If you recognize these 12 behaviors, you need to start standing up for yourself

Life can be confusing and complicated, but there are some very simple basics that will immediately elevate your relationships, success and self-esteem. 

One of these is the practice of standing up for yourself. 

If you’re like me and you grew up taught to be agreeable, kind and extremely polite, then standing up for yourself isn’t something you always do. 

But it is something you can learn, and doing so will pay enormous dividends and allow you to engage more effectively with the world around you. 

Let’s take a look at the signs that you’re not standing up for yourself sufficiently: 

1) You have trouble putting yourself first

From a young age, you’ve found it hard to put yourself first

There is some instinct inside yourself that feels like you should please others or put them first and prioritize them. 

This is often absorbed from parents or authority figures who made you feel like you were a burden or had to “earn” love and approval early on in your life.

Now, as an adult, you still find it very hard to put yourself first and put yourself above everyone else. 

2) You rarely if ever say no to a request

You struggle enormously to say no

When somebody asks you to help them out or even to give of your time to hear them out or give advice, you almost always do.

If you do turn someone down, even a person you don’t know well, you feel horrible about it and often find yourself apologizing to them at a later time.

The word no is just not in your vocabulary. 

As the Menninger Clinic advises:

“Feeling confident in saying “no” can help people set clear and consistent boundaries in their relationships.

Saying no to certain things can be an act of self-care by creating time or energy for things that help you feel better about yourself, your relationships, or your overall experience in this world.”

3) You let others cross your boundaries to avoid displeasing anyone

As a result of this difficulty in saying no, you even let people cross your boundaries instead of displeasing or upsetting them. 

Common examples include:

  • Saying yes to being asked out on a date with somebody you are not at all interested in.
  • Agreeing to a business deal that’s actually a bad deal.
  • Letting a friend or loved one use you to dump their negative energy on even when they won’t listen to your advice.
  • Accepting awful work conditions for low pay and not speaking up or demanding more. 

4) You often feel overwhelmed by having too much put on your plate

You frequently find that you simply have too much on your plate as a result of taking on jobs and tasks.

Whether it’s family stuff, work or other aspects of your life and friendships, you often have too much to do for just one person. 

You feel like you’d have to clone yourself to really do everything that’s expected of you, but learning to say no to some of what’s asked of you feels impossible. 

As Rachael Roberts notes:

“You are likely to attract people who want to take advantage of your tendency to do too much. 

Manipulators, and ‘victims’ who want you to rescue them and who will encourage you to deny your own needs.”

5) You’re frequently asked to play second fiddle or be a fallback option

None of us get everything we want in life, and rejection and disrespect happen to everybody. 

But if you find that you’re routinely and frequently treated as somebody’s backup plan, “just a friend” or midnight text because they’re bored?

You’re being undervalued. 

There’s no question about it that somebody who truly respects you won’t treat you as a person they can contact at the last minute. 

They won’t date you once the first person doesn’t work out…

They will offer you the position only once the other hire falls through. 

6) You feel guilty when you speak up about your own point of view

If you find it hard to disagree with people, you’re not alone. 

There is something to be said for getting along and not starting unnecessary arguments, absolutely. 

But if it’s gotten to the point where you’re genuinely anxious to even mildly disagree with friends, family or strangers, you need to start standing up for yourself more. 

You have the right to your views. You have the right to say things others may find odd or disagree with. 

Big deal. Let them think what you want. Be true to yourself

7) You let other people make life decisions for you 

If your partner displays these behaviors theyre an emotional manipulator If you recognize these 12 behaviors, you need to start standing up for yourself

You find it very difficult to make a decision for your life without outside input and approval. 

It can reach the stage that you actually let others make your decisions for you. 

You feel like you are not worthy to decide for yourself and are petrified you will make a mistake. 

Instead, you let others tell you what’s best to do and pressure and talk you into agreeing with what they feel is the right option.

“Sometimes, the best choice for you does happen to also coincide with the choices or opinions of other people. 

But this is not always the case. The pressure to conform to actions other people assert are best for you can be weighty,” explains Harsh Yadav.

“Ultimately, however, you are in charge of the decisions you make.” 

8) You go out of your way and deny yourself to avoid conflict

You dread conflict far beyond what can be considered a healthy level. 

It’s not just that you don’t like disagreeing or having tension:

It’s that you will go far out of your way, cancel plans and switch around all sorts of things in your life just to avoid even the smallest faux pas or misunderstanding.

You find yourself shutting down emotionally and repressing disagreements all the time because the idea of any kind of conflict scares you so much. 

“Our defenses can lead us to become inward or act cold, finding millions of excuses not to interact with someone we love,” notes clinical psychologist Lisa Firestone, Ph.D.

9) You internalize anger and bitter feelings instead of finding an outlet for them

This relates to the previous point, in that you have a lot of trouble with disagreement and conflict. 

It’s so hard for you to stand up for yourself that your anger and bitterness ends up getting pushed inside and repressed:

This can lead to a whole host of physical problems starting with high blood pressure, ulcers and stress, as well as mental issues like anxiety and depression. 

You need to stand up more for yourself, and the proof is that when somebody treats you poorly or crosses boundaries you push that hurt inside instead of expressing it. 

Sometimes it needs to be expressed to the person who crossed the line; sometimes it needs to be let out in a different activity or outlet. 

10) You fixate and obsess about somebody disliking you

The idea of somebody disliking you is very hard for you to deal with. 

Let’s be honest:

It’s not in any of our natures to enjoy being disliked or disapproved of.

But when it reaches this level it’s a real and gnawing insecurity, even with regard to strangers:

“Why does that bank teller seem to think I’m untrustworthy? Why did that girl I went out with not call me back?”

It goes beyond concern for sensitivity with others to the point of outsourcing well-being to what somebody else may or may not feel about you. 

Firstly: it’s usually just endless, useless speculation.

Secondly: what others feel and think about you will never be as important as what you think and feel about yourself. 

11) You hold back your own ambition to put colleagues ahead of you

In your professional life, you find yourself often allowing coworkers to overtake you and get promotions while you hang back. 

You may even go so far as to engage in career self-sabotage, intentionally seeking to stay in an easier, lower-responsibility position in order to feel approved of and safe. 

The idea of competing or truly pursuing your dreams in your career strikes you as “too much,” and you worry it could rock too many boats or be too competitive with your colleagues.

“In many cases, self-destructive behavior like career self-sabotage is rooted in anxiety,” notes Roxanne Calder.

12) You deny your dreams and identity for the sake of a relationship. 

If you find that you deny your dreams or downplay who you are in order to be liked, you need to stand up for yourself. 

This simply means a healthy, balanced level of belief in yourself and willingness to draw lines.

It doesn’t mean you’re always confident or that life will be smooth sailing, but it does mean that you’re willing to be firm about who you are and what you stand for. 

Picture of Paul Brian

Paul Brian

Paul R. Brian is a freelance journalist and writer who has reported from around the world, focusing on religion, culture and geopolitics. Follow him on www.twitter.com/paulrbrian and visit his website at www.paulrbrian.com

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