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How Not to Be a Pushover: What Makes You One & Ways to Take a Stand

If you let other people push you around, you’ll never get the life you want. Here’s how to stop being a pushover and stand up for yourself.

How Not to Be a Pushover

Being a pushover can have serious consequences on someone’s career, romantic relationship, and social life. There will always be people who will take advantage of others to get what they want. If you don’t want to become their victim, you need to know how to stop being a pushover.

The first step is to understand why you’re a pushover. Are you afraid of conflict? Do you want to please everyone? Once you understand the reasons behind your behavior, you can start to change it. [Read: Being taken for granted? 71 BIG signs, why it happens, and ways to stop them]

So, by knowing the usual habits that make you a pushover and avoiding those habits, you can learn how to deal with people taking advantage of your good nature. This feature will show you how to stop being a pushover and earn some respect.

What is a pushover?

A pushover is someone who’s easy to manipulate. They fear conflict and will do anything to avoid it, even if it means sacrificing their own needs or wants. Because of this, others often see them as easy targets to take advantage of.

There are many reasons why someone might be a pushover. Some people are just more compliant than others.

They may have a hard time saying no, even when they don’t want to do something. Others may be afraid of confrontation or rejection. They may worry that if they stand up for themselves, they’ll come across as difficult or aggressive.

[Read: 23 secrets to stand up for yourself and know your true worth]

Whatever the reason, being a pushover can have negative consequences. Pushovers may find themselves in relationships or jobs that are not good for them. They’ll often get taken advantage of financially or emotionally. They might even feel resentful and unhappy, as they’re not truly in control of their own lives.

If you think you may be a pushover, it’s important to understand what makes you behave in this way. Then, you can work out how to change your behavior and improve your life for the future.

What are the common habits of pushovers?

Before you learn how not to be a pushover, it’s important to self-reflect. You need to recognize the common habits that could be causing you to feel emotionally weak.

Being weak is part of what makes you behave like a pushover. So, here are the most common traits of pushovers – does this sound like you?

1. A pushover has low confidence and self-esteem

People with low confidence and low self-esteem are most likely to become pushovers.

Due to their inability to assert what they want and their self-perceived weakness, they are easily swayed. They’re always bullied by other people who have stronger personalities than theirs.

2. They are pathological people-pleasers

On the other side of the pushover spectrum, we have people-pleasers. These are pushovers who place so much value in pleasing others, that they always put them first. They’ll do what other people want, even if it’s at their own expense.

[Read: People pleaser – 21 signs you’re one and how to stop people pleasing]

These people find it hard to disagree with others, even if they’re visibly uncomfortable with what’s being asked of them. In their mind, the only way to get people’s approval is to do exactly what they want.

3. A pushover places too much value on what people think of them

Some people become pushovers because they are overly concerned about what people think about them.

Like a people-pleaser, they think others will look down on them if they object or disagree. Still, in this frame of mind, they become pushovers just to protect other people’s image of them.

Their entire self-worth is based on other people’s approval. If everybody doesn’t seem to like them, they’ll feel less valuable as an individual.

Little do they know, manipulative people realize this—and they’re happy to mess with a pushover’s mind by pretending to disapprove.

4. They are timid and avoid confrontation

Some people are so afraid of confrontation that they’ll allow stronger characters to push them around. It’s much easier—and much less drama—not to stand up for themselves.

For them, doing what other people want is easier because it doesn’t create conflicts for them to resolve. And it’s much harder to resolve conflict if you can’t bear upsetting people.

[Read: How to say no, – 15 ways to reason politely, stop pleasing, and feel kickass]

5. A pushover has a hard time saying “no” to people

Pushovers often have a hard time saying no to people. They may be afraid of disappointing others or of being seen as selfish.

They may also feel like they need to please everyone in order to be liked. This can lead them to overextend themselves and take on too much, which can be both stressful and overwhelming.

6. They say “sorry” all the time—for no real reason

Pushovers often say “sorry” all the time, even when they don’t need to. This is because they’re afraid of upsetting others or of being seen as rude. They may also feel like they need to apologize for their own existence or for taking up space.

