Article by Kit Kittelstad

Remember that time when a friend or co-worker said something really nasty to you? Sure you do. Your face got red, your fists clenched, and you spent the rest of the day in a hidden (or unhidden) rage. Boy, oh boy. On that car ride home, you knew just what to say. You were ripe with witty insults that would’ve sent that scoundrel spinning. However, it was too little too late.

There’s something very, very dangerous about not confronting a bully head-on. They’ll do it again, and again. And you’ll take it—again, and again. This is bad. Very bad. Because when the day finally arrives that you spit something back, it might come across as crazed or irrational. Although that bully was just poking at you today, the series of prior pokes and jabs left you with a big ol’ bruise, and that’s why your lid is popping over. All of a sudden, innocent you are in the wrong and Mr. or Ms. Bully has come out on top.

This is the precise moment we’re going to try to avoid here. In the moment when it’s time to stand up for yourself, I hope just one of these loving reminders will flash into your mind.

1. No one else will do it.


OK, this isn’t universally true. You might have a great friend in your corner who is never afraid to speak her mind. She’ll stand up for you, sure, but only you have to be you every day. With that in mind, it’s important to be your number one advocate. You have to protect and defend yourself. What if no one else is there to do it for you in any given moment? Don’t you want to know you’re up for the challenge?

It’s important to be your number one advocate. You have to protect and defend yourself.

We try to take care of ourselves, don’t we? What about that gym membership we paid for? How about those times we order whole-wheat toast instead of white? If we’re willing to at least try to take care of our bodies, how about we also take care of our selves? This includes our happiness, our contentment with life and our innate ability to take care of every corner of our well-being.

2. You’ll feel good.


This is also not true at first glance; however, you will feel good in the end. After the initial pang of panic and the awful, awful discomfort of a confrontation, you’ll feel good that you stood up to your bully. You’ll have put a little bit of a wrinkle in their ways, too. Perhaps the next bullying encounter won’t occur quite so soon. Perhaps they’ll think twice because you just might bite back next time—as you should. Keeping your tone as delightful as a daisy, express your disapproval, and, whatever happens next, don’t apologize for doing so. Remember, who else will do it for you?

And, anyway, don’t you think you’re valuable? Don’t you think you’re worthwhile? Aren’t you a nice person who’s turned out all right? Isn’t that worth guarding and protecting? I hate to say it, but it kind of boils down to self-love. We protect and defend people we love. Why shouldn’t we put ourselves on that list? The best expression of self-love is self-preservation. Why should you be afraid to say no or retort back with disapproval when the time comes? We seek out happiness in so many ways, don’t we? Allow yourself to feel good, knowing you protected someone very dear—yourself.

3. The more you do it, the better you’ll get at it.


It’s like saying no. Some of us have tremendous difficulty pronouncing one of the shortest words. The more you do it, however, the easier it becomes. The same applies for standing up for yourself. We instantly know when we’re being mistreated. Instantly! But we don’t always put up our shields. Oftentimes, in fact, we nod our heads and say it’s OK when it’s really not! If, in that moment of recognition, we reply calmly, expressing our disapproval, each ensuing battle cry becomes easier and easier.

When the next encounter arrives, I wish you all the strength and self-love in the world. If you won’t do it, who will? You’ll also feel just a tiny bit proud after the initial prick of pain has ceased. And the more you do it, the easier it’ll become. There isn’t a single thing wrong with sticking up for ourselves. Together, let’s do it and watch our lives click a little bit more securely into that happy place. Good luck out there!

A version of this article originally appeared on

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