Today’s reading brought a message of self-empowerment. We are to be more confident, stronger in our convictions, willing to do what it takes to get our voice heard. We need to step into our own power, believe in ourselves, and finally break free from what is holding us back. But Warrell (2015) says it best, “if it were easy to stand up for ourselves, everyone would.”
For those of us conflict averse, having to speak up and say something can sometimes be terrifying. Without going down a rabbit hole of the psychology behind it, that last sentence (just by itself) is very telling. When did standing up for ourselves become something that we think causes a conflict? The right unfortunate mix of people pleasing tendencies and wavering self-confidence makes it so. You start second-guessing things, making excuses for yourself and others, you tell yourself it’s easier this way or that it doesn’t bother you. But none of that is quite true.
So how do we change this? How do we start standing up for ourselves? Seltzer (2012) believes it’s not as easy as telling people what you want or what you think you deserve. There is a fine line between being assertive (which is akin to standing up for yourself) and being plain aggressive. The key is in how you approach other people, making sure you consider their point of view and speak up when it makes sense, not just to get your way.
Warrell (2015) believes standing up for yourself is teaching other people how you want to be treated. When it’s put that way, it seems so simple. The times we kept silent or agreed with something because it seemed easier than to go against it, we were slowly conditioning others to treat us that way. Our compliance was misconstrued as agreement. That needs to stop.
Take a step towards breaking the cycle and having a more active role in your life. You don’t have to ‘go with the flow.’ You don’t have to agree with things so you don’t hurt other people’s feelings, or cause conflict, or because it’s easier, or because you don’t know how to explain yourself, etc.
Start by figuring out how you actually feel. Take note of when you are upset or resentful or sad or anxious in different situations. How many times have you found yourself in situations you didn’t want to be in? And then say no, or disagree, or clarify what you actually think. It starts with speaking up one time…