The title could seams agressive. You could imagine yourself, guns in hands ready to blase at everybody who opposes you, with a Rambo smirk and grit in your eyes. That might be over the top, but we know that we go through life being challenged at on point or another, and sometimes, it is really worth sticking to your guns.
Changes in life are not always easy, decisions are sometimes hard. In those time when nobody backs you up, you’ve got to be your own cheerleader, without the pompom part.
Sticking to your guns means to believe in yourself, and upholding your beliefs and standards in the face of adversity. It doesn’t mean that you necessarily have to be aggressive, domineering or even defensive. What it means is that when it comes to some choices, you have to do you, and what affects you is defined by your standards, no negotiations, no compromises.
Compromises and negotiations are great in relationships and some area of your life, but in some peronnal matters, you should absolutly always have the last words.
Often others can try to influence your core personality, values, and behavior, consciously or unconsciously, we all to it to others on some level. It is not malignant but if you let yourself be invaded by others ideals, values and priorities, your soul slowly get chipped out, a bit at a time, until you realize you are serving someone else’s agenda and you wake up saying; how did I get here?
You got here because of unintentional living, you got here because of autopilot mode, you got here because you left your personal power in others hand, not sticking to your guns.
When in your life would be the time to be uncompromising and definitive?
Well, we often try to better ourselves to some degree, sometime successfully sometimes not.
Nevertheless, changing is difficult and is not always accepted or supported by others. Having a different behavior, doing different things, being a different person is not always well received.
When you make a decision to do or not to do something, creating a difference in your old patterns of behavior, it might lead to tension in your social environment.
Indeed, people in society rely on the illusion of the unchanging. It easier to categorize, and make up your mind, judge and know something for sure. When changes occur, it can unsettle some views and it might be met with reluctance.
People around you, subconsciously, in some ways like you as you are now. Because they have come to know you, you are predictable, and you fulfill a certain role, or purpose.
Where you to change, that might upset that dynamic, and re-evaluation might be needed, which is unpleasant.
In this sense, people try to fit you in the categories that they or yourself have put you in, and is not always easy to get out of them. When you are acting differently they can say: why are you being weird, your not yourself”.
-The social environment has a pulling power, where people interacting with you try to fit you in there world view.
Because of social balance, we often revert back and end up fitting those views, failing to change the way we wanted to. In this sad fashion, goofy Tony stays goofy Tony, Sad Karl, sad Karl and annoying Mary, annoying Mary.
We are also approval seeking creatures. When we get recognized by our colleges, family or peers we take that as a reward. We are wired to belong and to seek approval.
In this sense, a lot of behaviors that we have are due to social conformity, we do things because other people do them to.
You have probably heard of the 5 closest person theory that states that you are the results of the 5 persons you hang out the most with.
These behaviors extend, to speech, interests, diets, addictions, fitness, rituals or methodology, etc.
If you change, you come out sometimes of the social circle, and unconsciously people can receive that your are telling them to change to, that their behavior is not that good. Your change indirectly criticizes them.
There can be a lot of social pressure on you to revert back to your old self, because your change that you judge positive for yourself, is not viewed the same way by your social environment.
If you grow confidence and found that you want to be paid more, you boss might not be so happy about your newfound confidence.
That is when it is important to stick to your guns, to have an iron will. You must be purposeful, definite and patient about your life changes. Changing should’t be a struggle and their are ways to make it easier but will definitely require willpower, and you will be challenged, either by happenstance or by social pressure.
This is why you must be absolutely clear, on why and how you are going to change.
It is the strength of your conviction and desire that will back you up when challenged, criticized or ridicule. People will try to bring you down, sometimes even without meaning to.
If you firmly believe that something that you want to change or acquire is good for you and/or the world, you must be unshakable in you pursuit, persistence and resolved.
Identify the reasons, the strategy and the difficulties, and be hard on yourself, do not give yourself any other course of action. Make a true decision. If you’re not hard on yourself, no one else will be. Once you have tempered yourself an iron will, a little jab from life will seem insignificant and laughable.
Another benefit of sticking to your guns is that by being clear about what you goals are and sticking to it, you will gain the respects of others and of yourself. Sometimes the only hindrance to your success is lack of communication.
Other may not facilitate you simply because they are unaware of what you want. Don’t expect people to read your mind and guess what you want, that is delusional.
Also, by doing the difficult task of standing up for yourself, you will feel even better once you reap the reward. Because it wasn’t handed to you, you know that you made the right decision for yourself and it will build up your confidence one little success at a time.
Often, we can have regrets for not taking action or giving in to easily, all those little missteps can pay a tole on your self-respect. Soon you may feel that your are not so great and be down on yourself, acting accordingly in a downward spiral. A common regret old people have is, “I wish i wasn’t afraid to try more things”, don’t be afraid, just try, who cares what people think? You will always disappoint someone.
Others may not be necessarily happy at first about you putting yourself first. But once they notice your determination and success, that annoyance will turn to respect.
Note that you don’t have to be conflictuel about standing up for yourself. You can learn to be firm without aggressiveness. If a situation escalates and other cannot control themselves from your firmness, find a way to leave or create space in the situation. Through effective communication, establish that you do not want conflict, but you will not give in on what matters to you.
This can be harder for women, deepening on circumstances. If you find it difficult to stick up for yourself alone, ask help from you community or wherever you can, to get others to stick their guns with yours.
A lot of tension can happen if people have come to rely an specific behavior from you, or if they held some kind of authority over you that you no longer endorse. This does not mean to be not compliant for the sake of it, but learning not to be abused, and to put yourself first, because everybody else does, consciously or unconsciously.
If you achieve your priorities, you will also be in a good place to give and be truly generous, having the space and personal fulfillment to do it. You’ll give what you have and have nurtured, not what is taken from you.
To conclude, don’t be afraid to pursue your goal and put your foot down in front of social pressure. You will thank yourself later. Also remind yourself of what you want often, because life happens and we tend to forget, plenty of opportunity will steer you away from your path if you are not committed to a specific one. There is a time and place for “going with the flow”, but there is also a time to be uncompromising. Knowing to be one and the other at appropriate times is the way to achieve a more balanced, enjoyable life, while pursuing what matters to you.
What does it look like in real life?
Maybe you want to stop drinking alcohol completely, but when you find yourself in social situation you always give in. Maybe you want one hour to yourself when you get home to do something productive but end up being distracted by the family. Maybe you take on the work of other colleges for the sake of being nice, not getting any credit, and setting you behind in your own work. It’s not hard to find examples where we lack backbone in our lives if we honestly look for it.
I challenge you to try.
In a nutshell, sticking to your guns means:
-To be clear on your personal decisions
-To make a definite commitment and prioritize
-To learn to say no, and “it will happen no matter what”
-To shake off resistance, back yourself up
-To be persistent and try until you achieve what you want