If they have low self-esteem, as pushovers often do, they may feel that they don’t deserve to take up space. So, they’ll happily let others speak over them. They’ll even apologize to you for interrupting them!

7. Pushovers don’t speak up or give their opinion

Learning to speak up for yourself is an important part of being assertive. It can help you to protect your time and energy, and it can help you to build healthy relationships. If you never give your opinion, how can anyone know what you actually want?

[Read: How your self-respect in a relationship affects you and your love life]

Pushovers never give their opinion. As a result, nobody knows what they want, feel, or even think about anything.

If you can’t imagine what somebody would think about something, it could be because they’re a pushover. They never share enough about themselves because they’re afraid to speak up.

8. They only give completely positive feedback

Got a new outfit? They love it. Changed your hairstyle? They’re crazy about it. Made a life-changing decision that’s definitely, totally a terrible idea?

They think it’s nothing but a good thing. Pushovers hate to rock the boat, so they only ever give positive feedback.

They’re constantly seeking approval and don’t want to offend by being honest. However, this often makes them come across as fake, or worse, ass-kissers.

9. Pushovers take their self-deprecating jokes too far

Everybody should be able to laugh at themselves. However, pushovers take it too far. They’re constantly making self-deprecating jokes, and some are so scathing that they make others uncomfortable. For them, humor is just an excuse to beat on themselves.

After a while, those around them are only laughing out of guilt, or worse, laughing at them for being so pathetic.

[Read: 42 signs and ways to see manipulative behavior and stop being used by people]

How not to be a pushover

If you’re a pushover, don’t despair. There are things you can do to change.

By following these tips, you can start to stand up for yourself and be the person you want to be. Here are our key ways to build some self-confidence, resist manipulation, and start living for yourself.

1. Think: life is better when you’re not a pushover

The road to positive self-assertion is not an easy one, especially if you’re a pushover. It takes a combination of willpower, practice, and a bit of trial and error before one can totally stop being a pushover.

One thing is for sure: being a pushover will weigh your life down. Learning how not to be a pushover has a great deal of benefits for your romantic, social, and professional life.

2. Prioritize what’s best for you

Your well-being and happiness must come first. These are more important than what people think of you, and whether your actions will please them or not.

Always keep in mind that in the end, you don’t owe anyone anything and their pleasure must never come at the expense of yours.

[Read: Martyr complex – what it is, 20 signs of martyr syndrome and ways to fix it]

3. Practice saying no

Keep it simple. If you are being asked to do something that you’re not comfortable with and it’s something that you’re not obligated to do in the first place, say no and walk away. You don’t have to explain yourself. Just say no.

It’s also important to remember that you don’t have to explain yourself to anyone. You don’t have to justify your reasons for saying no. If someone doesn’t like it, that’s their problem.

4. Avoid people who push you over

You can’t be a pushover if you’re not being pushed, right? In situations where you regularly have to interact with the people who push you over, you can keep things comfortable by ceasing interaction with them. Don’t confront them, or make a scene. Just cut them out as best you can and move on with your life.

Just stay out of their social space, cease talking to them, and treat them like they don’t exist. Ostracizing those people will not only lessen their negative impact on you, but it might also let them know that they’re being overbearing.

[Read: People who put you down – how to face them and grow from within]

5. Know how to handle the types that make you a pushover

Basically, there are two types of people that push you over. First is the downright bully, whose preferred method is to aggressively overpower you through intimidation.

Deal with this type in kind, in order to demonstrate your clout. You need to show them you’re somebody they can’t mess with.

The next type is the manipulative type that will masquerade as your friend in order to squeeze favors from you. These people are usually dealt with by calling them out and exposing them. Let them know you see they’re a fake friend, and unfriend them.

6. Communicate in a clear and straightforward manner

Some people get pushed over because they are unable to communicate their thoughts clearly. This makes others think that they have no objections to what’s being asked of them. If you don’t say what you want, nobody will know. They’re not mind-readers!

By learning how to communicate effectively, you can get your thoughts through in a clear and diplomatic way. Then, people will understand what you do and don’t want.

[Read: How to tell someone is using you – 22 signs a user just can’t hide]

7. Others will only push you over if you let them

Sadly, we are all surrounded by opportunistic people. Some of them will even go so far as to masquerade as your friends. As conventional wisdom states, people will be pushovers only if they let others push them around.

