“Don’t Take Anything Personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.” -Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements.

Most of us were raised to try and get along with other people; to avoid unnecessary conflict and treat others with respect, and sometimes we encounter jerks, right? Or maybe they’re not a jerk, per se, maybe they have inadvertently insulted you in some way and are oblivious to the fact that there is steam coming out of your ears, or that you are on the verge of tears because of their insensitive remark. Ok – so maybe they are an oblivious, insensitive jerk.

So anyway, someone has (regardless of intent) insulted you in some way.

Do you:

A. Let it go and fester about it for the next several years.
B. Blow your top, scream, holler and make it obvious that you’re unhappy with them, or
C. Proactively stand up for yourself in a calm, cool and confident manner

People who chose A appropriately chose that letter because they are “avoidant.” Avoidance of conflict is a natural tendency to many, but it is brutal on ones self esteem and teaches people that they can treat you badly without consequence.

People who chose B are prone to “blow outs”. It feels good to go off on someone who has been rude or insensitive, but your reputation as a hot head likely proceeds you and people may seem to give you greater leeway, but it isn’t out of respect as much as fear, and they certainly don’t take you seriously.

Those who chose C, well why are you reading this article anyway? You probably have better things to do, you already know this stuff.

Actually, my guess is that most of us already do know how to stand up for ourselves, it’s the ‘doing it’ part that is difficult. For a quick refresher, let’s go over the basic tenets of standing up for yourself when someone has treated you in a way you dislike:

  1. Take a deep breath. Take a moment to think about what was said or done.
  2. Check in with yourself about your feelings. Are you angry, embarrassed, sad? A combination of feelings?
  3. Use an “I statement” to express how you feel. I statements are awkward when you first start using them, but they work well because they are indisputable; no one can argue about how you feel. (An ‘I statement’ is something like, “I feel angry about what you said.”)
  4. Follow up with an affirmative statement about yourself and your worth (i.e., “I am an intelligent, strong person.”)

The response of the offending party can vary. You may get an apology if the person either regrets their remark or genuinely didn’t realize they had offended you. On the other hand, you could also get more rudeness or the offending party may laugh at you, in which case you can firmly deduct that this person is indeed a jerk of the highest order. King of Jerks, even. Sir Jerkingham of Jerkville. And, you can’t reason with that. You can’t “mature” your way out of it by expressing yourself and having a decent conversation that may result in some sort of mutual respect and understanding. You do have choices here, though.

You can:

A. Return the insult and with even more nastiness. And flip them off for good measure.
B. Give them an atomic wedgie. Or a swirly if you’re really mad.
C. Walk away, knowing that you said what you needed to say. You’re not responsible for their reaction and don’t have to play along.

(This is kind of like a choose-your-own-adventure article, isn’t it? I wonder how it’ll end?)

Knowing how to stand up for yourself and how to handle any potential reactions is useful, but only if you actually put those steps into action. Convincing yourself that it is important to follow through with standing up for yourself (the ‘doing it’ part) is crucial. There are lots of good reasons to stand up for yourself; you’ll feel better about yourself, you will be teaching people how to treat you, you’ll feel more confident. All that good stuff. But, most importantly, you are teaching YOURSELF that you are of value and that you have standards for the way you allow others to treat you. That requires self love that is hard-earned and comes with a lot of other good things, like enjoying your own company and seeing the positive aspects of yourself, regardless of the opinions of others.

“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.” -Brene Brown

Confidence is probably one of the most attractive qualities a person can have. Yet, ironically, it can be very difficult for people to allow themselves to feel confident. Between influences of the media and the general tendency to compare oneself to others, a person’s self-esteem can plummet without much effort.

Besides formal psychiatric, cognitive behavioral and pharmaceutical therapies, there are simple steps one might take to help combat these feelings of low self-esteem. One such outlet may be in the form of a hobby.

This might remind the reader of the trite age old expression, “Hey, why don’t you get a hobby?” This expression is often used in response to the gloomy Eeyore character trope who is always in some sort of depressed rut. This isn’t to say that depression can be cured by simply finding something to distract oneself from the real underlying root. No, what I’m getting at is an effective yet unassuming method of boosting one’s confidence while still staying true to one’s core identity.

Hobbies can serve various roles in helping to build confidence, and there are several levels to this process.

First, a hobby is an outlet to escape the sometimes mundane, unappealing and even disappointing aspects of our lives. When you’re sitting in your room trying to teach yourself a few chords on the guitar, you are entering a new world, one which consists only of what’s going on in your creative headspace. Many people find this headspace to be a relief from the thoughts that often plague our minds.

Secondly, hobbies are an avenue to finding an applied purpose. One of the common tenets of low self-esteem is a seeming lack of purpose. Sometimes it can be difficult for you to believe that you’ll find your true purpose or passion. However, even if baking or photography (or whatever your favorite pasttime may be) doesn’t become your career, you know that you have a way of bringing joy to people in the form of delicious pastries or bringing new life to moments and places people might take for granted in the form of your art. There’s meaning there that can’t

Moreover, hobbies can physiologically boost one’s mood and, thus, enhance one’s confidence. If fitness becomes your new hobby, for example—and only when done in a healthy and non-obsessive manner—it can generally raise one’s endorphin and dopamine levels to the point where one’s attitude toward life and oneself is made significantly more positive.

Finally, a good hobby brings pride. I’m not talking about the abrasive and dangerous “seven deadly sins” level of pride that tends to be off-putting. I’m referring to the natural pride one should have in oneself for simply being a living, breathing human being with thoughts, dreams and talents—even those that have yet to be realized. When you find that hobby that makes your proud, you want to show it off, not to be braggadocios, but because we are all meant to share our talents with each other in what is known to many philosophers as the human connection, the human experience.

So, share your next published article with your Facebook friends, invite your friends to your hacky sack championship tournament, sing your heart out at open mic night. Most importantly, don’t be too shy to find the thing that makes you happy. Try new things, do what you love, and always take care of yourself!

If you are in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a free, 24-hour hotline at 1.800.273.8255. If your issue is an emergency, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.