When people put you down, it is often a result of their own insecurities, rather than because there is something wrong with you. However, if you are the recipient of consistent put-downs, your self-esteem eventually can be worn down -- unless you know how to keep your confidence in these situations. Keeping confidence when you are being verbally assaulted is not always easy, but worth doing to protect your self worth and maintain peace of mind.
Compassion for Yourself
One of the best ways to keep confidence high in the face of put-downs is to make sure that you have a strong sense of self-esteem. Confidence and self-esteem are drawn from three areas, according to Alex Lickerman, general internist and assistant vice president for Student Health and Counseling Services at the University of Chicago -- areas of competence, belief in your ability to learn and solve problems, and compassion for yourself. Lickerman notes that compassion is most important. While money, fame, social standing, friendships and relationships can all be taken away, the belief that all people are equally valuable and precious can never be shaken. Drawing confidence from compassion for yourself is a strong foundation not likely to be swayed by the put-downs of others.
It's About Them, Not You
People who put other people down want to elevate themselves, because on the inside they are insecure. People who are genuinely confident don't behave this way. Instead, they are warm, friendly and always looking for the positive in others, says life coach Marie Dubuque. Knowing that another person's put-downs are about them, and not you, can help you to avoid becoming defensive or verbally abusive in return. Have compassion for the other person, just as you have for yourself, and realize that the behavior and the insults are not a reflection of your worth.
If put-downs are persistent, and coming from a person that you love and care about, eventually your self-esteem will be eroded. While it is important not to take things too personally, and realize that put-downs reflect insecurity on the part of the other person -- if they persist, you need to be assertive to get him to stop, says confidence coach Steve Erry. Being assertive does not mean being confrontational, but rather, letting the other person know what behavior is acceptable and not acceptable to you. If a person starts to put you down, raise your hand to interrupt, and say something like, "I would like to ask for your respect and consideration. I am not willing to put up with this behavior any longer and expect to be treated respectfully."
Some people will not respond to your request for respect, in which case the best option is to leave the situation. If someone continues to put you down, and ignores your attempt to remedy the problem -- you are better without that person in your life. In situations where the other person is a family member, or someone else that you must have contact with, find support from others who can help you to cope with the situation, says psychiatrist Neel Burton. Talk to friends, other family members, join a support group, or seek out a professional to learn how to manage the difficult person in your life.
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