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How to Stop Being a Pushover

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Guelph chapter.

Most of my life I’ve been known as a “nice girl”. While this seems like a good thing, it can also lead to trouble. When people expect you to be kind all the time, you sometimes end up doing things that you don’t necessarily want to. You always feel the need to say “yes” and put others before yourself even at the expense of your own wellbeing.

You should maintain healthy relationships with friends and family, but don’t forget that you can still be a nice person without sacrificing what is important to you. Here are some general rules that I’ve found to be helpful if you’re a pushover.



One issue I’ve found is that I don’t always speak my mind. I’m usually an outspoken person, but if I think it’s going to hurt someone else’s feelings or fear that they may judge me (especially if I am close to that person), I clam up. I also find that when someone upsets me, I usually let it go instead of just flat out telling them that what they said/did hurt my feelings. Not only is this unhealthy, but it can lead to a major explosion if I continually let things bottle up inside of me. You have to pick and choose your battles and it can be wise to let things go, but sometimes it’s best to just use your voice. You’ll feel better in the end and people will generally respect your honesty.

  • Learn to say “no”

People know I am the person to go to if they need help with something. Whether that be homework, their job, or just for advice, I’m always there to support my friends. However, this sets me up to feel pressured to say yes to everything since I was raised to always put others before myself.  I also hate confrontation, so I avoid it at all costs. But you can be direct without starting a fight. When someone asks me to do something that conflicts with plans I’ve already made or I’m overwhelmed with my workload, I just turn down the request. Just remember that most people will understand if you have to say “no” and it shouldn’t mean an end to your friendship.

  • Take care of yourself

Taking care of your mental and physical wellbeing should come first. The truth is, you can’t help others until you help yourself first. I found myself constantly run down because I was trying to be at 300 places at once. I tend to be an overachiever that gets involved in multiple extracurriculars and jobs without considering that I can’t do everything by myself. Eat healthily, get the right amount of sleep and exercise, and pick a few things that you can achieve without stretching yourself thin. You’ll thank yourself later!

  • No more saying “I’m sorry”

Ah yes, the Canadian politeness. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still bad for saying sorry 24/7, but holy moly is it unnecessary! Most of the time, we aren’t even sorry, we just say it because it’s been drilled into our brains that we were in the wrong even if we weren’t. Not only that, but it’s typically a word that goes along with “no” to compensate for turning someone down. These words can make your sentence sound weaker, so be firm in what you say and avoid apologizing unless it’s really needed.

  • Be powerful, NOT a pushover

Using the tips above, I’ve made progress towards being a leader instead of a follower. I try not to let people run over me anymore and give my opinion when I need to. Be bold, be proud, and most of all, be you!

Guelph Contributor Account for writers at the University of Guelph!
Emilie Kelly is the University of Guelph's Chapter Co-Correspondent! She is a Phase 1 OVC student who loves to spend her time with horses, cats, dogs, cows; you name it! (That does indeed make her an Aggie!) You can contact her in French, English, or even Japanese.