How to Stand Up for Yourself
If you’re a recovering conflict avoider like me, you may not stand up for yourself because you think that means having a messy confrontation. Then you castigate yourself for not speaking up. Sound familiar?
Just because you're angry doesn’t mean you have to go toe-to-toe with someone. If you’ve always thought of yourself as a conflict-avoider it may just be that you never learned how to work with anger in a constructive way.
Here’s what I’ve learned about how healthy anger supports us:
💥 Anger is useful and clarifying.
💥 Anger gives us the energy and power to do hard things.
💥 Anger helps us to be bigger when we want to be small.
💥 Anger is curious, it wants answers.
There are times when anger clearly tells you to walk away. In those instances, let your anger move your feet. You can sort out later whether you want to re-engage.
But, if your anger is telling you there’s something more to be expressed, here’s how you can stand up for yourself:
1. Take a step back. It’s okay not to respond right away. Take some time to sit with yourself and your feelings. Let your anger guide you.
2. Be curious. Instead of creating your own reasons for the other person’s actions, think about the questions you have about their behavior. You can always start with, “Why did you do that?” Or, “What did you mean by that?”
3. Share impact. If it feels safe for you, share how the person’s actions made you feel. If you’re not sure exactly how you feel, you can say something like, “That didn’t sit right with me.” Or, “I felt hurt that I was excluded.”
4. You don’t have to have all the answers. Needing all the answers can be a trap that keeps you from engaging. You don’t have to know exactly how you feel. You don’t have to understand their motivations. You can ask them your questions and share whatever you’re feeling and thinking, even if it’s that you don’t know exactly how you feel.
When you approach someone with genuine curiosity and the other person is able to meet you there, it’s an opportunity to deepen your relationship because it just got more real. If they’re not able to engage constructively with you, then it’s an opportunity to see the limitations of that relationship. Either way, your anger will alchemize into deeper self-trust because you've honored it.
Envision standing up for yourself as calling all of your power back, fully inhabiting yourself, and from that place, being curious and speaking what’s true for you.
I help people get clarity and create momentum in their lives. Whether it's their work-life, relationships, life stage, or building their business, people usually come to me because they're at a crossroads and are unsure how to proceed.
If you're reading this and leaning in, let's chat.
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