Standing up for yourself is one of the noblest things you can do.
But, unfortunately, that is not how it is widely viewed.
It is often considered an act of rudeness to stand up for yourself, articulate your thoughts, and demand better treatment.
We are told to be nice and not shake the boat. We are told that we should bottle up our anger. That we should not make other people feel sad or bad. And that resentment is a natural feeling that means we are just sensitive!
And how the tables have turned and now it is a moral thing to not stand up for yourself and be that nice person who does not upset people. In fact, upsetting people by standing up for yourself is an immoral thing to do.
That is bullshit.
I am here to tell you that standing up for yourself is not only good for you, but it is good for everybody. It is the greater good. And if you don’t care about the greater good, it is still what is morally, mentally, emotionally, and psychologically better for you.
I explain how and why in the following excerpt of my book How to Handle an Asshole as if You were One. It is edited to fit into a blog post style. After that, I will add a few thoughts in the conclusion as to why you should stand up for yourself and protect your boundaries viciously.
An Excerpt from How to Handle an Asshole as if You were One on The Importance of Standing Up For Yourself
When I told one of my friends that she can be mean sometimes, she looked surprised. She couldn’t accept the identity of being ‘mean’ because she believed that her identity was ‘nice and polite’.
And somehow, ‘mean’ seemed, to her, the opposite of ‘nice and polite’. As if mean was bad and nice and polite was good. But unfortunately, this binary way of looking at the world isn’t helpful by any means because it perpetuates the struggle with bullying and exploitation.
A lot of people who are too nice get walked over because of their inability to be anything but nice –their inability to turn into dicks and assholes when it takes.
And this inability –usually– comes from what we can refer to as the ‘moral block’.
This ‘moral block’ tells them that it is bad (or that it is morally wrong) to be anything but nice and polite.
And that’s the first obstacle which we need to overcome.
Is It Actually Bad To Be Mean?
There are good mean people. And there are bad mean people.
And then we have nice people.
Those nice people usually are bullied and mistreated by the bad mean people.
(Note that you have to differentiate between good and nice. Being nice doesn’t necessarily mean being good. Sometimes the greater good demands being a dick and upsetting some people out there and being perceived as an asshole by some people).
And just as iron cuts iron, the only people who are capable of stopping those bad mean people are the good mean people, mainly because they are mean, too.
We are not living in a world where nice people can expect to be safe because they harm no one. That is naivety. You don’t get into the woods without weapons and assume that lions won’t attack you because you are not going to attack them.
You go out there with your weapons. You have your guns and your swords and your knives. You have them with you not to kill whatever that comes your way; you have them to protect yourself from whatever that might try to kill you.
And here is something more interesting: when people know that you are strong and capable of defending yourself well, they are less likely to attack or bully you.
Jordan Peterson explains this using a nice metaphor. “The reason that Harry Potter can withstand Voldemort is that he has got a piece of him,” he explains. “The way you keep the psychopath at bay is to develop the inner psychopath so that you know one when you see one,” he adds.
And he stresses that this should be merely one of your tools. He describes it as “full knowledge of evil.” And you use this knowledge to protect yourself from this evil.
But what happens if you don’t protect yourself from this evil?
What Happens When You Don’t Stand Up For Yourself?
A lot of shit!
Your self-respect is going to be affected badly. Your mind is observing whatever that is happening to you. And, more importantly, it’s observing how you respond to whatever that happens to you.
If it believes that there is timidity or weakness or meekness in the way you respond to those who hurt you, it’s going to give you a hard time.
Like it or hate it, you have to earn the respect of your own mind. And hardly will your mind give you enough respect if you don’t stand up for yourself.
One of the harmful consequences of not standing up for yourself is anger which turns into resentment and bitterness.
Nobody is happy being bullied and mistreated. Anger is a typical response. But this anger is suppressed and thus it turns into resentment and bitterness that beat the hell out of you.
And your mind will look down at you because having all this anger and vengeance inside of you means that you have something which you are unable to confront.
And being this bitter and resentful is dangerous.
This anger can build up and reach a point where you explode and hastily do stupid things. And depending on the personality, the angry and resentful people may choose to express their anger in subtle ways that hurt innocent people.
For one, they may choose people who are weaker than them and hurt them as a way of expressing their anger. Or they may hurt the people who are close to them by subtly expressing their suppressed anger and resentment. That’s one of the reasons why nice people can become dangerous. And I mean dangerous in a bad way.
So, standing up for one’s self is important. However, it requires giving yourself permission to be mean. It requires being a dick when it takes. It requires studying evil and developing your evil side so you can recognize evil and handle it.
And that’s not comfortable for many people who have been nice for their entire lives. That’s uncomfortable for non-confronters and conflict haters.
But it’s necessary.
And it doesn’t have to be comfortable. In fact, trying to be comfortable all the time is a sign of immaturity. A large part of maturity is about accepting responsibility for your actions and handling the consequences. And more often than not, accepting responsibility is uncomfortable and even painful at times.
But it’s more fruitful to stand up for yourself despite the discomfort. It’s not morally bad to do that as long as you have the good in mind.
In fact, it’s morally bad to let other people walk over you and sacrifice your own self-respect in the process while being bitter and resentful and on the verge of exploding and hurting not only yourself but whoever that is around you at the moment.
However, you need to make sure you give yourself permission to be assertive when it takes. Stop being nice all the time. Nice is not always good. You won’t beg someone who beats you to stop; you beat their asses.
In the rest of this chapter, we are going to introduce how to practically be that charismatic person who is irresistible and who can stand up for him/herself and be a dick when it takes. But many of these techniques and principles are not going to work if you cannot show that you are willing to stand up for yourself.
Don’t swing immediately to the other extreme.
Many people would hear this piece of advice and would want to become cold, insensitive people who hurt others indiscriminately.
It is just a way to compensate for their lack of assertiveness.
It doesn’t come from the fact that they want to protect their boundaries and make sure they don’t turn resentful. They are resentful and they are acting on their resentfulness and trying to make it go away the wrong way.
You shouldn’t do that.
Stand up for yourself because you respect your boundaries. Stand up because if you don’t, you will become a shitty person; a weak person who compensates and hurts innocent people the same way he/she had been hurt; a hero who turns into a villain.
Stand up for yourself because it feels so good to set your boundaries and protect them assertively. It feels so good to live with dignity and strength. You will have less resentment, more power, and you will become a calmer person who is not aggressive.
Your daughter doesn’t deserve to be shouted at because your boss shouted at you. And your wife doesn’t deserve to be mocked because you are angry at the world but powerless to fight. It is your moral obligation. You are making the world a better place by standing up for yourself. And if you don’t care about the world, you are making your world a better place by standing up for yourself.