Written by DiveThru Team
Reviewed by Natalie Asayag MSW, LCSW
How To Stand Up for Yourself
Published Sep 17th, 2021 & updated on Sep 17th, 2021
Standing up for yourself is really fucking hard! Often, it feels so much easier to just cater to other people’s needs before looking after your own. But opportunities can pop up in big and small ways each day where you can practice how to stand up for yourself!
Maybe your barista gave you the wrong coffee order or your coworker stole your idea and pitched it as their own (what a jerk)! Both instances can feel just as intimidating to confront, so if you usually decide to let it go, we’re not judging! But, being a people pleaser can burn you out emotionally and physically. You end up losing sight of what YOU need and then get taken advantage of because you’re just too sweet to say ‘no’ without feeling guilty. WE DON’T WANT THAT FOR YOU!
Your needs and wellbeing are important too! We can so often get lost in helping others, caring for them, responding to their demands, and bending over backwards for people who hardly ever say “thank you.” It’s okay to brush off small inconveniences, but it’s also important to learn how to stick up for yourself and how to be assertive.
You deserve so much better! So stop overextending yourself and burning yourself out bestie (it feels like crap)! Let’s go through all the ways you can get started on your path to self-advocacy.
1. Remember That You Deserve Respect
Yep! You do! Why? Because you’re a human being on this planet! And we’re going to take a guess that you’re a really nice person. Really nice people deserve respect! It’s basically a human right in our eyes.
So, the next time that someone tries to take up your valuable time and energy without your consent, see if they’re respecting you. People pleasers (that’s us) often feel like they need to earn the respect of others, so they go out of their way to try and do that. But we need to realize that our time and energy are worthy of respect already! If the dynamic feels unhealthy, chances are that respect isn’t travelling both ways. It’s a two-way street. 👀
2. Work On Your Self-Esteem
People who have a hard time standing up for themselves often have lower self-esteem and self-confidence. The reassurance and search for a “job well done” keeps those of us trapped in a cycle of trying to impress, cater to, and assist people that we’re seeking that sweet sweet approval from.
Self-validation, self-love and self-worth play a big part in allowing yourself to stand up to others. Self-advocacy doesn’t really exist if you don’t think that you’re worth it. BUT YOU ARE SO WORTH IT!
3. Set Boundaries
Setting boundaries can feel like being asked to fly to the moon using only your little human ears — impossible! But setting boundaries with people, places, or things (all the nouns!) that aren’t good for your mental or physical wellbeing is necessary. Doing this can help you create an environment for yourself that’s only full of love, respect and positivity.
It can feel damn hard to even know what your boundaries should be in the first place, so practice listening to your body. How does it feel when your boss asks you last-minute to cover a shift for the 3rd time this week? What about when that one toxic friend calls you right as you’ve sat down to do some self-care? If it makes you feel icky, drained, tired, upset, frustrated or just blah, that’s when you know you need to set a boundary!
4. Say No
Saying no can feel like the hardest thing in the world to do. We never want to let people down, so when we say no, it can feel like you’re Spider-Man standing on the top of a building willingly watching New York fall to pieces. But the whole of New York isn’t depending on you and everything WILL be alright at the end of the day!
Remember, saying no is okay! In fact, sometimes it’s fucking necessary!
5. Remember You’re Not Being Mean
Standing up for yourself can feel like you’re attacking the other person for just asking you to help them, but that’s not the case. We promise! Standing up for yourself doesn’t automatically make you a mean person. It makes you an assertive one! But we understand how you can know this logically and still feel like you’re being a big meany pants.
Try your best to remember that you’re not being mean, you’re just asking for what you need instead.
Start small! You don’t have to go and fight the Supreme Court right away, but you can start with that barista giving you the wrong drink order. Maybe you’re lactose intolerant and drinking something with milk will land you sitting on the toilet all day! And you don’t have to be rude about it…just politely ask for a drink you know won’t make you poop your pants.
Remember, you’re not being mean. You’re just setting a boundary. And like we said, this can be really hard to do at first, so practice, practice, practice!
7. Practice Self-Care
It can feel like a mental and emotional rollercoaster trying to navigate this new world of assertiveness! A lot of emotions can start to come up and people can start to push back against the boundaries that you’re trying to set for yourself. DON’T GIVE IN! Do some self-care instead!
Self-care helps you learn to appreciate and love yourself! Doing this helps build your self-esteem and kind of forces you to practice self-compassion too! It’s a sneaky way to make you feel good and help you realize that you’re fucking WORTH IT, BABY!
How do you feel? Okay? Confident? Scared? No matter what emotions are swirling inside of you, know that it’s okay to feel this way. Learning to stand up for yourself can take time and it’s not always going to happen overnight. But one day you’ll wake up, tell someone to frick the frack off, and it’ll feel so powerful and amazing!!!