Life is hard, we all know this. However, it’s inordinately harder when you don’t know how to stop being a pushover.

If you’re letting people walk all over you and treat you like a doormat, the effects can be disastrous. Not just for your confidence, but for your emotional well-being and overall quality of life.

Now, I’m not calling the kettle black because I’ve definitely had my moments of being a pushover as well. So I know how it feels. It’s demoralizing, disheartening and quite frankly – painful to let others treat you in a demeaning manner.

But just because you’ve lived a certain way up until this point, doesn’t mean you have to continue on with it. The past does not equal the future. Anybody can change, if they really want to.

And if you’re up for the challenge to build your confidence, bolster your self-esteem, and grow a backbone – then you’re in the right place! Because in today’s post, I am going to share 3 effective ways to stop being a pushover. Let’s get started.

1. Create Personal Boundaries

Establish a firm set of personal boundaries for yourself. What is and isn’t acceptable to you in regards to people’s actions and behavior? Only when you become clear on this can you begin to reinforce it in your day-to-day experience with others.

If you don’t have a clear code of conduct of what you expect from people, then the lines between right and wrong, good and bad can easily become blurred.

You want to establish for yourself the kinds of actions and standards that are necessary in order for people to be a part of your world. After all, being in your inner circle is a privilege, not a right.

These boundaries are then used to properly screen and vet people to ensure you have high-quality individuals in your life. They’re also used to weed out those low-quality and undesirable people who will only bring drama and headaches.

This is the importance of having personal boundaries.


How To Cultivate Boundaries To Stop Being A Pushover

This is easy, just decide upfront, what it is you expect from the people in your life.

How do you want to be treated? What kind of vibe and energy do you expect? What are the codes of conduct you want from friends, family, coworkers, acquaintances, etc?

Now, word to the wise, it’s important to be reasonable here. You don’t want to set unrealistic expectations of people and hold them to a standard that is near impossible to live up to. You’ll never keep any friends that way.

For example, setting a personal boundary that any time someone is late, it automatically means that they are disrespecting your time and should be confronted about it, is not a helpful stance.

Life happens, people make mistakes, and there are many other moving parts that can contribute to certain behaviors. So it’s important to give some people some leeway – as well as the benefit of the doubt (at least initially).

Now, if it’s a perpetual thing where the person in question is consistently late. Then yeah, that would be a breach of barrier, and you should say something because that is disrespectful of your time.

2. Call Out Bad Behavior

Once you’ve established your personal boundaries, you now have a guideline or framework, if you will, of how you want to be treated by others. Now, whenever someone repeatedly crosses that boundary, you must call them out on their bad behavior. You have to bring it to their attention.

The worst thing you can do when someone crosses your personal boundary is sweep it under the rug. If you let it slide, you’re communicating to that person (without actually saying anything) that their behavior is okay and acceptable to you.

It may feel a little uncomfortable – and even a bit confrontational – but you have to bite the bullet and let the other person know when they have crossed a boundary.

Otherwise, they will continue to do it. By letting the person know what your boundaries are, you are drawing a clear line in the sand of what is and isn’t acceptable.

This will then give them a guideline of the appropriate behavior you expect when they are around you, as well as the opportunity to apologize and rectify their mistake.

In order to stop being a pushover, you have to be able to stand up for yourself in this manner.

Call Them Out With Tact

Keep in mind though, you don’t need to be impolite or rude when doing this. Returning the same crudeness that others give to you may feel gratifying, but it rarely ends well.

An eye for an eye or tit for tat doesn’t exactly fall under best practices for respectful codes of conduct. You can’t put out a fire by attempting to douse it with gasoline.

I know the tempting thing to do is to become aggressive in return. But the only thing that will accomplish is to have it turn into an unnecessary clash. And it’s just not worth it to reach that point, trust me.

You’re much better off being calm and not losing your cool when calling people out on their bad behavior. This is your best bet for diffusing the situation.

Always do your best to be the bigger person – and as difficult as it may be – be kind and respectful, BUT, also firm and assertive. And if the person in question refuses to apologize and correct their behavior, then you implement the next step:

3. Walking away is a Simple Way to Stop Being a Pushover

I remember in high school, I was visiting a friend at his place. He liked to get rowdy and roughhouse, he was a bit of a wildcard at times. I, on the other hand, was more of the calm and chill type of kid. One day, while we were watching TV on his living room couch. He pounced on me out of nowhere and began hitting and punching me for no reason.

Now, to be clear. He wasn’t doing it maliciously. He was just roughhousing and having fun, it’s what boys do. However, I didn’t see it as very “funny.”

And so I told him multiple times to stop, but he refused as he continued to aggressively batter me. That is until I got up, walked to his front door, put on my shoes, and told him he can talk to me again when he wants to apologize. I then left and went home.


The next day at school, he approached me by my locker with a sullen look on his face. He immediately apologized for the way he had treated me and promised it wouldn’t happen again. And you know what? It never did happen again.

The Power Of Walking Away

One of the most powerful and effective tools to stop being a pushover is to simply walk away. Cut off all ties with those who are rude, disrespectful, or don’t treat you the way you’d like to be treated.

It’s one of the best ways to stand up for yourself and stop being a pushover.

If people don’t honor your boundaries and have not shown any remorse for their poor behavior in relation to them, then these are people who don’t care about or respect you. And if that’s the case, then it’s time to walk away – forever.

If you want to stop being a pushover, then you have to stop putting up with rude people and their bad behavior. You have to grow a backbone, and be okay with losing people (permanently, if necessary), and you do that by walking away.

People who love themselves don’t tolerate any kind of rudeness or discourtesy. You have to be willing to walk away and never look back. And if the person has any respect for you, they will feel remorseful, they will find you and apologize, and they will refrain from doing it again – just like my friend did.

If they don’t respect you, then they won’t try to fix it once you’ve walked away, they’ll let you go and won’t think twice about it. And if that’s the case – good riddance. You just weeded out someone who doesn’t belong (or deserve to be) in your life.


Alex Brown is a Personal Development Speaker, Rapper, and Writer. He aims to motivate and inspire others to set and achieve their goals and create the life of their dreams. He has worked with schools, businesses and organizations on Personal Development to: Increase happiness and quality of life standards through self-discipline, inspire positive lifestyle change, and build confidence and improve self-image through practical goal setting. Clients bring Alex in to address staff in their workplace, speak to students in school assemblies and present at conference keynotes and special events. He runs his own Personal Development blog at:


  1. Learning to set boundaries is difficult and scary. But as you say, you have to clear about what is acceptable and what is not. I’ve gotten so much better at it. I’ve found that people do not usually react negatively, and I end up much happier. Thanks for the advice.

    • Hi Debbie – I hear what you say. Pat touched on some topics that affect most of us in some way or another.

  2. Ah, calling out bad behavior is so tricky! Most of the time we don’t want to offend someone by telling them the truth. Same goes for saying NO. And thus we get cornered by the bullies! Setting boundaries is a great first step! Thank you for the tips!

    • Hi Vidya…I know that was true for me for many years, especially not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings, never thinking that my feelings mattered too. Learning to set boundaries with phrases that helped me say no was a life changer.

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