Are You a Pushover? 9 Ways to Stand Up For Yourself

Updated: May 19, 2021

Being a pushover can have a negative effect on your own life. Here’s how to stand up for yourself.


Get out of the “people pleaser” mindset

Putting everyone else’s needs and happiness before your own is unhealthy and tends to intensify as time goes on, leading to an out of control people-pleasing cycle. “People pleasers give and give to the point where they become martyrs. I always tell my clients, ‘You’re not martyrs, you’re just making yourself more unhappy by focusing on what someone else thinks or needs,” says Margo Drucker, a board-certified clinical hypnotist at Premier Integrative Hypnosis in New York City. Remember this mantra: the only person you should be focused on pleasing is yourself. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but the more you stick to your guns the easier it’ll be and the stronger you’ll become. (Consider these science-backed tips to boost self- confidence.)


Figure out what makes you happy

“When you make yourself happy, you realize that speaking your mind, living in your truth, and being true to yourself makes a difference,” says Drucker. Take a step back and make a list of all the things that make you happy, or things you feel particularly strongly about. Next time you’re faced with a decision where the choice you think they want you to make makes you feel unhappy or uncomfortable, flash back to that list. (Learn the truth about these myths about happiness.)


Try acupressure

Often, pushovers are so eager to please someone else and make the “right” decision that they become incredibly stressed and anxious in the moment. If you feel this happening, tapping certain pressure points may help relax you. “This technique is so powerful because it very quickly allows you to shift out of unwanted emotional states, negative patterns, or triggers,” says Drucker. All it takes it tapping various points on your wrists, hands, forehead, and other body parts in just the right place with two fingers. Visit to learn where each point is located and how to tap. (Find out if an acupressure mat is what you need to feel at ease.)


Know your worth

If you think someone won’t love you or like you unless you do what they say, it’s time to walk away. “Pushovers think the way to get love and feel love is to constantly gain approval, and they’ll do whatever they think they need to do to gain that approval,” says Drucker. Take a hold of your own integrity by pausing to ask yourself one question before making a choice or giving an answer: Is this what I want or what they want, and does this make me feel happy or unhappy?


Learn how to “heart breathe”

If struggling to say “no” even though you know you should sends your heart racing, a technique called “heart breathing” may be able to ground you and help you stand up for yourself. Relax your body right where you are and focus on your heart and the feeling of breathing in and out; laying a hand on your heart might help. Picture your heart beating and breathing, and then think of someone or something you love unconditionally. “This allows feelings of security and assuredness to grow,” says Drucker.


Stop apologizing

Pushovers also tend to be apologizers. “Constantly apologizing, often when they don’t know what they’re apologizing for or don’t mean it, stems from a need to appease,” says Drucker. Next time you want to say, “I’m sorry,” pause for a moment and evaluate if it’s coming from a genuine place (you shouldn’t feel uneasy or have second thoughts) before it passes your lips.


Curb your need to overachieve

Pushovers and overachievers can sometimes be one and the same when the achievement is made to gain approval at any cost. But if you don’t reign that in, you could self-destruct. “Ultimately, you are going to hit a wall at some point and crash big time,” says Drucker. Putting all your energy toward gaining approval can not only exhaust you mentally, it can also cause other parts of your life to suffer from lack of attention. Drucker’s advice: Do an internal review of what’s going on in your life. Ask yourself how you feel about everything you’re doing, thinking, and saying.


Adopt positive mantras

Pushovers often have a fear of expressing themselves because they’re worried their opinion is wrong, says Drucker. Spend a little time each day going over positive affirmations or mantras. It could be something as simple as, “Your opinion matters,” or “I am me and I am OK.” “It helps people understand that while they have this fear they’re willing to let it go because they accept themselves,” she says.


Stop worrying about what other people think

A common pushover trait is to be overly concerned about what other people think, which can prevent them from stating their true thoughts for fear of offending someone or saying the wrong thing, says Drucker. Have confidence in your own thoughts and accept that disagreements happen. “Never withhold your truth. To be successful, you have to learn that conflict is a part of it,” said Sherrie Campbell, PhD, on “You have the right to express your opinions.”

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest