Not many of us are lucky enough to have been born with a sassy, confident, assertive streak. Standing up for yourself can be a bit tricky. You may even experience the physical symptoms of anxiety when something is asked of you or done to you that is just too much.
Your heart starts to throb in your throat, pumping heat through your ears, deafening you with tiny voices screaming “this is not right, it’s not right!”. You KNOW with everything in you that those voices are correct and justified, but you end up giving up just because “it’s not worth it”.
Sometimes it really isn’t worth the explosion, creating drama and causing conflict. As adults, altercations aren’t something we irresponsibly jump into. Tackling a confrontational situation should be a calculated decision where you’ve assessed the problem and establish that something positive should come out of what you’re about to say or do.
Growing a backbone is so difficult and is not something that you can develop overnight, but there are ways you can handle your situation without having to vomit out your thoughts and create verbal chaos.
When someone thinks that they have the right to take advantage of your kindness/weakness, there are 3 routes you can take to help yourself.
1.Reevaluate your situation and find inner peace:
This suggestion is easier said than done and may not be an option for many.
If this is happening to you at work, think about finding a new job. If it’s your lover, consider letting go of them. If it is a friend or colleague, consider replacing or distancing yourself from them. If it’s even just the store you shop at that’s ripping you off, find a new one to take your loyalty to.
Once you have reevaluated your worth, find inner peace. Don’t change yourself or change what you do for anyone. Always remember that in life, you cannot expect to receive equal respect as what you give. Try accepting that reality. Unfortunately, this is one of Life’s human truths. If you give someone 10 Dollars, don’t expect to receive 10 Dollars back. You will set yourself up for disappointment. At the same time, an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. Be your decent self and appreciate the giving, beautiful soul that you are. Be proud of what a good person you are and how you’ve been brought up, but just don’t offer more of yourself. Being taken advantage of brings about a sense of betrayal, but don’t let it eat you up inside. Rather rationalize and center yourself. Recognize that you would never do this to someone else. Be proud of and appreciate yourself for who you are and how much your heart is willing to give. It’s something so special that shouldn’t need validation from anyone else but you. Always remember that good Karma will come back to you in another form.
2. Find an alternative solution for them:
Example 1: You are being asked to do something at work that is an extra favor and it’s not a simple one. Let’s say, you have to drive 3 hours to collect something but you’re actually in the marketing department and it is not a part of your job description. It is not something you are paid to do and you are losing your own valuable work time. You know you shouldn’t be going that extra mile. Rather find a solution. Call the drivers to see if they’re available, call someone who may be traveling in that direction anyways, find out about courier rates and tell your superiors that instead of the company paying for your petrol they can rather pay X amount for a professional courier service.
If this is a case of a friend asking something of you that is ridiculous and if you’re finding it so hard to blatantly say “no”, find an alternative solution for them. This makes people feel a little silly, and in future situations such as these they will probably turn to that solution instead of you.
Example 2: You are being expected to collect the same person on the way to work every day and this means you have to take a detour and wake up 15 minutes earlier every morning. Tell them that you have decided to be in the office extra early from now on and send them the link to the Uber app. If they chat to you about it further, suggest that they speak to their superior at work about having the company helping him/her with transport. There is almost always another option.
Example 3: If your friend is asking to lend money from you for the tenth time, tell them that you’ve placed all your money into a 32 day account in order to save and you can’t access your funds for now, then suggest a solution! Send them a link to a bank loan site. There are so many “little loan” companies that he/she probably should consider if they keep having to ask you for money even if they promise to pay you back at the end of the month. Try adding a super sincere and apologetic tone as it may come across as a bit insulting to send such a link, but they will get the message. It may embarrass them enough to back off in this financial regard forever. It is not healthy to have that vibe in your life so get rid of it! Not your friendship, the habit. Get rid of their habit for them.
Stop making excuses and telling yourself that you may as well do this favor for someone because you’ve got the time or funds or because you feel bad if you are actually unnecessarily over-extending yourself. Especially if it’s something they’re able to do for themselves. It’s not fair on you. Always ask yourself “what would he/she have done if it weren’t for me?”. The answer to that is something to suggest to them.
There is always an alternative solution to asking or making you do something. The “advantage-taker” will always just automatically turn to you because you have allowed it in the past, and you have never suggested any other way. Don’t be manipulated or feel forced into anything. Value yourself and your time. You are not being a horrible person by suggesting an alternative solution so don’t feel bad! You are actually doing them (and yourself) a huge favor. Maybe they’ve never thought of any other idea before?
3. Be straight up:
If you feel safe enough, there is always the simplest option of being honest, in a sincere and tactful way. Sit the person down (or send a peaceful message if face-to-face interaction is too much confrontation), be direct and express that it makes you feel sad, hurt, uncomfortable, etc, when they expect so much of you. Explain why it’s unfair (“I don’t get the same in return from you”, “I’m not paid enough to be doing so much”, “It’s something you’re able to do and I feel like you’re just taking advantage of my love and care for you”).
If it’s your boss and that type of honesty isn’t something you can really express, just come up with a solution as previously mentioned. This also shows initiative, organization and management skills.
If it’s your lover who is taking advantage of you, you need to understand what a compromising, harmonious partnership is. When it is your partner who is chipping away at you and taking advantage of you, it is probably the most hurtful place to be in. Especially if he/she is not only taking advantage of you, but also taking you for granted. This is something unhealthy that you need to fix for the sake of your own happiness. The honesty option is probably the best way to handle this. Someone you are in a romantic relationship with should love you and hence understand you and want to work on this issue with you, in order to change this dynamic and ultimately make you happier together. If your honesty is dismissed, you probably need to see direction number 1 and consider replacing this poison. You are not in jail.
Whatever you choose to do, always remember to love the kind quality that you’ve been blessed with. Be proud of how you are able to give of yourself BUT ALWAYS put yourself first.
Love yourself more than you love anybody else, because only YOU truly have your own back in this world. Make room for lessons and experiences. Don’t become disheartened by unmet expectations of people. Appreciate what the universe has shown you, and put it behind you.
Be conscious in your decisions to fulfill favors for and expectations of people. Consciously listen to the voice in the corner of your mind and slowly grow that backbone. Work on yourself, there is always room for improvement. You owe it to yourself to be honest. You owe it to yourself to feel GOOD about your kindness and throw it around like glitter!
Just know when enough is enough and how to put your foot down when it’s not a genuine “pleasure” anymore.