“Trust your own instincts, go inside, follow your heart. Right from the start. go ahead and stand up for what you believe in. As I’ve learned, that’s the path to happiness.”~ Lesley Ann Warren
Ever notice that many survivors of toxic relationships tend to be people pleasers? It’s true – we want to be assertive and to stand up for ourselves, but we feel like we need to know exactly how assertive is TOO assertive.
After all, we don’t want to upset anyone. It just isn’t in our nature to be jerks for no reason, and we most certainly do not want to deal with conflict – we’d sooner live in misery than willfully enter into conflict – at least before we get to the point in our healing when we understand the value of standing up for ourselves.
Of course, as empaths, we look for and try to walk that fine line – that place of balance between assertive and aggressive, because we care how people feel and we don’t want to make them feel bad if we can avoid it.
We think about it far too much, and we ask ourselves, “Am I assertive to the point of being aggressive?”
The goal is to find that fine line in between too much and too little assertiveness. It’s really about balance and understanding how to pick your battles effectively. It’s about knowing exactly when to push a little more, and when to kind of step back.
It is about learning to establish personal boundaries for yourself and for others around you.
The Truth About Personal Power After a Toxic Relationship With a Narcissist
There are a lot of moving pieces to the whole narcissistic abuse recovery process. As we work on our healing and our personal evolution, we also must find our own voices, and that will include learning to stand up for ourselves like we did before we tangled with a toxic person in a relationship – or maybe even in ways that we never have before.
If you’re going to create and maintain personal change in your life intentionally, you must learn how to do exactly that – to overcome the need to shy away from changes that make you uncomfortable.
For example, let’s say someone at work is causing you a lot of stress because they won’t stop hitting on you at the workplace. Maybe you feel nervous about reporting this to your HR department, so you don’t say anything at all. Instead, you quietly tolerate it as your coworker relentlessly pursues and abuses you.
Is this situation comfortable in any way, shape or form? Absolutely not. You will dread going to work and you will remain on constant alert when you’re there. You will be mentally and physically affected by the stress of the harassment and abuse. So, you’re essentially putting yourself in a longterm misery situation in order to save yourself a few minutes of discomfort.
Of course, you already know you DO have the power to CHANGE this – and all you’d have to do is tolerate a few minutes of discomfort during the time you make your report to HR. After that, the situation can be resolved for you and this will take away a possible lifetime of ongoing harassment.
How to Stand Up for Yourself
It’s time to learn to be more assertive, my friend.
Now, listen. I know that the idea of assertiveness seems too simple to create any real personal change in your life, believe me. But as a survivor of narcissistic abuse, it’s not always easy to stand up for yourself, especially when it involves conflict, or it feels risky.
So, how do you deal with it? How do you learn to finally stand up for yourself?
You can try dialing down the risk and build your assertiveness muscles in the way you deal with the dozens, if not hundreds, of small decisions you make every day. Think of all the times you choose to stand in your power or to go with the flow. Here are some top tips to help you stand up for yourself every day.
1. Start small
If you feel less than confident about being assertive, take baby steps at first. You can start by adjusting your posture to a more confident shoulder back and chin up stance, that says to the world “take me seriously.” If you’re a serial apologizer, try removing “sorry” from your everyday personal dictionary and save it for when an apology is warranted.
Resolve to try being more assertive at every opportunity. You probably know that it takes time and preparation to form new habits, with the latest research saying 66 days is the magic number. Schedule a reminder in your calendar, and practice asserting your needs daily for 66 days until it becomes automatic for you.
Maybe you’ve got a difficult meeting or conversation coming up, or there are some situations which always make you feel anxious and small. Try imagining the scene and write yourself a script where you stay in your power. Work out what feels right for you and try it the next time such a situation arises.
4. Practice patience
You might find that your new assertiveness provokes negative responses in people who are used to you being compliant. It’s a good practice to stay calm but assertive if they try to override you. Don’t react or be defensive, count to ten and stay in your power.
5. Be clear
When you’re standing up for yourself, it’s important to be very clear about your position and to avoid infusing it with emotion. Be straightforward and say what you want without being passive-aggressive or indirect.
6. Practice saying no
When you’re clear about what you want and what you don’t want, saying No politely but firmly becomes a whole lot easier. Work out what’s important to you and don’t leave room for doubt in the mind of the asker. Saying no doesn’t make you a mean or rude person, it’s a sign of strength and certainty, and everyone will know where they stand.
7. Watch these videos to help you learn to stand up for yourself, set boundaries and to take back your power.
Angela Atkinson is a Certified Life Coach and the author of more than 20 books on narcissism, narcissistic abuse recovery and related topics. A recognized expert on narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder who has studied and written extensively on narcissistic relationships since 2006, Atkinson was inspired to begin her work as a result of having survived toxic relationships of her own.
Atkinson offers trauma-informed coaching and has certifications in life coaching, level 2 therapeutic model, CBT coaching, integrative wellness coaching, and NLP. She is a certified trauma support coach and certified family trauma professional. She also has a professional PTSD counseling certification. Her mission is to help those who have experienced the emotional and mental devastation that comes with narcissistic abuse in these incredibly toxic relationships to (re)discover their true selves, stop the gaslighting and manipulation and move forward into their genuine desires – into a life that is exactly what they choose for themselves.
Along with her solution-focused life coaching experience, Atkinson’s previous career in journalism and research helps her to offer both accurate and understandable information for survivors of abuse in a simple-to-understand way that helps to increase awareness in the narcissistic abuse recovery community. Atkinson founded QueenBeeing.com Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support, the SPANily Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups and the Life Makeover Academy. In her life coaching practice, Atkinson’s clients enjoy her personalized approach that allows and encourages them to become the best possible versions of themselves and to succeed in doing what they love most. She offers individual and group coaching for victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse at NarcissisticAbuseRecovery.Online and NarcissismSupportCoach.com.