will also look different for different people. A simple example can be letting a person know a joke that they think is funny, isn’t funny to you, for whatever that reason is. It may be asking for the raise at work you know you deserve, but are worried you won’t get or will be passed over for. Or it can be a little more intense, like ending a cycle of disrespect in a particular relationship that is no longer fulfilling or joyous.
Whatever it is, knowing how to stand up for yourself can be hard, but there are a few steps you can take to make it a bit easier. Hopefully these can help you uncover the strength you have to stand up for yourself, in any situation.
In order to properly stand up for yourself, you need to be honest with yourself about what will and what won’t work for you. This will be different for each person but it’s important you get familiar with the things that won’t make you happy at the very least.
This is absolutely the foundation of standing up for yourself.
If you’re not honest with yourself, you’ll always teeter back and forth with standing up for yourself. You also won’t be able to consistently communicate your boundaries, which can become a very slippery slope.
Related Post: 6 Reasons Why You Need to Establish Boundaries
I’m going to go with a sports example since that’s the first thing that comes to mind. I grew up playing sports and there were plenty of times I was yelled at by coaches (both in basketball and when I ran track). For the most part it was never disrespectful or acutely aggressive, but it didn’t always work for me like it did for my teammates. Call me sensitive Sally, but yelling doesn’t really make me do anything, but instantly shut down.
My coach was doing 1:1’s with us and asked us what method of coaching would work for each of us, because they know each player was different. I was really scared to speak and tell them that yelling wouldn’t help me, especially because for some of the other girls it did. I didn’t feel confident enough in my ability to speak up with coaches I’ve known for years. The only thing i felt was fear.
But I did speak up. And it wasn’t nearly as hard as I originally thought!
By speaking up, I was able to communicate what I needed in a coaching style that would ultimately push me to be more successful. I’m definitely not saying it was easy, (I still get nervous thinking about it more than a decade later!), but it was necessary for me be honest about my needs and talk it through and through.
That brings me to the importance of communication. It is extremely important that you communicate what doesn’t work for you. I know we like to assume that “people should know“, but the truth is, most of us do not know when we are doing something that is not okay for someone else. We are human and sometimes we need a little reminder (me included).
Be open to communicating your wants and needs, in any capacity. If you’re unsure how to start, maybe try doing this with a friend or partner. Someone you trust. Express what is working for you and express what is not working with you.
This type of practice can help you learn how it feels to stand up for yourself. It’s not about being mean or argumentative, but instead it’s about using your words to express how you feel in a manner that prioritizes yourself. We often neglect ourselves in the pursuit of keeping the peace, and forget that we may need to communicate how to get that for ourselves.
Don’t Run From Confrontation
I know sometimes it can be tricky to stand up for yourself, especially when we have to consider someone else’s reaction. But honestly, what they may or may not do, is not on you. You’re in complete control of when and how you communicate, but you’re not responsible for how someone reacts to this.
This doesn’t mean you should be starting fights or issues everywhere you go (that is just unpleasant for everyone involved). Instead, you should embrace the fact that standing up for yourself may not always be a peachy conversation.
It’s more about being open to conversations potentially going sideways, but being hopeful that the people you’re communicating with, will understand and respect how you stand up for yourself.
You can prepare for confrontation without avoiding it! I know it may be seem damn near impossible, but trust me, it’s usually never as bad as we think it’ll be. And no matter what, it’s just one moment, and this too shall pass!
Yes, I purposely typed a period because no is a complete sentence! It’s okay to also simply say no to things. I know for me, this one was and continues to be a real struggle. Sometimes I’m scared of saying no and it gives me real anxiety. My chest gets tight and my mind races…all of that not so good stuff.
But after some practice, I realized that it gets easier and easier. And it will for you as well.
It’s okay to decline that invitation. It’s okay to say you don’t want to do something that everyone else around you wants to do. And it’s okay to say no to whatever you don’t want to do or participate in. I swear!
I think as women we really struggle with this because we want to be polite. We don’t want to come off as difficult or rude, but in reality that is not the case. Saying no, is just that. An answer to a question or situation. Nothing else, nothing more.
It also gives you the power to gently stand up for yourself. It doesn’t require a big serious conversation but is a great step in learning how to follow what you want and don’t want to happen.
Use I Feel Statements
Something that my therapist really helped me uncover, was how poorly I was communicating my needs to the people in my life. At times, I was getting so caught up in how to say something or the anxious feelings that came up inside of me, that I would avoid standing up for myself altogether.
Yep, I was avoiding what i thought was confrontation, but were really moments for me to stand up for myself.
To make this easier, she taught me a simple practice of using “I feel…” statements. Sounds really simple but man it really changed my life. This helped me reduce my anxiety around these conversations which made things a whole lot better.
It made me relax and realize that standing up for yourself is about communicating how someone or something made you feel. Hopefully it will be less daunting because it’s not coming from an aggressive or accusatory state, but instead it’s coming from you owning how you feel openly and honestly.
This may not work for every situation, but it’s a great way to start thinking through how you can form the sentences. Start with how you feel and what you’re looking to get in order to feel differently. Usually people will be receptive to this!
Put Someone Else In Your Shoes
Often times we are so ready to speak up for someone else, we often don’t realize how we lack that same energy for ourselves!
I’ve been there. I’ve seen and heard things that made my skin crawl and forced me to instantly speak up on someone else’s behalf (even without their permission which I don’t always advise). While my intentions were good, I realize now that I should have been doing that a lot more for myself.
When you get the feeling to stand up for yourself, but find it hard or debilitating, try to think of someone else in your shoes. If it was your best friend, or your sister in the same situation, what’s the advice you’d give them?
Or if you have the option of speaking on their behalf, what would you say?
This can help jump start the conversation for you, and hopefully be a reminder that you have to be your biggest advocate, because no one else will be. If you can speak up for other people, you can definitely speak up and stand up for yourself.
Standing up for yourself can feel good. And I mean really good. It can be liberating and powerful. Don’t ruin it by apologizing for doing so. Trust me, there is no apology needed!
If you are communicating what doesn’t work for you, especially at the right time and in a calm manner, you shouldn’t have to apologize for feeling that way or for speaking up. Be confident in standing up for yourself.
Over-apologizing isn’t just saying “sorry” more times than you need to. It can also be inserting an apology when one isn’t needed. We do it so much sometimes without realizing it, especially in our relationships. Don’t let this be that moment for you.
Instead, allow the moment to be one where you can see your confidence play out in front of you. This is your opportunity to stand up in your wants and needs and be proud that you at least asked for it.
Standing up for yourself is hard work, but in life it has to be done and you will be able to do it without apologizing for it!
It’s also a great way to boost your self-awareness and your self-confidence. Standing up for yourself is really about honoring what are things you want to see in your life and putting a stop to the things that are not okay for you.
It’s also remembering that you are in charge of your life and how you want it to go. You don’t have to continuously put up with things that hurt you or cause you discomfort. It’s scary, daunting and all of the above, but it’s very worth the end result. No matter what happens, remember that no one will do a better job at this for you, than you.
Take some time to reflect and think of a time when you should have or were able to stand up for yourself. Regardless of the reaction or response, how did it make you feel?