How I Learned to Stand Up for Myself
I am naturally a people pleaser and a giver. Most of my life, I sacrificed in order to make others happy and I used to think this was a good thing. Helping others and giving to others, self-sacrifice etc. (all good things) But, because I did not take enough time for myself, and because I did not learn to stand up for myself, over time, a huge build-up of resentment and anger grew seeds of misery within my soul that eventually could not be contained. My desire to please and take care of everyone else created unhealthy behavior patterns in my marriage that ultimately resulted in divorce. My divorce was the beginning of a new life. A new chapter. One of my greatest life-changing moments was when I realized that if I didn’t stand up for myself, who would?
I did a lot of soul-searching. I came to understand that I was under a false sense of obligation and a warped belief system. I held onto the belief that if I treated others the way I would want to be treated…they would reciprocate and all would be well…Right? Nope!...Other people simply can’t read minds and everyone has a different set of values and boundaries. I found out that it is my responsibility alone to set my boundaries and make them clear in order to avoid interpersonal conflicts. I needed to communicate more effectively. I started to understand that I was responsible for my own happiness and I was not responsible for the happiness of others. I needed to become responsible for taking care of myself.
Prior to this, my life was ruled by fears. As a result of my fears of upsetting people, or disappointing them, I repeatedly allowed myself to get sucked into compromising situations simply because I did not know how to stand up for myself by saying NO. In this manner, I created a life for myself that was very demanding and eventually full of resentment.
I would actually feel guilty saying “no” if someone asked me for something. I would instantly feel obligated to that person, just because they asked something of me. This created a life of hardship for me. I ran on empty for many years and eventually found myself full of resentment, anger, completely drained and utterly miserable. I felt lost. I had given all of myself away until there was nothing left and I was lost. I lost myself in the needs and demands of others. I lived in survival mode. Survival mode isn’t pretty. I didn’t even like myself anymore. Furthermore, I didn't know who I was anymore.
I needed a solution, but I felt torn apart by my beliefs.
How could I be a true giver and yet still take care of myself? This seemed impossible to solve at first. I delved deep into myself to figure it out. I read many self-help books, As a result, my thinking changed and suddenly the answers were all in front of me. Once I understand that my false beliefs and limited understanding of my own needs were the real problems, not that other people were being too demanding, asking too much of me or whatever. I became self-empowered and was able to find the solution within myself.
I gave myself permission to speak up.
I gave myself value.
I decided that my needs were just as important as everyone else’s.
I set boundaries.
I set time aside for myself each day to recharge.
I bought myself flowers every payday because I love flowers and it made me feel good to treat myself.
I let go of my fear of disappointing others and of criticism.
I realized that I was responsible for my own happiness and I was not responsible for the happiness of others.
I learned that practicing the word no is a required step to achieving a happier, healthier life.
I practiced NO.
I identified the emotional vampires in my life and disassociated myself from them.
If your kids are the vampires…then it is definitely time to stand up for yourself and time for them to learn how to respect your boundaries. Kids need a lot of No.
I let go of any guilty feelings about taking care of myself.
I became important.
I became valuable.
I became worth taking care of.
I treated myself the way I wanted to be treated and since then it’s been a much happier and healthier life.
Take the journey.