From people cutting in front of you in line to colleagues hijacking your ideas at work, life presents you with countless opportunities to stand up for yourself. Even so, do you ever struggle when it comes to being confident?
There’s nothing wrong with brushing off minor slights and just moving on. But you may need to be more forceful sometimes to get what you want, to speak your mind, to share your ideas effectively, and so on. But learning how to be more confident can be tricky.
Being self-confident doesn’t mean you intend to control others or boss them around. There’s certainly a difference between self-confidence and aggression. Standing up for yourself is all about expressing what you want while still respecting others. Boosting yourself up doesn’t necessarily mean you’re putting others down. With practice, you can discover the perfect balance and stand up for yourself without being aggressive or offensive.
Here are 10 steps to get you started:
- View confidence positively.
You’re not alone if just thinking about standing up for yourself makes you uncomfortable. Developing confidence can be tough, especially if you’ve become accustomed to staying silent or just going along with things. But standing up for yourself is a good thing, so don’t feel bad about doing it. Approach your new manner from a positive perspective.
- Communicate clearly.
People can’t read your mind. Standing up for yourself is the most efficient way for others to understand you and figure out how they should respond to you. So, stop skirting around issues. Use specific, concise words to communicate clearly what you want.
- Set a proper time and place.
If something’s on your mind, bring it up when the person is both willing and able to talk to you. Bringing up matters in the wrong place and at the wrong time will not lead to a positive resolution. If something important needs to be communicated, don’t immediately just blurt it out. Find the proper moment. If necessary, set up a time and place to talk. If possible, prepare your information so it will be received easily and correctly.
- Don’t neglect yourself.
Spending your time catering to everybody else’s plans, hopes, and desires might seem like a considerate thing to do. But it will likely leave you feeling resentful and worn out because it will be nearly impossible for you to tend to your own needs. That’s why acting just a bit on the selfish side is a good thing. It means you’re prioritizing yourself: your needs are important, and you shouldn’t suffer from constantly putting others first.
- Learn how to say “no.”
If you always answer “yes” to everything in an effort to make everybody else happy 24/7/365, you need to find balance. Saying “no” is always okay when you’re trying to stop neglecting yourself. Realizing that it’s okay to say “no” is among the most emotionally freeing things you can do. Once you’re comfortable saying “no,” you’ll find it’s become easier for you to stand up for yourself.
- Express yourself physically.
If you’re having issues with your self-confidence, start paying attention to your body language. You may be slouching. Standing up straight projects confidence. To physically communicate genuine confidence, you have to feel good from the inside out. If you feel good inside, this will be reflected in the body image you project on the outside. Getting adequate sleep, eating healthy food, prioritize your mental health, and connecting with people around you will all help you feel good on the inside.
- Choose battles wisely.
You will experience situations in which it wouldn’t be worth it to stand up for yourself. Part of being more confident is knowing when to back down.
If it’s a singular issue that may simply be the result of somebody having a bad day, you may just want to back down and let things go. But if somebody has been causing ongoing problems for you, you should stand up for yourself and address things head-on.
- Set appropriate boundaries.
Boundaries communicate to others how you want to be treated. Boundaries express which actions you will or won’t tolerate from others—what’s okay and not okay to you, what you’re willing to do or say or not, what you don’t want to hear from others, and so on. Once you set your boundaries, you have something to stand up for.
- Don’t apologize.
Though it may feel like a reflex, resist the urge to say “I’m sorry” after you make a request. For example, when you ask for help with household chores, be straightforward. Say something like, “I need help. I can’t do this all by myself. Would you please help me out with these chores?” Don’t pepper your request with random apologies.
- Remember that you deserve respect.
Low self-esteem is closely intertwined with tendencies to be a push-over. To overcome this, it helps to remind yourself that nobody should be rude to you, ignore you, or invalidate your feelings. Nobody has the right to undermine you.
Bonus Tip: Practice!
It’s always possible to practice standing up for yourself. You’ll get better at it with time, so that you can stand up for yourself when necessary. If you feel like you need to be more assertive, commit to practicing on a daily basis. Try some of the tips listed above. It’s just fine if it takes things a while to sink in. Research has shown that it takes about two months to form a new habit. So, commit to practicing confidence every day for 60 days. It will soon feel natural to you to stand up for yourself!