Do you stand up for yourself?

Do you think you stand up for yourself? What does that actually mean? It is often said that we dictate how others treat us. In psychology terms, this is referred to as Personal Boundaries. If someone is a doormat, they will have “weak boundaries”. What this suggests, is that you are likely to a pleasant and amiable person, who is somewhat underdeveloped in the area of “pushing back” against those who aren’t respectful of your personal space.
Standing up for yourself is about being assertive. Unfortunately, many people seem to think that this comes hand in hand with being aggressive. This is not the case. Being assertive means you have a healthy respect for yourself and others. If you lose self respect you become a doormat and if you lose respect for others you will be a bully.

Look at the following scenarios and think about what you would do.

– A salesperson makes a huge effort to help you. Do you feel obliged to buy something?
– A neighbour’s dog keeps barking incessantly. Would you go round to protest?
– At a restaurant the service is not good. Would you leave a tip?
– Someone you know invites you to an event you know will be boring. Do you immediately say no?
– An old lady pushes in front of you in a queue. Would you say anything?
– In the tube, someone is playing very loud music next to you. Would you voice your objection?

These are just a few common situations where your assertiveness may be put to the test. If you answered yes to 2 or more of the questions above, chances are that your actions are being dictated by others, and you can do with becoming more assertive.

5 Tips to Become More Assertive

1. Feelings
Figure out what you want and what you believe in. Being aware of your beliefs and values will help you stand up for what you think is right. This in turn will support you in being specific about what you are willing to put up with, creating Healthy Boundaries.

2. Say No
If you are unsure about accepting a social invitation, imagine the event is taking place now and you are free to go. Do you want to? If the answer is a definite no, then be polite and decline straight away. It is better to say no upfront than to put it off until the last minute. Give yourself permission to do what you want to do.

3. Use “I”
“I” is a powerful word. It also looks like what you want to represent, someone standing tall, straight and strong. “I” suggests you are your own person, responsible for your actions, feelings and thoughts. So, say “I feel….”, “I believe…”. For example, instead of “The circumstances are worse than before” say “I feel the circumstances are worse than before”.

4. Active Verbs
Make a conscious choice to use active verbs versus passive. For example, rather than saying “Would you do this?” say “Will you do this?” This subtle change will make it harder for people to say no. Also, active language will soon translate to active actions.

5. Dress to Impress
Wearing shabby old clothes will do nothing for your demeanour. Create outfits for different scenarios that make you feel confident and empowered. You know what they say, “fake it ’til you make it!”

With our hectic lifestyles, adopting a laissez faire, go with the flow kind of attitude can make things easier. However, it can also backfire as if you do not stand up for yourself you will not get what you want and will end up feeling frustrated and helpless.

Remember – “Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no ones definition of your life. Define yourself.” ~ Harvey Fierstein

Do you think you stand up for yourself? Any tips you would like to add to this list?

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Written by Ana Antunes da Silva.

Image provided by Chesi-Fotos CC.

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