People usually go up-in-arms when you get your feathers ruffled and try to stand up for yourself. We hear it all the time – the question of why we go on the defensive or try to assert ourselves in certain situations. Sometimes it goes without question to simply opt for pacifism, but there are a couple of circumstances where you have every right to defend yourself.

Scenario 1: When credit is stolen

I am not talking about your credit cards, though that is certainly a situation to nip in the bud. No, what I mean is those moments at work or in class when you find yourself carrying the team or handling a stressful job then one of the team members who does nothing steals the credit.

A group project is a big deal, no matter what stage of life you are in. Everyone has to play their part; and when you are made to look like a schmuck, you can’t just roll over and accept it. Reputation and respect from your colleagues are on the line.

So what do you do? Initially, snarling like a pit bull and calling the person a thief will not get you anywhere. Hostility rarely does anything. Rather, if you can turn the moment where the accomplishment was stolen, do it.

Say something along the lines of, “Yes, and I will explain how I complimented their part with my own data and analysis of the project.” But if the moment has come and gone, remind the person in private that their theft of your work goes unappreciated. Should it happen again, you will get the manager involved.

Or, do what I do, and ask them questions in front of everyone to prove they have no idea what they are talking about. “Oh, by the way, didn’t you have something to say about X, Y, and Z? No, okay, then allow me.”

Scenario 2: When your money is involved

Ever give someone some cash to get them out of a fix only to find they used it for vacation or bought an entire new wardrobe? You find yourself thinking, ‘Seriously, I am trying to help you out from between a rock and a hard place and you misuse the loan?’

Having your good spirits taken advantage of by a friend is not something to tolerate. Here is how you handle it: you remind them what they owe you. There is no need to get nasty. For example, next time you head out on vacation say, “Hey, you know that money you borrowed to go on vacation. Well, now I need it back for mine.”

A true friend will do whatever they can to return the favor. Someone who does not respond in kind to your generosity deserves immediate disassociation.

Scenario 3: When someone criticizes your life

Never should you be made feel guilty for attempting to accomplish your goals. Never should you be the butt of everyone’s joke when something does not go right. See, when this happens for a long duration, it has a toxic effect on your psychology.

People will, indeed, say mean things from time-to-time, but a constant barrage of scurrilous insults or “jests” goes too far. Calmly ask the person what is they feel towards you. Proceed from there. Perhaps it is just the way you are perceiving their words. But maybe there is some jealousy or disgust.

And never, ever let someone – be it your boss, significant other, or parent – try to control you through shame. Remember, in the end, life is all about how we choose to react to certain stimuli. Life goes in the direction you choose, so don’t choose to be a doormat. Stand up for yourself.

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