It will be difficult for anyone to value you if you do not value yourself. Perhaps you have already learned this lesson. What you might not have considered is just how immoral it is to allow someone else to treat you in a manner that is less than respectful.
This reminds me of a coworker whose supervisor (not the same as mine) verbally abused him. Instead of being assertive and doing something about it, he just put up and shut up. This went on for years. Meanwhile, my friend’s emotional wellbeing deteriorated.
There are countless ways to be assertive. One is to speak up for yourself when someone is degrading you. Keep in mind, though, there are some cases where it might be better to wait, especially if you are so upset or angry that you might say something you’ll regret. If that is the case, then calm down first before you speak.
Some find it best to put their words in a well thought out letter or email, so they can take their time to choose precisely what they want to communicate. Be mindful of the fact that anything you put in writing will be a permanent document that can be used against you later, so review everything, and proofread your correspondence before you send it.
A common mistake is being passive, especially when you are afraid that standing up for yourself will make things worse. Being assertive almost always makes things better in the long run, because people will tend to respect you more. They will certainly respect you more than if you just let someone walk all over you. When you have been victimized, don’t just give up, get up!
You have the right to be treated with basic human dignity. Furthermore, you have the right to make mistakes. We all do! Don’t let others make you feel bad about yourself because you are not perfect. You don’t have to feel hurt by their criticism. After all, they are the ones who are being nasty, not you.
Always remember: It is your responsibility to ask for what you need and to protect your rights. That’s a lesson I learned a long time ago when I got my first job working in a group home for mentally ill clients.
Much of the day, program planning involved teaching the clients basic living skills. Assertiveness and speaking up for oneself was a big part of that.
How ironic that I did not even practice those skills in my own life! I would not say anything when the cashier didn’t give me the reduced price, or the pushy salesperson tried to rush me into making a decision, or the waitress forgot to bring my water. I would just sit there, hoping someone else would defend my rights.
Back then, I was notorious for not asking questions for fear of looking stupid when I didn’t understand something. I soon learned I needed to practice what I preached. If I expected my clients to advocate for themselves, then I needed to do the same.
You also have the right to say how you feel without apologizing for your emotions. How many times have you prefaced your feelings statement with an apology? Something like, “I’m sorry, I just feel that...” Or, “I’m sorry you guys. I’m just really feeling kind of ___ right now.” Stop apologizing for your feelings. There is nothing wrong with having emotions.
(Some behaviors, on the other hand, are another matter.)
Neglecting your physical and emotional health is just as immoral as not standing up for yourself. You owe it to yourself to live a healthy lifestyle.
Today’s Loving Suggestion: The way you feel about yourself affects the way you treat others. If you want to become a more loving human being, you can begin by being loving towards yourself. Standing up for your basic human rights is a fine place to start.
Take it slowly at first. There is no need to put on a hero’s cape just yet. Try something simple like asking someone (a co-worker, clerk, roommate, family member, neighbor, etc.) for help. Even if you don’t really need it, just do it for practice. This exercise will build and strengthen assertiveness skills that can be utilized when you really need them later.
This type of self-improvement should not be seen as selfishness because the more dignity you have, the more dignity you will show others. It’s a win-win situation for everyone. So keep practicing these skills and keep standing up for yourself. You’re worth it!
If you have followed any of the suggestions in the Sir Rennity feature, I would love to hear your stories. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will keep your letters private unless you request that they be published.
The Sir Rennity feature is intended to provide gentle guidance for your life. These articles hold no intrinsic meaning. You give meaning to them based on the value you place on them, so the words here are meaningless unless you put them into practice.