This is why people need to learn how to draw the line at a certain point and take a stand. If at the onset, you make it a point that you’re someone not to be messed around with, they will step back and treat you in a better way.

8. Stop apologizing when you don’t have to

Apologizing too much is a sign of weakness and complacency. If you’re constantly saying sorry for existing, you’re putting out a glaring signal that you’re weak. Others will easily notice this, making you a target for bullies.

If you always apologize even if you are not at fault—or worse, apologize for demanding things that you deserve—other people keep pushing you over.

9. Aim for a compromise when in disagreement

When you find yourself in a situation where there’s a clash of ideas or desires, make it a point to suggest a compromise that will be somehow agreeable to both parties.

Don’t let yourself be ridden over, but don’t go the other way either. You remember how it feels to be dominated by others’ opinions!

Plus, by taking the moral high ground, you show a strength of will. That will surely gain you respect, even from those who disagree with you. [Read: Nice guy syndrome – 42 “fake” things nice guys do and how to stop being one]

10. Always challenge the idea that others are superior to you

Ever heard of imposter syndrome? This is a dangerous mindset where people belittle their own value and accomplishments in comparison to others, even if their own achievements are commendable in reality.

This type of thinking makes you less likely to assert yourself, making you much easier to push over. Always remember that no other person is completely superior to others. Chances are, you’re downplaying your own value due to a lack of confidence.

Is being a pushover all bad?

So, you know why being a pushover can hurt you. But is being a pushover always a bad thing? Not necessarily. There are some benefits to being a pushover, and it can teach you lessons you’ll carry through the rest of your life.

1. Pushovers aren’t weak

This might sound like a contradiction after all the things we’ve said in this feature. However, pushovers are actually strong people in disguise.

Not many people are strong enough to control their emotions and keep their cool in difficult situations. Most pushovers will have been massively disrespected to their face, but won’t have batted an eye. That takes a huge amount of self-control.

[Read: 19 signs of a taker in a relationship – are you a taker or a giver?]

They are also strong in their ability to forgive. Pushovers are often the ones who are left holding the bag when things go wrong, as it’s easy to shove the blame onto them. Most people would buckle under all that disrespect, but pushovers stay standing and just keep on helping others.

2. They believe that people are inherently good

Pushovers instinctively put others first. They are the ones who are always there to help, even when they are not being appreciated.

It’s a level of complete selflessness others can’t achieve. No matter how horrible somebody is to them, they always believe that person is good and worthy of help, even ahead of themselves.

It might seem like a symptom of a pushover’s bad self-esteem, but it’s actually a strength. Most of us are so jaded that we forget to see the good in people. If you’re a pushover, you automatically assume that everybody is good—better than you, even.

3. They pick their battles

You can’t kick and scream and fight every time you’re disrespected. Disrespect is part of life, and pushovers handle it like water off a duck’s back.

Most confident people could learn a lot from a pushover’s ability to let things slide and get along with the task at hand.

As you become more confident, don’t lose your ability to brush things off and move on. In fact, let your newfound confidence make you extra resilient.

Your inner strength should make you even more sure of your own brilliance, and stop anybody from tearing you down. Just remember how you used to let things go.

[Read: 55 secrets and self-love habits to build confidence and realize your worth]

Stop being a pushover and change your life

Putting others first can be a very admirable quality, and it can make you a very popular person. However, remember that there are also some drawbacks, such as being taken advantage of and feeling resentful.

So, while being a pushover can be a good thing, it is important to find a balance. You should be kind and helpful, but you should also be assertive and stand up for yourself.

By building your confidence, recognizing your self-worth, and learning how to communicate your thoughts even during conflict with others, will allow you to assert yourself better in any situation.

[Read: 48 real secrets to change your life and find the right path when you’re lost]

Once you learn the little details that play a part in undermining your confidence, use these steps to understand how not to be a pushover. If you do it right, you can earn the respect of people around you.

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Vinod Srinivas Serai
Vin Serai
Vin Serai is the founder of LovePanky.com, and has delved deep into the working of love and relationships for almost two decades. Having dipped his feet in almo...