22 Days Of Doing Better: Day 5

January 8, 2018  |  

Trying to live your best life in 2018 — or at least a better one? We’re here to help with #DoBetter2018, a 22-day series of how-to articles to help you achieve some of the most common New Year’s resolutions and personal growth goals.

One of the questions in You’ll Be All Write journal, a five-year journal specifically for Black women, I ask, “What has your silence cost you?” It was a question I created myself; still when I was confronted with it, thinking about my own response, I was taken aback by the answer. Peace. Remaining silent when I should have spoken up has cost my hours of racking my mind wondering ‘What if?’ or “I wish I’d said.” I wonder if it’s too late to say something. I ask myself, “Am I really over it, like I try to convince myself that I am?”

So for 2018, when it comes to doing and being better, we had to include speaking up for ourselves on the list.

But it’s easier said than done. So many Black children are raised to be seen and not heard, we’re taught that speaking up, for any reason, even if to defend ourselves is disrespectful. We learn to stay in a child’s place. And while we all love mannerable, well-behaved children, it’s hard to embrace those lessons for eighteen years and then one day wake up as an outspoken advocate for yourself.

For women, the task of learning to speak up for yourself can be even more challenging. And for Black women, who have to combat the stereotypes of being aggressive, angry and confrontational, the decision to speak up for yourself becomes a strategic one, particularly in Corporate America.

We spoke to life coach and former Human Resources professional Angela Clemons, of Reaching4SuccessCoaching about strategies women can employ to be more assertive and outspoken in their lives.

I think the first thing I always tell people. You need to define what standing up for yourself means. There are so many definitions. Your definition may not be the same as mine. Because when you do that, you’re creating an important boundary. And then it’s important for you to be open and honest, to yourself and to others, what are the behaviors that you’re going to accept. It’s more value based.

If you start from that, it makes it a little bit more easier that when you are presented with a situation where you feel attacked, you feel more empowered to say:

  • That’s a line that you’ve crossed.
  • I don’t feel comfortable with that.
  • You’re going to have to stop.

Naturally, it will still take much practice; but implementing those phrases should help you along the way in making sure you don’t become complacent in your mistreatment.

Veronica Wells is the culture editor at MadameNoire.com. She is also the author of “Bettah Days” and the creator of the website NoSugarNoCreamMag. You can follow her on Facebook and on Instagram and Twitter @VDubShrug.

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