The old saying goes that you should “pick your battles wisely.”
But which battles should be fought? What are the things that a person should stand their ground on no matter what?
Different people will have different priorities in this regard, but the following things are at the top of most lists of things to stand your ground on and defend.
1. Taking time for self-care and replenishment.
With all the responsibilities and obligations that people contend with on a daily basis, self-care often takes a backseat.
We only have so many hours in a day and so much energy to work with, so a lot of folks have to choose between setting time aside to take care of themselves and being available for everyone else’s needs.
This ends up being a massive detriment to them in the long run.
Neglecting your body and mind means that they will break down over time rather than maintaining strength and integrity. Then you won’t be able to help anyone.
Much like putting on your own oxygen mask before helping others with theirs, make sure that you keep self-care as a high priority.
Set aside a certain amount of time to stretch your body, read (or do puzzles like Sudoku), practice a language or musical instrument, exercise, and eat healthy food rather than “filler.”
You don’t need to do all these things daily, but definitely spend a bit of time every day taking care of yourself.
This isn’t just something nice to dream about, but a necessity for your own sanity and well-being.
2. Personal boundaries.
Do you find that you often tolerate discomfort caused by other people for the sake of “keeping the peace,” whether it’s with family, friends, or colleagues?
A lot of people overstep others’ boundaries in an attempt to establish dominance or control. Unless those boundaries are defended, they’ll keep getting pushed until they barely exist anymore.
Often, these are creeping scenarios that break down over time. As such, you’ll need to nip boundary overstepping in the bud so they don’t intensify—rather like pulling small weeds in a vegetable garden before they grow and become significant problems.
It’s a lot easier to do this if you’re in a new environment where people don’t know you yet than to establish boundaries with those who have known you for years.
Regardless of circumstance, defend these boundaries and demand that others respect them, or face the consequences of overstepping them.
3. Not tolerating other people’s transgressions toward you.
People might give you grief about not tolerating someone else’s behavior, even if that behavior is damaging to you.
Furthermore, a lot of people will transgress upon others to suit their own agenda, such as demanding that you change your behavior or language to suit their chosen fragility.
This is usually one-sided, however, wherein you constantly make allowances for someone else’s needs or quirks without anyone making allowances for yours in turn.
In essence, if they feel threatened because you aren’t behaving the way they want, they’ll try to exercise their will upon yours to force you into doing so. Meanwhile, they’re absolved of showing you the same courtesy of acceptance.
This type of behavior is common in narcissists, as well as those with various personality disorders.
It’s one thing to be respectful of others’ preferences and another to accept being micro-managed and dominated to suit others’ whims.
You have sovereignty and autonomy over your own life that isn’t subject to anyone else’s demands. If someone else feels justified in their behaviors because that’s “just the way they are,” then so are you.
This isn’t being “too boundaried,” or “not being the bigger person” because you aren’t giving in to others’ whims and wants.
Instead, it’s standing strong in yourself and refusing to cave to underhanded manipulation and bullying for the sake of someone else’s imbalance or unhappiness.
4. Your beliefs and values.
It’s difficult to stand up for your beliefs in the face of peer pressure, but it’s vital to do so for the sake of personal integrity.
If you feel strongly about something but don’t admit to it, or pretend to follow the herd to be accepted by a peer group, then you’ll lose self-respect by doing so.
You don’t need external validation, and you don’t need others to agree with you or accept you.
Be steadfast in the things you hold as true and important, and you’ll be able to stand strong against whatever current hits you.
Furthermore, by not caving in and letting the mob influence you, you’ll likely come out on top in the end. The people who don’t drink the Kool-Aid are often the ones who survive and thrive.
That said, you don’t need to draw hostility by announcing dissenting opinions or trying to change anyone’s mind. Others are usually already dead-set on how they feel on a subject—all they want is confirmation bias, not logic, reason, or alternative perspectives.
You can remain neutral and keep your thoughts to yourself. Often the best way to stand up for something is to take actions that support what you feel is important rather than broadcasting your dissent.
Turn your energy toward creating a community of like-minded individuals, and tend your own garden, as it were. It’s better to have a thriving community than a tomb full of noble martyrs.
5. Doing what you feel is right for you, rather than pandering to others’ ideals.
How many times have you had other people try to convince you to do something other than what you’ve chosen because they think they know what’s better for you?
It’s both arrogant and disrespectful to try to change another’s life choices based on one’s own preferences or priorities, yet countless people feel that they are in the right to do so.
Furthermore, when people hold their ground about their choices, these people will complain that they’re “just trying to help,” even though their “help” was both unsolicited and unwanted.
