Answer this question: How often do you fight for other things or people? And how often do you fight for yourself?
Most of us don’t fight for ourselves—and for what’s important to us—nearly as often. Yet, doing so is essential.
Each time you fight for something at the cost of your needs, values, and beliefs, or the things that make you happy, you lose a little bit of yourself. Keep that up, and, eventually, you end up feeling empty. You look in the mirror and don’t recognize yourself.
You have not lost yourself forever, though. And each time you stand up—fight—for yourself, a little bit of you returns. You start to show up…for yourself.
My Shrinking Self
I stopped fighting for myself many years ago. I put my marriage, my kids, my literary agent, my mother…just about everyone…before myself and what I needed or wanted. I stopped speaking up or standing in my power. I didn’t say, “This is me. And this is what I think and feel, need and want, will accept and won’t.”
As a result, I shrank and all but disappeared.
One day a friend asked me, “Where did Nina go?”
I couldn’t answer at first, but now I know. I’d stopped fighting for myself and, instead, made my authentic self little, unimportant, and invisible.
We all change over time, but you don’t have to lose the essence of who you are. You don’t need to lose your beliefs and values, passions, and gifts. However, you must be willing to stand up for them if you want to keep them intact and part of your life.
The things that are essential and inherent to who you are remain the same. They stand the test of time. Even if you consistently fight for everyone and everything else, they get buried deep, deep inside. You have to uncover them, bring them to the forefront of your life, and stand guard over them.
Fight for Yourself
Recently, I was speaking with a friend about the many years I’d spent working to improve a specific relationship. She asked, “Are you willing to keep fighting for this relationship?”
I thought for a moment and replied, “I’ve been fighting for this relationship for years, and years, and years. By putting the relationship first, I got lost. Now I need to fight for myself.” In fact, the relationship could not survive if I did not show up fully and stand powerfully for myself.
My habit of not standing up for myself did not begin as an adult. In fact, it’s a habit born out of my youth.
When young, you don’t always feel able to fight for yourself. You may wish or need someone would stand up for you. When no one does, you feel powerless. So you shrink and play small. You stop speaking up and believing you are worthy or deserving of what you want—or of showing up authentically.
As an adult, if you want to begin fighting for yourself, you have to re-parent the “inner child,” the part of you that still feels young and powerless. To do so, you must choose to stand up for yourself—for the inner child who couldn’t previously or who needed help doing so.
I knew I had to choose to stand up for myself. What about you?
How to Fight for Yourself
I admit it… I’m teaching what I need to learn. But maybe as you’ve read this post, you realized that you, too, need to start fighting for yourself. So, let’s do it together.
Here are the things I’m doing to fight for myself. Why not try them, too?
1. Ask for what you want and need.
You have the right to request what you want and need. You’re worthy and deserving of these things. Vocalize your wants and needs. Don’t expect people to read your mind.
If your desires are important to you, stand firm. Do not put your wants and needs on the back burner because you think doing so will be easier, help a situation, or make someone feel better or like you more. Put them on the front burner, and watch over those pots!
2. Don’t settle for less.
We are taught to be okay with less than what we want and need rather than asking for more. Unlearn this! If something is important to you, don’t settle for less.
The decision to settle for something that is not up to par or not precisely what you want can create anger and resentment and a belief in lack. Plus, you affirm that you aren’t important, worthy, or deserving enough to have it when you accept less than what you desire.
That simply isn’t true. Yet, you strengthen that belief every time you settle…
Stand up for what you want and, in the process, affirm that you are important, worthy, and deserving.
3. Stop tolerating.
You have a choice to accept or tolerate when you get less than what you want or need. Settling is a lot like tolerating, but accepting is very different.
When you accept something, like not getting a raise, your spouse’s drinking, or the way your friend treats you, you have no emotion around the situation or person. On the other hand, when you tolerate, each time you are confronted by the person or situation, you feel angry, resentful, or hurt.
Over time, tolerating leads to misery. Why wouldn’t it? You’re consistently putting your wants and needs—and probably your values—second to those of the other person or situation. And you are not receiving the things that are important to your mental, emotional, or physical health.
Your happiness, health, and well-being are important, so fight for them.
4. Don’t play small to get along.
You may feel as if fighting for yourself is selfish. After all, you’ve been taught to be aware of—even put first—other people’s needs and desires, right? It’s possible to keep what other’s want in mind while you stand up for your desires and still get along. It’s also probably that other will benefit from you showing up fully and powerfully.
For instance, you can compromise. That’s perfectly fine…if you accept the compromise. However, if you end up feeling like you gave up on a value or belief, you’ve likely settled or tolerated the compromise. Do that often, and you’ll lose many little pieces of yourself.
Also, you can consider other people’s values and aspirations and find a solution that honors both. In that way, you both stand for and receive the things you feel are most important.
5. Love yourself enough to say yes…and no.
In his book, Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It,, Kamal Ravikant suggests asking yourself this question: If I loved myself truly and deeply, would I let myself experience this If your answer is, “No, I wouldn’t,” it’s time to make a change.
Ask this question often. And pay attention to your answers. For instance, if you loved yourself truly and deeply, would you let yourself continue experiencing a lack of connection in your marriage, disrespect from friends or family, being underpaid at work, being overweight or out of shape, or overworking?
Love yourself enough to fight for the things that help you thrive.
I realize that these five tips sound scary. I get it…I do!
You and I, we’ve become less courageous each time we didn’t fight for ourselves. We’ve decreased our confidence level along with our self-worth. But if you loved yourself—really loved yourself—you’d take brave action. You’d fight for yourself.
So, would I.
The time for brave action is now. Can you continue losing pieces of yourself, affirming that you aren’t worthy or deserving of what you want, and putting everyone and everything else before your needs and wants? Of course, you can’t.
I can’t either.
Stand up for yourself. Fight for yourself. You are worth it and deserve it. And the world wants to see your whole and authentic self.
How do you plan to fight for yourself? Tell me in a comment below. And please share this post with someone you know who has not felt they can stand up for themselves.