Learn the skill of standing up for yourself

Anolene Thangavelu Pillay is a Psychology Advisor. Picture: Supplied

Anolene Thangavelu Pillay is a Psychology Advisor. Picture: Supplied

Published Mar 1, 2024



Have you ever felt helpless after being harshly criticised in a world that appears unfair? That you are the constant victim of bullying or undermining, coupled with angry or loud speech?

Imagine holding a remote control to your emotions and reactions, where you can press the mute button whenever you wish. Mute the aggressive words or actions from others, not physically but mentally.

Has being trampled and unappreciated by others ever made you feel bulldozed?

These insights delve into why this happens, the motive behind it and highlight how you can rise above it.

At first, it can be intimidating to speak up for yourself. Acquiring the skill of standing up for yourself is possible through practise while upholding your integrity.

As per the saying, practise makes perfect. You’ll start to feel less nervous over time. You have the freedom to choose your response and deprive others of the satisfaction they crave.

Instead of being a victim to the winds of their hostility. Recognise the negative phrases you tell yourself, discover more positive ones and practise using them. You become unaffected by any harsh words or actions from others. Others cannot get to you unless you open the gates and allow them to enter your mind.

Your true worth lies in upholding your standards, even if your generosity has been trampled. Life will have people walk over your kindness without a second thought, but there’s a crucial distinction.

Being generous doesn’t equate to being a pushover. Understand the intent of others criticising you as a way to gain control. Ensure boundaries are in place by asserting yourself without aggression while demonstrating a deep sense of self-respect for yourself. Value your self-worth and function from a place of self-assurance. Realise that our worth is not based on how others perceive us but on our unwavering commitment to ourselves.

With everything being equal, do you feel uneasy about asserting yourself? Afraid of conflict? Is there a fear of guilt? Do you struggle with recognising your own needs and setting boundaries? If you resonate with the feelings, it’s possible that as a child, you were conditioned not to be assertive, to talk back or say no. You were probably conditioned to agree to be submissive when being harshly criticised or faced with false opinions.

Regardless of your personality, being able to stand up for yourself should be instinctual. From childhood, the idea of not being assertive has been implanted in your mind, similar to stories or perceptions that were instilled into you.

Recognise this reality: what has been learnt can always be unlearnt. Develop a sense of curiosity, explore conflict, guilt or how to break free from behaviours that have been ingrained in you since childhood. Fortunately, assertiveness is a skill that can be learn. Books and courses are available to answer your questions.

Are you open to assessing or adjusting your assertiveness? Participate in a repetitive process of improving your confidence. Enhance your ability to speak up by assessing and adjusting how you come across to others. Become adaptable in how you approach situations.

Gain peace of mind by receiving honest feedback from others who will be truthful about whether you are coming across too harsh, too soft or just right. Become transparent; it’s a friend you can trust. Those closest to you will probably validate and appreciate your efforts if you are honest and ask for help.

Asking why this is happening once you’ve reached the bottom requires a thorough reflection. This isn’t about avoiding, but a strategic move to gain perspective and identify ways to move forward. Focus on your own responses instead of attempting to influence the behaviour or opinions of others. By having an empathetic perspective, you can diffuse your anger. You become an observer of the insecurities of others.

Harsh criticisms of others are an expression of their own insecurities, not the truth about you. Prepare yourself to react wisely, not blindly. As stress levels decrease, navigating becomes easier, disengagement is possible and future interactions are prevented. Direct your efforts towards self-improvement rooted in ethical behaviour.

If you felt harshly criticised or bullied, realise your worth is not determined by how much you please others but by your commitment to your moral excellence. Recognise those who attempt to defame your worth. Your role as the master of your own domain is to guide it. Reacting spontaneously often results in temporary contentment.

Unparalleled understanding and practising self-restraint can result in permanent fulfilment which can serve as a catalyst for positive change in your life. Hidden among these whirling emotions lies an opportunity to learn, grow and emerge stronger. Strategise not to defeat them but to rise above and defeat your inner turmoil. Become the master of your own domain. Wouldn’t it be a challenge?

Anolene Thangavelu Pillay is a psychology adviser.

Daily News

Related Topics:

BullyingMental Health