All too commonly to ‘Toughen Up’ is to pretend all is well when it is not. ‘Toughening Up’ is to ignore yourself, to deny yourself, to not respond to how you feel or accept that what you think doesn’t matter. This is to disconnect yourself from yourself. To ‘Toughen Up’ in this way is an act of violence. It is to tear your mind, heart and soul apart.
Often others tell you to ‘Toughen Up’ so acts of violence can continue, especially low-level violence. You know when others are rude, mean, and hurtful or disrespectful. Often you are told to ‘Toughen Up’ so you accept these acts of violence as normal and ok. People that behave in ways designed to hurt or disrespect you are carrying out acts of violence. ‘Toughening Up’ in response to such actions perpetrates such violence.
When someone tells you to ‘Toughen Up’ they might be well intentioned thinking that ‘Toughening Up’ is a form of self-protection and a means to strengthen you. It is not. It is weakening you as it tears you apart and creates disconnection at your core. This results in reduced ability to think clearly and respond, that is chose to act in your own best interests in a healthy and respectful way. Instead you are more likely to react, come from your biological flight fight fawn or freeze nature.
There is a way to become stronger, to protect yourself from the harms of such violence. You could choose acts of self-respect instead. This requires you to ‘Skill Up’. To ‘Skill Up’ with self-respect is to protect your self while maintaining self-connection. This means you need to pay attention to your needs and act on them in a nourishing and protective manner.
To respectfully protect oneself is to stay in touch with what is happening with caring and act on that caring with skill. True sometimes that means to postpone an act of nourishment. Acts of self-protection may require us to postpone nourishment temporarily; they are not about denying our self that nourishment.
The big difference between ‘Toughening Up’ and ‘Skilling Up’ with respect is the act of paying attention to yourself, to acknowledge your need and to act on it effectively. This requires Respectful Communication, the acknowledgement of your need and do your very best to act on your need. This includes and requires developing ones skills to do so, rather than pretend there is no need. If you’re best in any one moment is not overly successful. That is ok. It just means it is time to repair any harm and develop new skills. That is life.
Acts of Respect requires one to feel capable and considerate, exercise self control, and respond in an empowering way. Acts of disrespect can be either reactive acts or planned acts that disempower for the purpose of gaining control. They are opposite in the power flow and outcome.
Disrespect is to Respect is to
Disregard Relinquishes control
Act to disempower Pays attention and validates
Attempts to Control Act to empowering
Outcome (and often source)
Feel threatened and insecure Feel Safe Capable and Considered
To ‘Skill Up’ with self-respect is to develop your ability to care for yourself, to pay attention to what is causing pain and act on it in a protective yet not disconnected manner. Some ways to ‘Skill Up’ so you become stronger with self-respect are:
- Develop and maintain your self connection
- Build self awareness and other empathic skills
- Implement self care
- Be true to your self
- Act on your own needs and desires respectfully
- Develop skills in remaining calm
- Deep breathing
- Releasing stored emotions / triggers
- Stay curious and exploratory in nature
- Continue to learn
- Recognise ‘failures’ and ‘mistakes’ as opportunities to grow/ learn
- Build your self belief and confidence
- Implement self accountability
- Start small with goals and complete them
- Acknowledge and appreciate each of your achievements
- Gradually stretch, make your goals more challenging
- Build your reliability
- Speak your truth with kindness
- Keep your word
- Learn to recognise and let go of what you cannot do anything about
- Develop your ability to take personal responsibility for your life
- Grasp the reality that you can not control anything but yourself
- Clearly define your roles and responsibilities and use them to guide your actions
- Remain hopeful, have a dream that you can realistically move toward
- Back to Building Your Self Belief
- Remember to do Develop and Maintain your Self Connection
Remember its ok to make mistakes, developing skills is a journey, mistakes are made and they’re for us to learn from.
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