When you feel you can’t stand up for yourself, you are in conflict inside. An inner conflict represents your intuitive knowing colliding with someone else’s idea of what is best for you.
Think of the internal conflict between wanting to choose what is right for you, and feeling like you need to make a choice that supports someone else. The two choices feel so tangled that it feels like you “are” the conflict.
The other is your true voice.
Think of a recent time when you experienced this conflict between standing up for yourself and sitting down for someone else.
- Notice where and how you experience the conflict in your body.
- What are the emotions connected to the conflict?
- What is the intensity of the body sensations and the emotion 0-10?
- What is the story that you are telling yourself about toughing it out instead of following your own truth?
- Give the story a title.
- Create a metaphor for not standing up for yourself : What is that like? What have you been doing? Sitting down? Trapped in a pit? Lying down on the job of being you? Stuck in quicksand?
In my monthly complimentary teleclasses I have been experimenting with a new approach to Borrowing Benefits. I announce the theme of the class beforehand, on the sign-up page:
People then write emails to me about their experiences with this theme. Sometimes I edit the comments somewhat to make them a bit more general. I fit these comments into a script that I read in the teleclass. During the teleclass, while I read the script, everyone at home is tapping along for their own issue.
We have had some powerful results with this method!
The following is part of one of the scripts I used recently, filled in with what people sent in to me (their comments are in blue). When I read the personal stories on the call, I ask the tappers to just listen while they tap through the points, or tap on a favorite point.
Try this tapping process for yourself.
*WHAT IS THE STORY you have been telling yourself? What story about standing up for yourself are you feeding? What bad thing will happen if you do stand up for yourself?
Even though I think I can’t stand up for myself …I accept myself anyway, and I honor myself for how difficult this has been.
Even though I can’t stand up for myself… I have spent all of my life pleasing others. I feel I look weak, and maybe they will make fun of me, or disregard me, like they did when I was growing up...I accept and appreciate myself for finding ways to survive.
Even though I often honor other people more than myself, I realize that my body and my heart are telling me that I may be literally sick of ignoring myself. I accept that I have been living this way and I having been doing the best I could.
Tap while listening:
I grew up in a household where the rule was “be seen, not heard” (and preferably don’t be seen either).
I was teased a lot as a child by my ________.
I was crying and dad told me to stop and told me to go back to bed as my sister was asleep. The crying worsened and dad put my head under the kitchen sink tap several times until mum said “That’s enough .”
All my life I have found difficulty in expressing my feelings, or crying.
They told me I was too sensitive.
I wasn’t trusted . This was made known to me at a very early age.
I wasn’t trusted to do this or perform that.
My emotions weren’t trusted. I learned not to trust my emotions too.
I was made to feel not worthy, and not surprisingly I went out of my way to prove them right.
This got me the attention I craved and wanted—not healthy attention, but it beat the alternative of feeling totally abandoned.
Tap through the points and repeat the phrases:
Thinking of others before myself
I don’t stand up for myself
In my house the rule was “be seen, not heard”
It is weak to ask for help. I will be hurt if I ask for help.
What happened is my fault, so I have to be perfect to make up for it.
If I cry they will call me a cry baby and shame me.
I can’t show what I am really feeling — that makes me too vulnerable.
I don’t deserve support.
I cant express what I am feeling
I don’t deserve________
I was teased a lot as a child
I was disregarded as a child
I don’t stand up for myself
This sense of bracing against something
This sense of _____________
This sense of tightening in my abdomen, heaviness in my chest, racing pulse, shallow breathing…
These feelings of
Anxiety, sadness, fear, anger, feeling vulnerable, feeling crazy, alone, helpless, depressed, dismissed, guilty, unworthy, trapped…
I am sick of ignoring myself
Check inside now, and notice what is happening with your experience of your story, and your metaphor.
*DO YOU NEED APPROVAL from anyone in this situation? Are you listening to your inner voice, your own truth for right now? Or, who are you listening to? Whose voice?
Tap on Side of Hand
Even though I need the connection with this person – (think about your story and your metaphor) – I deeply accept myself…. even though I need their approval…… or I need them to like me… (think about your story and your metaphor)…I deeply accept myself… and I honor myself for my need for connection.
But even though I feel this need… I’m willing to accept that I can’t make them approve of me, or accept me… If that person is not available to me, I am detaching now…
I am choosing to connect with myself… to like myself… to seek my own approval of myself… my connection with myself matters the most…
Tap while listening:
Not standing up for what I want is something I do to myself, when I am concerned that the other persons interests could be in some way harmed.
I seem to want to put their needs before mine. Most especially if they are in my family or my friends! Intellectually I know this is hopeless, but I still do it!
I am consciously aware of my need to gain the approval of others; it’s as if I am not OK with who I am unless someone else approves of my actions.
If I do not get the approval, it is difficult not to respond in anger or act out in defiance,
I will ‘contort’ myself to whatever behavior it is they seem to want, in order not to ‘hurt’ them, because it feels like I’ve already hurt them.
Tied closely with approval is my VERY strong need for recognition and praise. I think these are inexplicably tied together.
I think of my father berating me on my graduation day from business school, getting an MBA or “MmmBeeeAAAA” as my father sneered. At my mother’s insistence, the two of them drove our family van thousands of miles to attend my graduation but also help me move. The week before, my father was a complete asshole, creating every foreseeable problem and letting me know that all of this was just too much for him — not only the move, but everything about me, including my intelligence, drive, and creativity. I wish I had the photos from that day. Oddly enough he wanted to take them of me while I was in my graduation garb. In each frame I’m visibly crying. I just remember wanting to have the earth suck me up. I was so embarrassed that while other parents were so proud of their kids, mine was there just to shame me once again. I wish I would have stood up for myself better, but I gave in to feeling sorry for him because of his being an orphan from age 7 and not having much support. Also, I was dealing with the first signs of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue, and I just didn’t have the energy (and I still don’t).
