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Why standing up for myself is not selfish behaviour.

I think it’s been socialized out of me to stand up for myself, I see it as selfish or self centred to put myself above others feelings or needs. I would love to address this feeling and work with it. Standing up for others has always been considered selfless, heroic even. Does that mean I’m supposed to wait for someone else to stand up for me so that I don’t seem selfish? I’m kind of over the whole damsel in distress narrative.


Why exactly do we consider boundaries and standing up for ourselves a selfish act? I think it’s because we have been conditioned to put others first, this brings me to the word “nice” versus the word “kind”, you can be kind to someone without letting them walk all over your boundaries but you can’t be NICE to people while upholding your own values and beliefs all the time.


You can have firm boundaries and kindly let someone know when you won’t be pushed past it, with sentences like “Thank you for asking but I’d rather not talk about it” or “not today thanks”.






I’ve put together the differences between standing up for yourself and standing up for others as I see it. I find this is a good way to create the confidence needed to set your boundaries and stick to them.


1. Motivation:

- Standing up for yourself: When you stand up for yourself, your primary motivation is to protect your own interests, rights, or well-being. You assert your own boundaries, needs, or beliefs to ensure that you are treated fairly and respectfully.

- Standing up for others: When you stand up for others, your motivation is to protect the interests, rights, or well-being of someone else. You advocate for another person's rights, safety, or dignity, even if it doesn't directly benefit you.


2. Focus:

- Standing up for yourself: Your focus is on your own individual rights, needs, and boundaries. You are advocating for what you personally believe is fair and just for yourself.

- Standing up for others: Your focus is on the rights and well-being of other individuals or a group of people. You are advocating for their rights and welfare, often based on a sense of empathy, justice, or a desire to help others.


3. Responsibility:

- Standing up for yourself: You are responsible for asserting your own rights and boundaries. It is your job to communicate your needs and advocate for yourself.

- Standing up for others: You take on the responsibility of speaking out on behalf of someone else. You may act as an ally, advocate, or supporter for those who may be unable or hesitant to stand up for themselves.


4. Empathy and Compassion:

- Standing up for yourself: While self-advocacy may involve asserting your own needs, it can still be done with empathy and respect for others' feelings and boundaries.

- Standing up for others: Advocating for others requires a strong sense of empathy and compassion. It often involves recognizing and addressing injustices that may affect someone else, even if those injustices don't directly impact you.


5. Outcomes:

- Standing up for yourself: The outcome of standing up for yourself typically results in the protection of your own interests and rights, with a focus on self-preservation and self-respect.

- Standing up for others: The outcome of standing up for others is aimed at protecting the interests and rights of the individuals or groups you are advocating for, with a focus on promoting fairness, justice, and collective well-being.


In summary, standing up for yourself and standing up for others differ in terms of motivation, focus, responsibility, and outcomes. Both actions can be important in different situations, and they often reflect an individual's values, empathy, and commitment to justice and fairness. Which is why I think we need to stop defining standing up for ourselves as selfish, even if it's just in our own heads.

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