How To Stand Up For Yourself Without Hesitation

How To Stand Up For Yourself Without Hesitation

If you’re someone who’s naturally more reserved, standing up for yourself can be a major challenge. The problem is that if you don’t, people will take advantage of you and walk all over you. To avoid being screwed over or left behind, you have to learn how to assert yourself. It may take time, but here are some steps to take that will get you there.

1. Understand your worth.

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Recognizing your worth is the first step in standing up for yourself. Understand that you have the right to be respected and that your opinions, needs, and boundaries are just as important as everyone else’s. Your self-worth is the foundation of your ability to assert yourself, and it empowers you to command the respect you deserve.

2. Choose your battles.

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Not every situation requires you to assert yourself. It’s important to figure out when standing up for yourself is actually necessary. This may include instances where your boundaries are disrespected or your ideas and contributions are overlooked. Choosing the right circumstances will ensure that you’re taken seriously rather than just being written off as being overly defensive or high-maintenance.

3. Practice being confident.

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The role of confidence in standing up for yourself is huge. Adopting confident body language can really help with this – stand tall, maintain eye contact, and speak clearly. These actions help you appear and feel more assertive, which has the effect of boosting your self-esteem. When you feel good in your own skin, it’s much easier to back yourself.

4. Get good at saying “no.”

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Saying “no” can be challenging, especially if you worry about letting people down or upsetting them. However, it’s important to realize that you have the right to turn down requests or situations that overstep your comfort or personal boundaries. You’re not obliged to do everything everyone asks of you. Be selective about your “yes” — it’ll lead to a much more meaningful (and less exhausting) life.

5. Stay calm in the face of insults.

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If someone insults or belittles you, respond calmly yet firmly. Make it clear that you’re not going to put up with that kind of behavior and don’t have to listen to abuse or disrespect. This not only allows you to stand up for yourself but also sets a standard for your future interactions. If they can’t hang with those terms, they don’t need to speak to you.

6. Say it with your chest.

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“I” statements are a really helpful tool for expressing your feelings without escalating conflict. By focusing on your emotions and reactions rather than other people’s, you can assert yourself without blaming or criticizing anyone, thereby avoiding unnecessary confrontations. You also get to take ownership of yourself and your life, which is really important.

7. Trust your gut.

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If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Your intuition can often guide you in deciding when to stand up for yourself. Trusting your gut feelings can help you assert your needs more confidently. The more you trust in your ability to know the right path, the clearer that path becomes.

8. Avoid self-righteous defensiveness.

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While it’s necessary to stand up for yourself, it’s equally important to avoid invalidating other people’s perspectives in the process. Assertiveness shouldn’t involve attacking people. Instead, it’s about stating your own viewpoint and requirements clearly. It’s possible to respect other people while asserting yourself — find the balance.

9. Be your own advocate.

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Whether it’s negotiating a salary, requesting a promotion, or voicing a concern at work, don’t hesitate to advocate for what you want and need. Remember, standing up for yourself is about asserting yourself and making sure you feel like your needs are being met. After all, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. (And if you ask and still don’t get, at least you know you tried!)

10. Change your perspective.

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Being assertive isn’t about disrespecting other people; it’s about respecting yourself. By viewing assertiveness as a positive trait, you can stand up for yourself without feeling guilty or nervous. After all, anyone with dignity and integrity wouldn’t stand for people walking all over them.

11. Get support when you need it.

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Standing up for yourself doesn’t mean you have to do it alone. Reach out to supportive friends, family, or mentors when you’re finding it hard to assert yourself. They can provide guidance, encouragement, and a fresh perspective. Sometimes feedback from a (relatively impartial) third party is really eye-opening.

12. Don’t forget about active listening.

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Asserting yourself also involves understanding other people’s POV. Practice active listening to ensure you fully grasp what other people are saying before you respond. This can prevent misunderstandings and make your responses much more effective.

13. Keep your emotions in check.

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While it’s important to express how you feel, try to manage your emotions when standing up for yourself. Overly emotional responses can cloud your message and potentially escalate the situation. Aim for a calm, firm, and concise delivery. The more in control you appear when expressing yourself, the more likely other people are to take in what you’re saying instead of writing it off as the product of you having a meltdown.

14. Be patient with yourself.

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Learning to stand up for yourself is a process and it may take time to get comfortable with it. Be patient with yourself and celebrate small victories along the way. Remember, it’s okay to make mistakes — they’re a part of the learning process.

15. Work on building your self-esteem.

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Your ability to stand up for yourself is closely tied to your self-esteem. Do things every day that make you feel good about yourself and affirm your self-worth. This could be a hobby, exercise, or spending time with loved ones. The stronger you feel in yourself, the more that will come across to others.

16. Be prepared for backlash.

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Not everyone will respond positively when you stand up for yourself. Be prepared for potential backlash, but don’t let it discourage you. The goal is to assert your rights and maintain your dignity, not to please everyone.

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Originally from Australia, Emma Mills graduated from the University of Queensland with a dual degree in Philosophy and Applied Linguistics before moving to Los Angeles to become a professional matchmaker (a bit of a shift, obviously). Since 2015, she has helped more than 150 people find lasting love and remains passionate about bringing amazing singletons together.

Emma is also the author of the upcoming Hachette publication, "Off the Beaten Track: Finding Lasting Love in the Least Likely of Places," due out in January 2025.