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How To Stand Up For Yourself And Live Your Best Life Now

Every day you're faced with situations that serve you well because you assert yourself in a positive way or diminish you because you hesitate to voice your views or desires.

Maybe you feel too shy or uncomfortable to say what you think or feel, and you long to be confident enough to speak up.

Or maybe you believe others will see you as rude or controlling when you stand up for yourself.

It may seem easier to take a back seat and go with the flow to avoid potential conflict, but the truth is that relinquishing all of the power to others can cause you increased feelings of stress and anxiety.

If you're a “people-pleaser,” you might believe that acquiescing to others is a kind or noble thing to do.

But people pleasers often get used and manipulated by those they want to help or impress.

This may even decrease your feelings of self-worth and make you feel more insecure.

It is important to stand up for yourself — even if it feels uncomfortable at first — because it allows you to take full control of your life and strengthen your confidence.

The stronger you allow yourself to feel, the stronger you will be, and other people will see that. Those around you will respect your boundaries and respect you. If they don't, they aren't the right people to surround yourself with.

You can easily stand up for yourself without being rude or hurtful. You can be polite while still being firm and remain calm while asking for what you want.

You don't need to get angry or undermine your emotional intelligence when you're standing up for yourself.

Simply trust your instincts and be clear about what you want to happen. If you find that you are starting to feel angry or anxious, take a step back and refocus on what you really want so you can gain control of the situation again.

If you're a people pleaser, have low self-esteem, or social anxiety, you may have a harder time learning this skill. But having these challenges should not stop you from living the life you want and deserve.

You can learn new mindsets and new ways of responding to others so you get what you want and need.

Here's how to stand up for yourself to live life on your terms:

Take The First Steps

Start Small

If you are having a hard time standing up for yourself, start with small steps. You don't have to immediately become a warrior who demands respect from everyone who walks by.

Even if you just begin walking with more confidence, holding your head up, and putting your shoulders back, you will look and feel more confident.

Put a smile on your face and speak to the people around you. Channel this feeling of confidence when you are dealing with other people. Keep up the powerful and positive attitude.

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Believe in Yourself

Believing in your own worthiness will give you the confidence you need to stand up for yourself.

Your confidence comes from within, so determine what makes you feel great about yourself. Learn a new skill, get healthy, repeat positive affirmations each morning– doing these things will help your confidence grow in time.

Part of believing in yourself requires you to set goals for yourself to determine what you truly want and to prevent others from taking advantage of you.

Once you define and achieve your goals, you'll see how much you can accomplish. Eventually, your goals will become bigger and bigger, and you will keep surprising yourself at how much you can do.

This confidence will help you advocate for yourself because you will know your worth.

Man sitting on rock, how to stand up for yourself

Be Transparent and Genuine

This may not always be easy, but if you can learn how to voice your opinions openly and honestly, you will feel a weight lifted off your shoulders.

Keep in mind that you'll need to be specific, objective, and have a solution in mind.

Always approach the person you need to talk to with action steps to solve the issue at hand rather than presenting the problem and expecting the other person to find a solution.

Simple Self-Confidence

This takes practice, but learning to be genuine about what you are thinking is the first step to standing up for yourself.

Once you create the habit of making yourself heard without becoming defensive or trying to accommodate everyone else, people will be more willing to listen to you.

Stand Up For Yourself Without Being Rude

Be Assertive

Being assertive does not mean you need to be rude. It just allows you to let other people know what you want or need in a way that conveys the message clearly and with conviction.

Being assertive requires you to be open and honest while working towards a mutually agreed upon solution.

When you are asserting yourself, use “I” statements rather than “You” statements.

For example, say “I feel disrespected when you walk away from a discussion.” Using “I” statements is less accusatory than starting sentences with “You” and will prevent the other person from becoming defensive.

An “I” statement is a type of communication that puts the focus on your feelings or beliefs rather than your thoughts or feelings about the listener.

Being assertive does not mean you are being aggressive. Aggressive people act like their needs are more important than other people's needs.

This comes across like you don't care about the other person at all. When you are assertive, you can still be respectful. Assertiveness is a learned skill, so it is ok if it doesn't happen overnight.

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Clarify Without Attacking

It may be tempting to get defensive if you know you are right about something. However, it is important to take emotions out of your reactions.

Instead, take a moment to stop and a take a deep breath. Ask the other person for clarification to ensure you understand his or her meaning and then calmly explaining your perspective.

