I don’t abandon myself by putting others on pedestals, nor do I abandon others by putting myself above them.
I don’t escape into superiority, nor do I collapse into shame.
I commit to not going “one-up” or “one-down.”
But, simple as this sounds, it’s not always easy.
Part of how I adapted to stress as a child was by abandoning myself and becoming overly focused on the feelings and needs of others. I internalized loads of self-judgments, inhibited myself and tried to become whatever it was that others would approve of or judge kindly.
If, like me, you were raised in cultures where your feelings and needs were deemed less important than your behaviors and performance, you may also struggle with some degree of self-abandonment or lack of self-trust as an adult.
You might doubt whether or not you matter.
You might wonder if you are ever good enough.
You might find yourself self-silencing in important moments, and then regretting it later.
You might struggle with standing up for yourself and setting healthy boundaries.
Learning how to stand up for ourselves with love, however, is an act of self-care that also nurtures our self-respect and our ability to stay in life-affirming connections with others.
Sometimes, this starts with loving up the inner critic we developed as children, and replacing that voice with a far more nurturing and loving inner environment.
Deliberately and painstakingly detoxing all the mean things inside my own head is a foundational element of reclaiming my voice and setting loving boundaries. If I don’t detox my internalized judgments, they will either inhibit me so that I don’t stand up for myself at all, or, they build up into finally standing up for myself with force, hostility and antagonism.
If you struggle with this too, you may want to join our February member calls as our deep dive focus in February is: From self-criticism to self-love. How can I love up my inner critic?
In the meantime, here are a few more key elements that may support you in standing up for yourself with love:
Speak from Personal Experience:
Keep the focus on your subjective, vulnerable experience, instead of appealing to authorities or groups. How? Try replacing sentence starters like “Everyone knows that …” or “We all think that you … “ with “I’ve been thinking … I’ve been feeling … I’ve been noticing …”
Express how you feel and what you need and want, rather than blaming or accusing others. For example, instead of saying “You always ignore my feelings,” try saying “When I don’t hear from you for a week, I feel disappointed and miss you. Can you tell me more about what gets in the way of checking in with me?”
Be explicit and clear about what you are and are not available for. Clear boundaries are a gift to your relationships and expressing your boundaries will serve deeper, more authentic connections with the right people. The only people who won’t like it when you set boundaries are the ones who benefit from your not having any boundaries – and those relationships may need to be re-examined.
When we are well resourced and take good care of ourselves, we simply have more to give, and can be more grounded and confident when standing up for ourselves. Get enough rest, practice good self-care habits, and engage in activities that nourish your mind, body, and spirit. Seek support from your friends, family, or a therapist and role play so that you can practice standing up for yourself in safe spaces first. Your support network can provide encouragement and help you feel more confident in speaking up for yourself.
Looking for some mini-lessons on getting your voice back? Check out this YouTube video and avoid abandoning yourself.
It’s much easier to stand up for yourself when you can trust who you are and the intention you’re bringing to a situation. Watch this video for help on how to trust yourself.
And finally, if you’re local in the Twin Cities, join me Sunday February 5th at 10:30am at the Lake Harriet Spiritual Community for a talk on Trusting the Process.
How do you stand up for yourself in ways that are non-violent and loving? Leave me a comment; I’d love to know!