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Pointers for standing up for yourself without losing your cool

To be able to tell someone in a calm, assertive manner how their behaviour is adversely affecting you, and what you would like them to do, is an essential, and very satisfying life skill. It’s not easy at first. There are plenty of situations where you can practise on strangers, friends, family members, and your children.

By doing this, you are modelling a non-aggressive way of standing up for yourself, and letting others know that you are worthy of fair and decent treatment.

It’s pretty easy to demand that someone do as you want them to do. However, the other person is likely to feel disrespected, and will most likely not feel the urge to co-operate. He or she may even become defensive, and say or do something nasty, either overtly or covertly.

When we are reluctant to assert ourselves, due to fear, conditioning etc, we may feel frustrated, disempowered, trapped, melancholic etc much of the time.

Example 1

Your significant other has told you that he will be back at a particular time, and he or she is an hour late. This has happened before.

My suggestion would be to ask him or her calmly why he or she is late. Then you could tell him or her how you felt – worried, unloved, neglected etc. You could then tell him respectfully what you want to happen in the future.

When he co-operates the next time, thank him or her for being reliable.

Example 2

Your mother tells you that you need to put your child to bed at a certain time, or that your child needs more discipline.

Let her know that you feel disempowered, incompetent etc. when told how to raise your child.

You may want to calmly tell her that you would prefer that she only give advice, when you ask for it.

Thank her when she ‘bites her tongue’ later on, when she would normally tell you what you need to do.

Example 3

Your youngster is riding a trike in the house and bangs into the walls a lot.

You might go over to her and tell her that you want her to stop and listen to you. Inform her that if she crashes into the walls, she might wreck the trike. You could also tell her that she will leave marks on the wall, that won’t look very nice, or that the banging noise is very irritating to you.

After that, you could nicely ask her to stop before she crashes into anything. If she co-operates, as requested, thank her.

If she does it again, tell her that the trike will be going away for a short (reasonable) time, if she hits the wall again. It’s then vital to follow through.