Avoid being combative or accusatory. Speak clearly about what you mean and take the time to listen to the other person's response. Doing this will allow a real discussion to take place.

Fake It ‘Til You Make It

Sometimes you have to fake it until you make it. It will take some time to become comfortable with asserting yourself. While you are getting used to doing this, it could help to pretend you are an actor who is playing a new role.

Pretend that you are the most confident and assertive person that you know. Consider how that person might handle themselves in a tough situation.

Simple Self-Confidence

Learning how to stand up for yourself will take practice until you find the right balance.

Teach People How to Treat You

Take a minute to think about the times you may stay silent instead of speaking up and taking a stand for yourself in your relationships.

Or what about times when you tolerate being treated in a way that makes you feel hurt or undervalued?

These moments may not seem to be serious in hindsight, but these encounters teach other people how to treat you.

Use these situations as an opportunity to teach people that you are not someone to be used or bullied. Remember that, ultimately, you get the treatment that you tolerate.

Woman alone, how to stand up for yourself

How To Stand Up For Yourself At Work

Show That You Have Flexibility

Think about it, if you are trying to negotiate with someone, wouldn't you be more willing to work with them if they were flexible? This is important to remember when you are having a debate at work.

People become less defensive when they are presented with several options because it allows them to create a balance of needs.

When someone lowers their defenses, they are more likely to listen to what you need, agree with your reasoning, and will be more likely to accept what you're saying.

Don't Allow Anyone to Invalidate You

If you're open to listening to other people, you should expect the same in return. If someone at work is being disrespectful or brushing you off, they are likely making you feel like your thoughts are not valid.

Even if someone is in an authority position, if they are invalidating you, it may be a power play.

If anyone at work is acting like a bully, you should respond with confidence, even if you don't feel completely secure. Standing up for yourself in this way is often enough to deter someone who wants to find a victim.

You are in control of your emotions and actions. No one can tell you how you feel or negate your opinions.

But remember, if you try to invalidate someone else’s points of view, you will sabotage any chances you have for solving a problem or having an open discussion.

Advocate for Yourself

Part of standing up for yourself at work is being your own advocate. You can start the process by requesting a meeting with the person who you are having an issue with.

Mention that you want to discuss the issue at hand and how you can better work together. Set a time without distractions for a face-to-face meeting.

During the meeting, stay calm, focused, and put your emotions aside. Keep the focus of the conversation on exactly what you need instead of blaming or criticizing other people. Engage with the other person to problem solve as a team.

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Be Deliberate

Have you ever found yourself in a situation at work where you are sharing space with someone who is messy or makes too much noise when you are trying to concentrate?

You may have stayed quiet for a long time while growing increasingly aggravated with the situation.

While it could be tempting to become passive-aggressive by doing things like angrily cleaning up behind your co-worker or making snide comments, instead try to be deliberate in your actions.

Tell your co-worker exactly how you feel without accusing them of anything.

Be straightforward about any concerns you have and finish by offering a simple suggestion that could fix the problem, such as: “If you could listen to your music through headphones, I would have an easier time concentrating on my work.”

Co-workers talking, how to stand up for yourself

Take Control of Your Time

Your time is both precious and limited, but you may feel pressured to spend it in ways that don't benefit you.

Remember that you always have the option to say no. Of course, there may be times when you are faced with high-priority tasks that need your time right away, but don't let your obligations completely dictate how you spend all of your time.

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Remember that you are in control, and you can push back when you need to or even tactfully move away from people or situations that take over your schedule.

Once you figure out the best ways to mindfully stand up for yourself, you will increase your chances of getting what you want and need.

Your words will have more weight, and you'll command the attention of other people. The more you practice standing up for yourself, the more naturally confident and self-assured you'll feel.

It will be easier to treat other people with respect while still showing you require being treated with respect as well.

  • Michael Bonnell

    I love this post. Often times, we confine to the image of others to the point where we forget to be different and to be ourselves. We need to believe in ourselves and understand that we can do anything that we set our minds to. It wont be easy, but nothing worth having in life ever comes easy.

  • Ben K.

    Great post, thank you.

    I especially agree with the “believe in yourself” in connection with the “fake it until you make it” part. Standing up for yourself ultimately comes down to self-confidence. But as long as you struggle with it, try faking it until at some point it does becomes a natural and real part of you. It takes time, but it’s definitely worth it!

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