10 Powerful Ways to Stand Up for Yourself in Any Situation

10 Powerful Ways To Stand Up For Yourself In Any Situation 1024x682

Every day we make dozens of little choices that either benefit us by asserting our ideas or diminish us because we hesitate in making our views or desires known.

Sometimes it seems easier to go with the flow to avoid potential conflict. But the truth is that letting people walk all over you can increase feelings of stress and anxiety, and it might eventually lessen your feelings of self-worth and play to your insecurities.

Learning to stand up for yourself will help you take charge of your life, believe in your own power and embolden you to reach for your dreams. The stronger you feel, the stronger you will become.

Learn to stand up for yourself in any situation with these 10 simple yet powerful steps.

1. Practice being transparent and authentic.

It might be difficult at times, but if you learn to express yourself openly and honestly, it will feel like a weight has been lifted from your shoulders. So often, we hide behind a halfhearted smile and nod instead of saying what we think. It takes practice, but learning to be authentic and open about what you are feeling or thinking is the first step. Once you get in the habit of making yourself heard without being overly accommodating or defensive, people will be more open to hearing you.

2. Take small but powerful steps.

If you are struggling with being assertive, start taking small steps to stand up for yourself. Even just learning to walk more confidently—head held high, shoulders back—will help you appear and feel more confident. Channel that confidence when dealing with others. This attitude can apply to all areas of your life. Feeling annoyed at the person who cut in front of you at Starbucks? Politely ask them to move to the back. See an unfair charge on a bill from one of your service providers? Call and dispute it.

3. When someone attacks, wait them out.

As you grow more confident in expressing yourself, you’re also going to have to learn to face those who want to override you. There will always be people whose personalities are set to attack mode. It’s important that you remain calm but assertive if you feel like someone is trying to bully you. Don’t allow yourself to get frazzled or react with low blows. Don’t cater to them or allow them to browbeat you either. Walk the high road but stand your ground.

4. Figure out what’s really bothering you.

Going with the flow for the purposes of not making waves actually creates more stress and anxiety for yourself. Of course, mustering the courage to face something or someone that is bothering you can feel scary. But facing the issue will empower you to make it better and diminishes the control it has over you. Remember, people can’t read your mind; if you don’t vocalize what is bothering you, no one will know.

5. Clarify first, without attacking.

It’s tempting to take a self-righteous stand, especially if you are sure you are in the right. From your viewpoint, you are justifiably defending yourself against someone who seems to be entirely in the wrong. But it’s important to resist the urge to react with emotion. Instead, take a breath and calmly explain your perspective to them. Avoid combative tones or accusatory words. Clarify exactly what you mean and listen to their response. Only then can a real discussion begin to take place.

6. Practice makes perfect.

Once you start getting the hang of what it means to stand up for yourself, it’s time to practice asking for what you want as often as possible. When someone says something you openly disagree with, or you feel pushed into doing something you don’t want to do, say something. Research shows that it takes 66 days to form a new habit, so stick with the new assertiveness for two months and you might be surprised by the results.

7. Be deliberate.

Here’s a situation that many of us have found ourselves in: sharing space with a messy co-worker or a roommate who is a slob. You might have remained silent while growing more aggravated at the situation. It might be tempting to slip into passive-aggressive behavior, such as angrily cleaning up the mess or making snide comments. Try being deliberate instead. Tell the person how you are feeling without being accusatory. Be straightforward with your concerns. Follow up with a simple suggestion that can correct the situation, such as: “If you can take a minute to tidy up your space at night, it would be a big help.”

8. Stand up for your time.

Time is a precious and limited commodity, and yet we often feel pressured to give it away when we have the ability to say no. There are times when you might not have a choice, such as when your boss says a project has high priority. But don’t let obligations dictate how you spend the hours of your day. You are in control of your own time. Push back when it’s appropriate, or tactfully disengage from those people or situations that submerge your schedule.