Tap through the points and repeat the phrases:
What I needed from them
What I needed from them, use your words
Maybe needing their approval
Putting them first
Contorting myself to whatever behavior it is they seem to want in order not to ‘hurt’ them,
It hurts that they won’t give me that
I was so embarrassed
I gave in to feeling sorry for him
It’s as if I am not OK with who I am unless someone else approves of my actions.
But I can’t make it happen
I honor my need for connection
And I accept that I can’t make it happen
So I’m detaching from them now…
I am unplugging from them, and plugging into myself instead
I am untying, untangling my ties to them
I am unraveling that unhealthy web i was caught in
I am connecting to myself instead
I’m connecting with myself… liking myself… approving of myself….
Approving of myself is what matters most to me!
Check inside — consider your story, the feelings in your body.
Look at your metaphor. What is it like now?
*Tap for the ENERGY DRAIN OF HOLDING THIS CONFLICT within you:
Tap on back of hand (9 Gamut area, between ring finger and little finger knuckles):
Think about the conflict that your childhood put you in: coming into this life as you did, strong and smart and outspoken, full of energy. You were born into a family that had restrictions and limitations around self expression. Someone had taught your parents, and their parents before them, and their parents before them, to tamp down and swallow and stuff their own exuberance and their feelings. Your parents’ intention was to quiet you and disconnect from you because you reminded them in too painful a way of their own squashed true voice. Or maybe they were trying to protect you from the hardships they had faced by “toughening you up.” But you thought there must be something wrong with you.
Think of the conflict which that would have set up in you. A big, huge, identity shaping conflict…
Put your attention now on acknowledging that all of that did happen—and it is over now. It is no longer happening. You no longer need to resonate or identify with that look, and that disconnection, and feeling beaten and hurt and confused.
Tap while listening:
I went along with them – not believing my own eyes. Feels like I was brainwashed as I was growing up.
I spent many years in an emotionally abusive marriage – unable to stand up for myself and too ashamed to get out of it, believing it was my fault.
After years of increasing harassment and accusations and blow-ups over normal teenage rites of passage, the love that had existed alongside the fear we all had of him, frankly collapsed.
He simply saw red whenever I expressed a will to make my own decisions or be independent. I not a wild or disobedient and tried hard to find a way to keep him happy.
Having this ongoing war at home during those years meant I had no real opportunity to learn from him about how to actually be independent.
I have lost the ability to fully trust anyone or let myself commit fully to anything beyond the love and commitment I have for my daughters. And even in those relationships I must sometimes had to struggle with these fears.
I struggle with health issues, anxiety FM symptoms for decades.
Eventually I felt underappreciated, taken advantage of and unloved, because my definition of love was giving of myself to others and no one was giving to me.
I felt inconspicuous, unwanted.
Lots of planning, lots of attending to her, lots of patience needed… I inevitably crash and burn at the end, often during, making me not the most pleasant person.
I had thought of standing up for yourself only in terms of standing up for yourself against someone else. As in, “I have to fight against you in order to be me”.
It’s really odd how we can hold a belief and it is so much a part of us that we don’t even see it as a belief. We just see it as the way things are.
Maybe things don’t have to be this way!
DO 9 GAMUT PROCESS
*I can STAND UP FOR MYSELF!
Tap on side of hand:
Even though I have been sitting on my strength, I accept that that happened, and now I am raising my standards.
Even though they disconnected from me, and then I had to disconnect from myself to survive, I want to learn to connect with my own truth.
Even though they judged and criticized me, I am learning to step up. My whole life now is about learning to stand up for myself. I am worth this!
Especially because I have been sitting my life out, I accept that that happened, I honor myself for how hard that was, and I want to learn to grow up and out of those old cramped spaces…I can rise to the occasion and expand my horizons!
I was just a little child, a smart, sensitive aware little child—they couldn’t see that. Well, maybe they could see that, and they didn’t like it—it scared and threatened them. They had to shut me down to keep themselves protected from knowing how they were shut down in their own lives. I am opening up now, climbing up out of that pit, standing straight and tall.
Tap while listening:
I would like to process this shame so that I can feel good about getting an MBA, potentially earning more money than my dad (although I quit every job where I’ve had the opportunity to do that), and about me as a person who has compassion and sensitivity. All my other siblings have told him to go to hell many years ago. I would like to have the compassion I had for him for myself and to move on.
It is only very recently that I’ve been able to admit my own truth to myself. I’m trying to get stronger before I reveal it to anyone else.
I would like to feel confident that I can live and love and interact with others and pursue writing goals for the rest of my life, and be creative and enthusiastic, and be free of fears that doing so will inevitably draw deep, disproportionate and irrational opposition.
But now I see that Standing Up For Myself is a stance that comes from inside me and is about me. It’s not about anybody else. That is so freeing!!
I don’t have to be “against” anybody! Just consciously FOR myself. I finally feel like I have someone in my corner—and it’s me. It feels good.
Thinking of my needs first makes me more present.
I want to learn to stand up for myself and speak my truth in love and know that I CAN do whatever I want to do and not be afraid to try.
Check inside. Consider the old conflict, notice how you are thinking and feeling about it now.
What does your metaphor look like now?
(With thanks to Betty Moore-Hafter for script inspiration)
With my love and blessings to you —