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Learning to speak up ―empowering the self for a better life

by Northern Life

Here’s how to start speaking up for yourself and change your life. 

Learning to speak up for yourself as an adult without being triggered has become more challenging. Many of us were the experiment of ineffective parenting, and the outcomes include experiencing powerful emotions or being easily overwhelmed by our surroundings. Overall, generational trauma makes us feel small in such a big world that does not change, inflicting the lack of courage to speak up when something crosses boundaries. 

Disagreement can be done without conflict, and you can assert your beliefs without offending others, which is something many have to learn as adults. Of course, speaking up for yourself exposes you to getting out of your comfort zone and taking risks with people, which doesn’t always result in great relations or outcomes. But this way of living is definitely better than being a people-pleaser and living in the shadows of other individuals.

Therefore, here’s how to start speaking up for yourself and change your life. 

Manage the discomfort 

Our bodies know when we’re feeling threatened or simply disrespected by making us feel shaky, for example, but everyone has a different nudge. Regardless, when we bear that, it’s a sign that we may need to speak out for ourselves, so interpreting these signs allows you to listen to your body and mind’s responses to the world. 

We must speak up in numerous situations to solve a problem. Let’s take an example from our work life. Let’s say you work in a poor environment where your health is constantly at risk, but you don’t have the courage to bring these issues up since management can sometimes be intimidating when faced with unsolved problems. Unfortunately, these situations lead to workplace accidents that can be avoided, but since most employees are afraid of speaking up, they get injured. 

Exercise being less defensive 

During an argument or a moment of panic, our emotions become stronger than we would like to say, hindering our capacity to solve the situation. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being vulnerable and showing your sensitive side. Still, your arguments will be weak and unconvincing as you become angrier and more stressed within the circumstances. 

You may start by doing some anger management exercises that will also lower stress and give you a solution to calming down in the middle of the storm. For instance, learn to breathe slower and deeper to reduce anger and accompany it with progressive muscle relaxation. In the long term, you’ll find your mind being more relaxed with regular exercise, such as walking or running. 

Change the approach in different environments 

All people are different, and approaching them similarly is undoubtedly not advised if you want to win an argument and make yourself justice. Therefore, you must adapt how you speak up for yourself according to your environment and the person you’re communicating with because everyone responds differently to braveness. 

It would be best to have a broader understanding of how diverse people are because you may encounter individuals with personality disorders who need to be approached differently. At the same time, analysing the environment you’re in, from the workplace to your family is essential to create a proper way to be understood and helped when needed. Sometimes, we deal with adult bullies, so you may need help from outside while handling a discussion with a narcissist shouldn’t be done directly. 

Align your expectations with reality 

In the media or even through people’s perception, speaking up for yourself will immediately silence the opponent, and you’ll receive what you want in an instant just for being brave about it. However, in reality, things are significantly different since, most of the time, being courageous has some consequences. 

Depending on who you’re talking with and how tense the situation is, you might be surprised to see people more agitated with laying your cards on the table. Others will be ignorant, and only a few will actually listen and try to negotiate a solution that favours both sides. Therefore, learn to minimise your expectations, but try not to be influenced by unpleasant outcomes and speak up as confidently as possible. 

Avoid over-explaining yourself 

As a person with low self-esteem, you may be prone to over-explain your argument or perspective. You may do it in consideration of being less aggressive, but it’s a trap in which you fall when you’re uncomfortable. Offering too many arguments might turn your opinion into taking the other person’s side, which is what you want to avoid. 

Sometimes, trying to clarify the situation too much won’t leave enough space for the other person to come up with an argument. Going back and forth in a conversation might work in elucidating the problem, but that doesn’t mean you must offer a broader insight into why you feel like that. If someone disrespects you similarly to your past partners, providing this information won’t be helpful in the conversation. On the contrary, it can add fuel to the fire. 

Discover or be yourself 

The journey of starting to speak up for yourself will have you thinking you don’t know yourself enough ―or you need to change. It may be true that discovering yourself will definitely help in building confidence and self-empowerment, but remember not to lose yourself within all these ideas of your ideal personality. 

Accepting who you are, whether an introvert or extrovert, can showcase your strengths better than your weaknesses. Talkative people may be able to give fast responses and assert dominance in a conversation better, while quieter ones might be able to serve one single line to make people respect their boundaries and never cross them again. Therefore, don’t leave yourself behind. 

Wrapping up 

What do you think about these recommendations on trying to speak out for yourself? While they’re considerably helpful, you must learn to practice being more assertive and building solid boundaries because it takes time to create healthy responses in accordance with the world. Hence, be kind to yourself and start to be more consistent in taking your side.