6 tips for standing up for yourself

Did you know there’s an art to standing up for yourself?

Successfully learning and applying this life skill, doesn’t have to be stressful, nor does it have to create conflict or be done in an aggressive manner. Rather it is a matter-of-fact way of calmly ensuring that those around you respect your worth and your boundaries, and that you also honour your self-worth and your boundaries.

But why should you stand up for yourself?

Well, it’s important for those around you to know where your boundaries lie so they can respect and honour them, otherwise you’ll end up feeling walked over, taken advantage of, disrespected.

You can’t expect those around you, even loved ones, to telepathically understand where you stand, how you feel about certain things, how they should treat you unless you tell them. And standing up for yourself is a calm, authoritative and loving way to do just that.

It’s all well and good inviting you to better stand up for yourself, however, if you’re a sensitive soul or, indeed, an empath, it’ll be something that’s easier said than done because you’re probably so used to placing the needs of others before yourself. However, as you can read here, standing up for yourself isn’t about being mean, it’s about being honourable to yourself and those around you.

So why do so many people struggle to stand up for themselves?

Well, there can be a whole variety of reasons why.

More often than not, it’s something that you can link back to childhood. Perhaps your parents were strict and you had house rules you had to follow or face the consequences. Or perhaps you were taught not to speak back to others, especially adults. Or perhaps you lived under the shadow of “children should be seen and not heard” adage. All of these examples, and more besides, may have meant you were (and still are) less inclined to use your voice, to speak up.

Or perhaps you grew up with low self-esteem because your voice wasn’t heard or what you had to say wasn’t taken seriously by those around you.

Or perhaps you have a fear of confrontation, like me. I grew up in a household where there were no arguments. You might think that sounds like a dream childhood, but it left me unable to put my point of view across and has created a crippling fear of confrontation for me.

The thing is by not standing up for yourself, you’re teaching those around you to not show you the respect you deserve because you’re not telling them where your boundaries lie. You’re basically telling them, “I have no self-worth and no boundaries, treat me as you wish.” And that’s not okay.

When you start standing up for yourself and speaking up for yourself, naturally you’ll feel nervous and anxious. However, through time and with practice, you’ll also see positive changes in yourself: your confidence will grow, you’ll feel happier with your life, your relationships will improve, and life, in general, will just be better.

So how do you stand up and speak up for yourself?

The first piece of advice I can give you may seem too obvious. But if I don’t mention it, chances are you won’t consider it. After all, if you’re reading this, standing up for yourself is probably something that will feel alien to you.

Like any new skill you learn in life, you won’t accomplish it and feel comfortable and confident with it after the first time. Indeed, quite the contrary. The first time you practice standing up for yourself, you might feel anxious, nauseous, scared.

That’s why it’s so important to practice this new life skill whenever and wherever the opportunity presents itself.

You may choose to practice speaking up rather than standing up for yourself to get into the practice of using your voice. For example, if you among friends and they’re having a discussion over something trivial, practice voicing your opinion rather than staying quiet. The more you practice speaking up in lighter discussions, the more you’ll get used to using and hearing your voice and opinion so you can start to speak up in more contentious debates and, eventually, stand up for yourself when wishing to establish a boundary for someone.

You’re sitting there amongst a group of people who are discussing something and you have an opinion you’d like to share. You’re still new at practicing speaking up and standing up for yourself, so it’s taking a while to build up the courage to open your mouth and let your thoughts come out. Your hands might be sweaty, your heart might be racing, and you’re desperately trying to work out exactly what to say in your head before you let the words escape through your mouth. Then, when you buck up the courage to speak, you blurt the words out in a panic so quickly.

Sound familiar?

When you speak up and stand up for yourself, it’s better to do so in a calm and composed manner as those around you will, not only be able to understand what you say, but will pay more respect to your words because you are sharing them in a calm fashion.

Remember, you don’t have to respond to anything anyone says or does in the moment. As you practice standing up for yourself, you’ll find that you can address something in the moment. But until you get to that stage, remember, you can bring the subject up again after the moment when you’re feeling calm and have formulated in your head what you need to say. And remember… breathe. What you have to say is important and should be heard.

When you speak up and stand up for yourself, you want people to heed what you say and act accordingly. For example, when you stand up to someone who’s crossed a boundary, you want them to understand what that boundary is, where it lies and respect it (and you) going forward.

Speaking calmly and assertively from a place of love is one way to do this.

However, when you corroborate your words with your body language, you’re strengthening the message you are giving.

Where mumbling doesn’t give impact to your words, slouching doesn’t give impact to your stance. Show confidence by standing straight and maintaining eye contact as you speak.

Speaking up and standing up for yourself is tough and for someone who doesn’t do this or for whom this is a new life skill to be learned, there is the tendency to include a statement where they stand up for themselves with an apology. Something like, “I’m sorry, but…” Including an apology when you are standing up for yourself, weakens the impact. And when the impact is weak, the person you are talking to will be less likely to respect your wishes going forward.

Remember, you can be firm and assertive, and polite and considerate at the same time. But there is no room for apologies. You should never feel the need to apologise for who you are or for your sense of self-worth.

Standing up for yourself and setting boundaries tend to go hand in hand. It’s often when someone has crossed a boundary that you need to stand up for yourself and let them know what boundary they’ve crossed, how, and where that boundary lies.

Whether it’s a boundary they’ve crossed many-a-time and you’ve never spoken up about it before or whether it’s a boundary they’ve crossed for the first time, when you stand up for yourself, it’s not necessarily a one-time thing.

Should they cross the boundary another time, it’s important for you to stand up for yourself again. If you don’t you’re sending out the message that you have little self-worth and self-respect. And if you don’t see yourself as worthy and deserving of respect, why should they?

As sensitive souls and empaths, standing up for yourself can feel selfish because we have the tendency, albeit misguided, to put everyone’s needs before our own.

If you struggle to stand up for yourself, remember that it’s not just about you, that you won’t be the only one who will gain from your new-found life skill.

Standing up for yourself shows others that you see yourself worthy and deserving of respect. It helps you establish and maintain boundaries.

But not only does it benefit you, it benefits those around you.

When you stand up for yourself, those around you will reflect the same worth and respect you show yourself through their actions towards you. When you stand up for yourself and others are respectful of where you stand, you’ll feel happier in life. And when you’re happier, those around you will also feel happier. And when you stand up for yourself, you’ll find that your relationships improve because everyone involved knows where you stand and where your boundaries lie.

Are you ready to grow your sense of self-worth and confidence? Are you ready to enjoy a happier life? Are you ready to enrich your relationships? If you are, then you’re ready to practice standing up for yourself.

Viv xx