9. Recognize that no one can invalidate you.

You are in complete ownership of your feelings and actions. Your beliefs, emotions, thoughts and ideas belong to you, and no one else can tell you what you feel or invalidate your opinions. Likewise, if you seek to invalidate other people’s points of view, you are also sabotaging any chance for problem-solving or having an open discussion.

10. Fake it till you make it.

Learning to stand up for yourself won’t happen overnight. It takes time to grow comfortable with being assertive. While you are in the learning stage, it might help to imagine that you are an actor learning to play a new role.

Imagine that you are the most assertive person you know. How would they handle themselves in a difficult situation? There might be times when you swing from being overly zealous to being too indecisive. Learning to stand up for yourself is like riding a bike: Eventually, you will find the right balance.

This article was published in April 2017 and has been updated for accuracy and freshness. 
Photo by Kinga/Shutterstock

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Deep Patel is a serial entrepreneur, marketer and investor. He is the founder of the wellness brand Penguin CBD. The company was rated the #1 CBD brand of 2020 by Snoop Dogg’s Merry Jane and was acquired in May 2021. Patel also worked with companies like Cellucor (maker of C4) and A.T. Kearney.

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  1. Nancy Russell on September 10, 2018 at 11:02 am

    This is excellent- so helpful!!! I am friends with a wonderful person who grew up with an angry father and codependent mother. He has a beautiful heart but is not in touch with his feelings even though he understands others and can help them. I need to be assertive and at the same time validate his feelings. This is just what I needed- thank you!

  2. Neha on May 20, 2019 at 1:51 pm

    This is really great. So expressive and to the point.

    • Queen Bethel on November 22, 2019 at 9:24 pm

      That this was right on time for me.
      I have a friend who is a politician and everything I say becomes a debate.
      So I’m learning to be more assertive and yet maintain being who I am 🙌

  3. Ryan on June 4, 2019 at 9:16 pm

    hope this works, kids at my school make fun of me for my Asian heritage, and i cry every night about it

    • shifa on June 18, 2019 at 1:45 am

      I don’t know why people make fun of me In school but I know one reason is that I try to ignore them and I don’t talk a lot. And I agree with you that I cry every night about it.

  4. Auntie Kate on July 1, 2019 at 5:18 am

    Oh Ryan, I am so sorry. You can start with ”why are you treating me this way?” Or ”why are you being so mean?” to get them to think about they’re behaviour. I wish you well abd big warm hugs to you!

  5. ash angel on September 9, 2019 at 9:48 am

    people reading this the bully(s) are usally jelouse dont like yo. at all. push through the hurt dont be shy and tell teachers or a friend.

  6. rhy on September 16, 2019 at 6:40 pm

    this was deep, get it lol

  7. SadPerson on September 21, 2019 at 8:04 pm

    Why am I always so shy,quiet, nervous,antisocial? My friends keep laughing together while I’m so quiet and not talking to anyone, I barely participate in anything :( and if someone bullies me I get scared and look down like I’m a scared child

    • Adrian on November 22, 2019 at 1:42 am

      There is a difference between being anti-social and being unsociable and I think you mean unsociable (as I am): unsociable means to not really enjoy socialising whereas anti-social behaviour would be crime for example (something that damages the lives of other people).

  8. AMK on September 23, 2019 at 10:31 pm

    Honestly, best response you can say to them… ”EW!” and look at them in disgust and walk away if they ever insult you. Ignore them else wise. Their awareness will. slowly. sink. in.

  9. mike n on November 22, 2019 at 12:24 pm

    I agree with most of your article but feel “fake it till you make it” can do more harm than good.
    When you realize most people are faking and your just faking to keep up I feel it would fall into just going with the flow to make things easier.
    I think it would make more sense if we all admited we have no clue what’s going on and worked together to help each other find our way. As a team instead of isolated individuals.

  10. Milnebay Artisan on November 27, 2019 at 10:45 pm

    Thank you very much. This is very helpful to me.

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