Here’s What To Do If You Struggle To Stand Up For Yourself Or Be Assertive When It Counts The Most

Do you know people who just can’t help being rude and thoughtless?

They hurt your feelings without thinking twice. Most of the time, they’re unaware they’re doing it.

They cut you off with a snide remark, or give you “constructive criticism.”

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Without being asked, they offer to be your “personal life coach.” They give you unsolicited and often overbearing advice on your personal problems.

Their thoughtless commentary just rolls off their tongues and into your unsuspecting ear:

That style of pants is not very flattering to your body type.

You haven’t asked for a promotion YET?

Why are you letting that jerk of a husband (or wife) push you around?

Why did you get that model of car? Don’t you know it’s got the worst fuel economy?

You really should be recycling those bottles I saw in your trash.

How come you never answer the phone when I call you?

You leave the interaction feeling ashamed, dumb, guilty, belittled

What’s worse, you can’t stop thinking about the conversation long after it’s over—hours and days later. It rattles around in your head, not letting you relax, not letting you sleep, ruining your mood.

Why didn’t you stop them from laying into you?

Why did you just stand there, nodding in agreement when you weren’t in agreement?

Why did you apologize for something that you weren’t sorry about or that wasn’t your fault?

Why didn’t you stand up for yourself?

You Always Have The Perfect Comeback…Always Too Late

Oh, you have the perfect comeback. You know just what to say to defend yourself or your position.

Unfortunately, you don’t think of it until it’s too late. You can’t really bring it up now—the conversation has shifted. Or your interaction ended days ago, and you don’t want to seem petty and bring it up again out of the blue.

Content woman

The shame and guilt hounds you.

Why am I so weak?

Why can’t I think on my feet?

Why do I let this person get to me?

You tell yourself you have to be more on the ball, quicker to spot the rude comment, so you can have your comeback ready, but it’s so hard.

It’s almost as if your brain goes to screensaver when someone is belittling you. Or you’re too busy listening to what they’re saying, and it takes you too long to fully process that they’re being condescending, controlling, or critical.

At least, that’s what seems to be happening.

But underneath, what’s really happening is far more complex. It has to do with your inability to listen and respond—not just to others and their myriad of hurtful comments, but to yourself.

And The Pattern For This Starts In Childhood…

How are we not listening and responding to ourselves, you may ask?

To answer that, allow me to back up just a tad…

You see, as children, we were taught about what’s “right” and what’s “wrong” from our parents, caregivers, extended family, teachers, or authority figures. We learned that certain behaviors resulted in praise, and some behaviors resulted in a stern warning, spanking, or disapproval.

Playing in the street = wrong.

Sharing with your sister and brother = right.

Hitting the dog = wrong.

Helping mommy in the kitchen = right.

Yelling and screaming = wrong.

Contemplative woman looking out window

Sometimes our parents or authority figures told us that WE were “bad” for behaving a certain way.

Because we are helpless to care for ourselves at such a young age, the idea of displeasing our parents or adult caregivers frightened us. In our developing minds, being loved and accepted was tantamount to survival.

If we weren’t loved, we’d be abandoned. If we were abandoned, we’d perish.

We therefore equated disapproval and being “bad” with abandonment, and therefore peril, so we’d adjust our behavior, or find ways to cope with our big feelings in order to feel safe.

The perceived abandonment and rejection in childhood created a “wounding” in our psyche.

And by the way, it doesn’t matter how lovely of a childhood you think you had. Every one of us has suffered some type of wounding like this in childhood, because no parent or caregiver is perfect or can be there for a child every second of every day. And the wound can occur with siblings, peers, religious leaders, and teachers.

This wound is subconscious. We’re not aware of it most of the time. It is there, in the background, and it gets triggered whenever we are faced with criticism, control, judgment, or insult.

Someone says something insulting or critical, and a sinking feeling develops inside us.

It is fear.

What do we fear? That we will be abandoned and perish, the way we feared when we were too little to understand what it meant when we were disciplined or punished.

Of course, as adults we logically know we won’t perish if someone is rude or thoughtless toward us. But deep inside, our ego wounded self still believes this is true.

Our Ego Wounded Self Doesn’t Have A Sense Of Time

You might think, “Yeah, but I’m not a child anymore.”

Of course not. But your wounded self—the part of you who is ‘programmed’ with many false beliefs—doesn’t have a sense of time. The wounds you experienced when you were 2, or 5, or 12, still feel as raw and painful as if they happened yesterday…

Especially when you haven’t even acknowledged those wounds or allowed yourself to fully face your fear.

That’s why many of us allow the wounded part of ourselves that carries all the false beliefs of childhood to run our lives when things become tense, or when we are insulted or slighted.

We “become” that scared child who is desperate to survive and cope.

We self-abandon—numb out in the face of that fear and pain.

We do what we may have done as children to cope with being told we were “wrong”:

  • we comply
  • we cry
  • we automatically apologize
  • we go silent
  • we zone out

And that’s the reason why you have a hard time standing up for yourself in the moment, and sometimes even after the fact.

Your subconscious, wounded self is doing what it needs to do to “survive.”

In other words, you’re abandoning yourself in order to protect yourself.

How To Stop Abandoning Yourself And Free Yourself Of Guilt And Shame

As long as you allow your wounded self to run your life, you’ll never be free of inner torment.

You will be a magnet for obnoxious, unloving people, bullies, or narcissists who manipulate and abuse you. You’ll allow others to shame or guilt you.

That’s because people who lack appropriate boundaries (obnoxious people, bullies, and narcissists) will feel comfortable criticizing and controlling those who can’t or don’t know how to stand up for themselves.

If you know how to stand up for yourself—and can do so in the moment—you’ll be much less susceptible to the rudeness and abuse of others. You’ll be able to stop them in their tracks and tell them that you’re not available to what they’re saying and won’t stand by and listen any longer.

This type of skill requires more than just memorizing scripts or being quicker with the comebacks, though.

It requires learning how to be more loving to yourself by listening to your inner child—your inner source of guidance—and knowing what type of action it needs you to take on its behalf in order to feel understood and safe.

For the past 50 years (yes, 50!), I’ve been teaching individuals how to listen to their inner guidance in order to feel more confident, free themselves of guilt and shame, and have unconditional joy in their lives.

Now I’ve partnered with Flourish, so I can extend that help and guidance to as many people as possible, since almost everyone can benefit from this type of inner healing in their lives.

When you subscribe to our FREE Relationship Advice Newsletter, you get access to an accomplished community of carefully selected experts (like me!) giving you our best insights and strategies to overcome personal and emotional challenges. You’ll learn:

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  • The single biggest reason for painful, unpleasant feelings, and how to get relief from guilt, anxiety, and malaise in a matter of minutes, when you learn and apply a proven system
  • What to do when you find yourself sabotaging your life through fear, doubt, and endless second-guessing, so you can finally free yourself to live the life you were always meant to live, and be the person you were always meant to be
  • The 3 common myths about self love and self acceptance, and what you really need to do to have more self assurance and inner confidence in your life
  • How to access your inner wisdom and intuition all the time, so you can feel stronger and less attached to what others think of you
  • And much more

Imagine standing up for yourself, in the moment, in a calm, assertive manner that leaves you feeling empowered and relieved.

It can happen with the help of the excellent, expert insights you’ll get when you subscribe for FREE to Flourish.


Margaret Paul

Become The Best You Possible And Live Your Best Life

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