Have you ever tried to stand up for yourself only to find yourself crying or falling apart in front of the person? Unfortunately this is not all that uncommon. When it happens it can be frustrating to say the least not to mention embarrassing. This especially true if the situation is happening at work. Although this type of reaction is more common in women who don’t like conflict, it can happen to anyone.
The problem is women have to learn to stand up for themselves. When women fail to stand up they almost inevitably lose themselves. They begin to accept the unacceptable, doubt themselves, become depressed and at some point become resentful. The ripple effect of women not having their own back is health issues and relationship issues. When it comes to standing up for themselves, silence is way too costly.
Standing up does not need to be painful or anxiety provoking. The best way to take away the sting of this process is to start small and take baby steps. Below are a few tips to help women learn to stand up without falling apart:
1. Notice the nics. Pay attention to what doesn’t feel right about an interaction. Too often women learn to tune things out so they miss the nics (I.e. rude comments, mean actions, disrespect). Too many nics take a toll on women. Learn to recognize them.
2. Pause. Once you’re aware that a behavior isn’t okay, PAUSE. Stop talking, stay present and BREATHE. Taking a slow deep breath will allow you to get grounded and think. Simply take a moment to stop your automatic reaction of shutting down or silencing.
3. Name it…be the mirror. After you feel calm get clear about what wasn’t okay and simply name the behavior. For example, if someone put you down, say, “That was a put down.” If someone is pointing his/her finger in your face, say, “You’re pointing your finger in my face.”
4. Let go. Once you name it, don’t allow the other person’s response to startle you. If they get angry, calmly ask them to stop doing the behavior you just named. End the conversation if they don’t stop.
5. Breathe. After the incident is over, step away from the person and take a slow, deep breath to regroup and calm down.
6. Pat yourself on the back. Congratulate yourself for having the courage to stand up for yourself.
Being the mirror is the least intrusive way to stand up for you. Start with the “safest” people first (I.e. friends, laid back people). When you get the hang of the mirror concept use it with anyone no matter how heated they get. Work your way up to having your back most, if not all, of the time.
The point of you speaking up is not to get the other person to see the light. The point is to help you build your self-care muscles. The more you stand up for yourself the better you’ll feel–regardless of what the other person does. As you stand up for yourself others often back down and move onto an easier target. As you get really skilled, you can begin to stand up for what is right—regardless of whom the target it is.
CHALLENGE: Decide today to no longer allow others to treat you poorly. Begin to build your self-care muscles by speaking up for yourself one incident at a time. Take note of how it feels when you speak up regardless of how the other person responds.