I come from a family where deviation from the expected norms is akin to blasphemy.
It’s hard for anyone to do what feels right to them, because everyone is so worried about doing what feels right to everyone else.
Just this past spring break, I had a terrible time trying to convince my family that I should be “allowed” to stay at TM’s new apartment.
Granted, I honestly felt like I needed their permission. Here I was, a grown-ass young woman, asking my mommy if I could go hang out at a boy’s house tonight.
Get real, right?
Well, I had to do that, very fast.
It didn’t go so well.
First of all I spent the whole week leading up to my trip home terrified about even asking the question. TM had been pestering about it for months, ever since I got my plane ticket home, and I still couldn’t ask. It wasn’t until a few days before I was set to leave that I called my mother and practically pissed myself asking.
“I was wondering what you would think about me staying at TM’s place the second week of I’m home…”
HOLD IT RIGHT THERE. Major issues with this request all ready. “I was wondering”?? “what would YOU think”?? I should have told her straight up what I was doing. But I didn’t have the guts to say it to her.
Eventually it led to me chickening out and staying home the nights that TM would have loved to have me there, and it put a huge strain on our relationship. Everyone kept telling me not to do it – my grandparents said no cuz “your mom wouldn’t like it”, my mom said no cuz “your grandparents wouldn’t like it”, and it’s like – who’s going to take responsibility for this??
Eventually there was a huge blowout the weekend after I’d finally decided to stay with TM. My mom and I were fighting on the phone, and I almost didn’t go to Easter dinner because of it.
Eventually I did make it to dinner. Mom didn’t talk to me. And she didn’t talk to me for a couple of days after that, either. Eventually we went out to eat and she apologized for her behavior (something I promise you I wasn’t expecting in a million years). But you can see how quickly letting other people make you doubt yourself can ruin everything, right?
I still don’t know how to stand up for myself, especially to my family. I care so much what other people think of me. But it’s hurting me, and it’s hurting my relationship, and I just know it’s going to hurt my ability to be a good mother down the line, if I can’t even have faith in myself now.
So! I’ve come up with 5 quick and easy phrases to say whenever someone is making me start to doubt myself and what I think is right. Here’s how to stand up for yourself against the well-meaning (but sometimes horribly misguided) advice and opinions of a Concerned Party:
How to Stand Up For Yourself Phrase #1: “I don’t necessarily share that opinion. I’m afraid we’ll have to respectfully disagree.”
To be used when a Concerned Party tries to push their opinion onto you in an attempt to get you to “see the light” and “come around” to their way of thinking.
This is probably going to be THE most important phrase that I learn to use. I always feel like my thoughts and beliefs are being drowned out by those of others – sometimes, ones that I don’t even share! Learning how to say what I don’t believe may help me more clearly define what I do believe, which will in turn make me even more confident at trusting my own thoughts and beliefs.
How to Stand Up For Yourself Phrase #2: “That’s something SO and I are talking through. We’re going to figure it out.”
To be used when a Concerned Party expresses disagreement with the way you and your SO are planning to do things, or disbelief that the two of you can work it out together.
A lot of people are going to feel some kind of way about everything you do. They’re going to have an opinion about the way you handle your finances, the way you live your life, the career you choose, the goals you set out, the way you raise your children, the age at which you get married, etc etc. I think this will be a useful phrase to help me emphasize the fact that he and I are working through decisions that should be the sole jurisdiction of our household.
How to Stand Up For Yourself Phrase #3: “I appreciate the advice, but this is what I’ve decided.”
To be used when a Concerned Party is pressuring you to change a decision that you’ve already made, in order to suit something that they consider “better” or “right.”
This is definitely very important for me. I’ve gone back on decisions countless times because someone has approached me and told me the way they thought I should be doing things. And I’m sad to say that I listened. Going forward, I hope to have more conviction in the decisions that I make, and more gumption to be able to stand up to people and tell them how it’s going to be, because what’s done is done. I’m not going to let myself waver out of fear of someone else’s worries, opinions and regrets.
How to Stand Up For Yourself Phrase #4: “I have faith in myself, and I believe that this is what’s right for me.”
To be used when a Concerned Party expresses doubts about your ability to choose things for yourself, or to know what’s best or even good for you.
This is the one that’s probably the most important in general. You have to believe in yourself. Because if you don’t even believe in yourself, then how are you going to expect others to believe in you? You have to have faith that you are going to make it out alright, no matter what happens. If things don’t work out, it’ll be a lesson learned. And if they do, you’ll be happier than you ever could have imagined. When you show that you have the confidence to know that what you’re doing is right, then everything else will fall into place.
Now, I’m not saying that you should completely ignore everyone else’s advice. They might have some valuable insight to pass on. I myself continue to go to many people for advice. After all, I’m just one person, and the combined experiences of several others will help me to make more informed decisions.
However, I am saying that it is important to know what you think, and what you feel and believe as a person, as an independent human being living in this world. It is your own life that you have to live, after all. You can’t spend all of it going around trying to live it the way someone else thinks you should. They’re living their life that way because that’s the way they need to live it. If you feel they have something that could be of value, it is always in your best interests to listen. But you don’t have to automatically defer to someone else. Chances are they’re struggling through this crazy game of life just as much as you. And no one knows how you’re going to play the game. You have to figure those rules out for yourself.
All it takes is a little bit of courage, and a whole lot of balls. But you’ve got those. (And if you don’t, borrow them from someone until you get your own. Make sure to give them back though! Can’t have people goin around being too ballsy, now – that’s just obscene.)