(#22) Bear’s Message: “Stand Up for Yourself!”

“Stand up and face your fears, or they will defeat you.” —LL Cool J

“In many ways, history is marked as ‘before’ and ‘after’ Rosa Parks. She sat down in order that we all might stand up, and the walls of segregation came down.” —Jesse Jackson

As noted in the quote by Jesse Jackson, Rosa Parks was one of those heroic figures in recent history who by refusing to move to the back of the bus challenged the existing policy of segregation, propelling a radical change in public policy. Mahatma Gandhi was able to make a stand for what he believed to be right and true, and through nonviolent protest was able to persuade the British government to relinquish their grip on India such that it became an independent country. John F. Kennedy challenged the leader of the Soviet Union and by doing so convinced him to have the missiles they had installed in Cuba dismantled and removed.

In addition to these examples there are numerous other heroic figures throughout history who have made a stand for what they believed in. They are models of courage and determination whose stories can inspire you to speak up for yourself even if there is some risk of disagreement or disapproval. It isn’t always easy to do, especially if you fear that someone will not like what you say.

The voice of Bear spirit in the Children’s Spirit Animal Cards is quite naturally the one to address this. The message on the card itself is “Stand up for yourself.” In the accompanying guidebook he elaborates further on this message:

“This is a time to stand up for yourself and trust your instincts. Be brave when facing others who don’t approve of you or don’t like what you have to say, especially when you express something you truly believe in. It’s not about you being right and making the bearother person wrong, but about trusting in what you believe. Although it’s nice when others agree with you, it’s really not necessary that they do, but it is necessary to treat them with respect no matter what.

“Standing up for yourself is also different than making a stand against someone or something. It takes courage to do so, but it also takes courage to know when to let go and when to compromise. If in doubt, ask a trusted adult such as your mother or father, to support you or guide you in a different way to handle the situation.”

Just as with the other spirit animal messages, there are activities in which children can engage that further reinforce the message:

* The next time you notice an uncomfortable feeling with what someone wants you to do and you’d rather not do it, just respectfully say “No, I’d rather not.”
* If there’s a cause that you feel strongly about, such as helping animals out, make a plan about what you want to do about it and then do it.
* Whatever the rules are at your home, such as you’re not allowed to watch movies that are more than G or PG rated, follow those rules when you’re out with friends or at a friend’s house no matter what kind of pressure you feel from your friends.

Other suggestions are provided for parents that help their child learn to stand up for herself:

* Show your child how to stand up for herself by modeling assertiveness (rather than aggressiveness).   By responding to situations rather than simply reacting you can model a collaborative approach to problem solving.
* Encourage your child to try a second time for something they really want rather than letting their initial disappointment be the deciding factor.
• Encourage them to be active in a cause that is meaningful to them.

By supporting your children’s ability to stand up for themselves and for what they believe in, it will help them as adults deal that much more effectively with their world. Who knows? Perhaps your child will be the one to change the world.

“Stand up to your obstacles and do something about them. You will find that they haven’t half the strength you think they have.” —Norman Vincent Peale 

“It’s really important to stand up for yourself and not always agree with what people say if indeed you don’t feel that it’s true.” —Lily Collins

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