The Art of Sticking Up For Yourself

Jamie Silverstein
The Art of Sticking Up For Yourself

Having recovered from an eating disorder means a lot of things to me. It means I know way, way more about nutrition than I ever intended. It means that I share my feelings with pretty much everyone. (I’m talking to you, Cloudability lady!) It means that I’ve stopped reading women’s magazines.

It also means I still have to work out truly believing that “I am worth this muscle.”

Develop self-worth through accountability.

Case in point: I own a business. Owning a business means that some people will love you and some people...not so much. It also means you have to own your shit—mistakes you’ve made, areas where you need to grow. Most importantly, you have to own your dreams. For serious.

Now, most of the time, all of this owning is subconscious. I don’t walk around every day telling people how I made a mistake last year in August. Nor do I walk around attempting to ‘own’ my dreams with pomp and circumstance.

It’s much simpler than that. I live like things matter. This means that I am accountable to people. This means that I am accountable to myself.

Working out your worth isn’t always easy.

Usually, this way of thinking works great for me. I get to love what I do and not get a big head about it. Recently, though, it’s been more challenging. I’ve felt threatened. I’ve felt territorial. I’ve felt scared. These feelings have been coming up a lot for me lately. It’s kinda sucked.

To quell these negative thoughts, I’ve had to reassess what owning my stuff really means. Here are ways that have helped me own me – without compromising what I believe in.

Be willing to state why you something matters to you. Out loud.

When I think about owning my experiences, this is the most important thing I can do. I can give myself the gift of my own voice and attention.

When we remember that we have worth, we also remember that people will want (and deserve to) hear what we have on our mind or what has been coming up for us.

Be willing to say no aka “The Art of Boundaries.”

I’ve recently had to deal with a business dealing that went bad. Being in the yoga business, this sucked particularly hard, since most of the people I work with are ethically aligned with me and are usually friends. So when violations happen, it hurts.

The truth is, we can’t always expect people to behave in accordance with our personal ethos, and (this was the tough bit for me) it’s not someone else’s job to maintain your boundaries or beliefs!

What became really real for me recently was that owning it often means owning (and sticking) to your boundaries. If we are not clear on our lines, it’s easy for people to cross them.

Be willing to say yes.

One of the most important lessons that ED recovery has taught me is that asking for help is not a sign of weakness. On the contrary, I believe that sticking up for ourselves and our needs is one of the strongest practices we can adopt.

When we are able to say: “I need help with this.” Or, “How did you do that?” we give ourselves the gift of humanity. Say yes to your growth.

Be willing to stay in the messy.

Perhaps the most important lesson of all is to understand that sticking up for yourself doesn’t always feel good. In fact, sometimes it downright stinks!

If you are like me, you don’t like to disappoint anyone, and you especially don’t like to have someone at odds with you. In my experience, though, simply avoiding mess or hurts is not an effective long-term solution!

In the past, I’ve spent months trying to dance around or deny my needs because I didn’t want to escalate feelings (it didn’t work). Then, I realized that in order to effect real change there are going to be feelings! And, that’s okay.

Put simply, you can’t make everyone happy – but you’d better damn well put yourself on top of the list. And, if you feel messy along the way, that’s okay too. When we talk about self-worth we must remember: we are worth the speed bumps and hop-alongs on the way to awareness.