If you’re an introvert who has trouble standing up for yourself, you know how it feels to be walked all over—and not in the good way, like those Thai massages that crack your back.
Being a pushover fractures your soul. It makes you feel voiceless, like in a dream when you try to speak but nothing comes out. Except this is real life, and there are consequences for not standing up for yourself. Painful consequences.
If you’re a pushover, people take advantage of you. They pile more and more work on you until you’re completely overwhelmed. They also ‘forget’ to ask for your input before making plans. Most frustratingly, they talk at you rather than with you, assuming your opinion doesn’t matter. Not only that.
When you can’t stand up for yourself, it’s like pieces of you start to disintegrate. Your opinions get swept away with the wind. Your true personality gets stomped to the ground.
Even though it sucks to lose yourself in this way, it’s hard to stop being a pushover. If you stand up for yourself and start saying no, people might get angry and leave. Which is what you were avoiding to begin with.
What will people think?
I have a friend who was a people pleaser for most of his life. Then in his late twenties he started seeing a therapist who helped him see that he needed to make some changes. Unfortunately, those changes had consequences.
When he started saying no to his friends, some of them were confused and angry. After all, he had made a sharp turn in a direction they weren’t expecting. All the sudden assertiveness gave them emotional whiplash.
It was a tough time, but his real friends stuck around and adjusted. They realized that they could no longer only call when they needed something. They had to step up and be real friends who gave as much as they took.
My friend’s pushover story had a happy ending —again, not the Thai massage kind—and so can yours! ?
Here are tips to stop being a pushover and start standing up for yourself.
Say no with decisiveness
The fine art of saying no has two important components. There is the actual saying of it, which involves sounding out a one syllable word. Easy.
The second aspect of saying no is the actual delivery of the word. It’s the way you frame it. If a no is uttered with even a hint of guilt, people will exploit that. So, stop doubting yourself. Commit to your decision to say no and don’t apologize, which brings me to my next point.
Stop saying sorry
This point is very un-Canadian of me, but it makes sense, eh? You don’t have to apologize for having boundaries.
You don’t have to explain yourself either. A drawn-out explanation with lots of apologies implies that you feel guilty or insecure. When you have to stand up for yourself, keep it short and sweet.
Identify what you want and don’t want
Identifying what you want and don’t want is the first step to creating healthy boundaries. There’s this scene in the show The Office when Pam, the insecure office secretary, decides that she’s going to start asking for what she wants.
Some of Pam’s wants are easy to identify: she doesn’t want to be called Pammy anymore. Others are harder to articulate: she doesn’t want her coworkers to treat her like she’s invisible.
What are you unwilling to tolerate any longer? And what do you want instead?
Don’t wait too long
A while ago I had a conversation about relationships with my friend and energy healer Alexa Linton. She reminded me that I don’t have to wait until things get really bad to walk away from a relationship. This applies to both friendships and romantic relationships.
Often we wait too long to address the things that bother us. Introverts especially tend to put off confrontation until it’s too late. And then we suffer the consequences.
It’s like that old boiling frog fable. If a frog is put into boiling water it will jump out. Gradually increase the heat and it will stay put and slowly boil alive. I know it’s a dark analogy, but it is true that a lot of us would rather get burned than speak our truth.
I know standing up for yourself is hard, but it’s worth it. People will start to treat you with more respect, and even admiration. It takes courage to hold your ground, say no, and standup for what matters to you. If I can do it, so can you.
While you’re here, be sure to grab my free Introvert Connection Guide.
Over to you, dearest
Do you struggle to stand up for yourself? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you! ?