If you have direct life experience in something and others are trying to change your behaviors to your detriment, put them in their place.
Only you know what’s best for you, and although you’re welcome to listen to other people’s insights, you get to decide your own life’s course.
They might think that the bread they’ve baked will be just lovely for your health, but if you’re allergic to gluten, it’ll hurt you.
The same goes for countless other life decisions that they may try to force-feed you.
6. Your faith.
Regardless of your beliefs on any given topic, you’ll eventually come under attack by those who disagree with you.
This may be in reference to the religion that you follow, your personal dietary choices, your political leanings, scientific leanings that you hold dear, or anything else for that matter.
The thing is, when and if you have faith in something, it becomes an integral aspect of your being. As such, it’s not just important to stand your ground on it—it’s imperative.
Countless people have been vilified for their faith, and hated even more when the things they believed in turned out to be true.
Look at Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis, who ended up in a mental asylum in the early 1800s for his preposterous belief that doctors should wash their hands between performing autopsies and delivering babies.
His faith saved thousands of lives, even if others mocked him for it at the time. Furthermore, the protocols that he established lay the groundwork for the hygiene practices followed in hospitals worldwide today.
Standing strong in your faith is a huge sign of integrity, and lets others know that you’re both loyal and trustworthy.
After all, if you can stand firm in your beliefs even when others around you are condemning you for them, then you show that you can be trusted to be loyal and steadfast with your family, friends, and community.
7. The causes that are important to you.
We’re constantly inundated with all the atrocious issues we need to “be aware” of, but different subjects will resonate with different people.
Some might be passionate about amnesty or LGBT+ rights, while others will lean more toward animal welfare or forest conservation.
As such, we can be aware of the various issues going on in the world but focus on those that resonate the most with us.
If you feel strongly about a cause, then it’s important to stand strong in that belief—even if other people don’t share your feelings about it.
This doesn’t mean that you should get abusive toward those who don’t feel the same way that you do, but if someone tries to sway your stance because they think or feel differently, then be sure to make it abundantly clear to them that their behavior is unacceptable.
You may need to take a stronger stance if they try to force the issue, of course. For example, if you’re steadfastly vegan and a coworker intentionally slips meat juice into your lunch, bypass HR and go straight to a lawyer to take legal action.
Additionally, it’s just as important to put people in their place if they try to insist that you share their passion for the cause(s) they’re dedicated to.
It’s great to dedicate one’s time and energy to a cause, and another thing entirely to demand that others feel the same way that they do. You can respect another person’s dedication without supporting it, or even support it without adhering to it personally.
8. Personal safety, as well as that of your loved ones.
This isn’t the drab rigamarole about health and safety protocols that you get when you start a new job, but instead deals with situations in which your health and well-being—and those of your family—are being affected by others.
We live in an era where we’re often asked to set aside our own instincts and deductive reasoning for the sake of what other people think is right for us, whether we agree with them or not.
For example, the idea of an individual being responsible for taking care of themselves, their family, and their community has shifted to looking to external forces to protect them and theirs from very immediate threats.
A simple—but uncomfortable—truth is that most folks nowadays feel intensely uncomfortable with the idea of a strong, capable group of people taking defensive action unless they’re wearing uniforms.
When it comes to protecting yourself and those you care about, you may draw the ire of those who prefer to put their well-being in the hands of strangers who may or may not be trustworthy
If we were to jump back in time to the Medieval era, we would be seen as fools for not being armed in some manner because of all the potential risks for harm on a daily basis. Quite simply, we’d be mocked for having no means of defending ourselves.
In contrast, we’re now expected to walk around completely vulnerable and call the police to help us in case of anything, even though it may take them an hour to come to our aid.
Just because you’re told that a group of individuals is safe to interact with, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s true.
Nobody’s suggesting that anyone should head out clad in chainmail and wielding warhammers to go buy bread. It is, however, advisable to learn some measure of self-defense, whether it’s a martial art or a practical technique like Krav Maga, which can be learned quickly and focuses on potential real-life situations rather than dojo-type sparring.
Similarly, just because someone is told that a group of medical professionals has their best interests at heart doesn’t mean they shouldn’t get second opinions and do their own research, and then make the decisions they feel are right for themselves or their children.
All those heroes we celebrate from the past—the rebels, freedom fighters, and world-changers—faced intense and even violent opposition from others, but it’s their names we remember and their examples that often guide and inspire us.
It’s up to you to determine what’s important enough for you to fight for: nobody else can dictate that to you. But when you’ve figured it out, stand your ground and defend your principles no matter what.
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