If you’re shy and timid, standing up for yourself can seem like something out of your comfort zone and may seem unfamiliar. However, in certain situations, if you don’t stand up for yourself, people can walk all over you.

Being assertive, which is simply being more confident, and standing up for yourself may take time, but it can happen with some practice.

How to stand up for yourself:

Be direct but polite – If something is bothering you, then you should tell the person because they may not know that they’re making you anxious or that you’re feeling some type of way. You can frame it so that you are expressing how you are feeling, not attacking the other person. 

Better posture – If you are shy, you may not come across as assertive. So it’s important to carry yourself confidently. Back straight, shoulders back and on you go. Just doing that can make you feel more confident before you even start talking.

Think before responding – Some people are always in attack mode and can say things in haste. Before you respond, think about what they said and respond in a rational manner. Once you’ve gathered your thoughts you can email the person if you’re hesitant to go up to them, or send them a text message. Sometimes this helps people to consider their words more carefully, or not react in a defensive way.

Saying no is okay – If you have too much work to do and a colleague asks you to do something for them urgently, you need to be able to refuse. Politely tell them then you have urgent deadlines and cannot attend to the given task just yet, but you will be sure to do it once you have time. You also need to be able to say no to friends too, when you need to.

It’s okay to walk away – In some cases, some people may not agree with you at all and may not want to come to an agreement. In these situations, it’s okay to walk away and come back once you have cleared your head and have gathered your thoughts.

Situations where you can stand up for yourself:

  • In a work setting – If you feel like your superior is putting you down all the time and not giving you the same project opportunities as other colleagues
  • Relationships – When your partner makes you feel small and unheard or even when a family member expects too much from you
  • When someone wastes your time – This can become very frustrating. For instance, if you’ve made plans with friends and they show up an hour late. It’s okay for you to let them know that your time is valuable. 

The next time you’re stepping out of your comfort zone and standing up for yourself, keep in mind this quote by Maya Angelou: “You teach people how to treat you by what you allow, what you stop, and what you reinforce.”


Tell us: How do you stand up for yourself? 

Read more here on how to befriend your anxiety.