You need to know you are worthy of love and defense.
There are days I consider who I was in the past and what I did or didn't do. But sometimes I wonder, who would I be if I had been stronger, believed in myself like I pretended, and didn't try to be loved or make people happy. How would those situations have turned out if I could have stoop up for myself? What would have happened if I had believed I was worth... loving.
Self-defense isn't just the physical act of defending yourself. The heart of defense, as a friend reminded me, is the knowledge that you are worthy of being defended. That you are worthy of being loved.
Does it seem odd I put those two together, being defended and being loved? If you are worthy of loving you don't do anything to be loved. You don't have to make people happy to be loved. You are just loved. And if someone loves you they will defend you, take care of you, watch over you, be there for you, protect you. It's really a natural combination when you think about it. And if we don't think we are worthy of being loved, why would we think we are worthy of being defended?
But you are, you know. Not only are you worthy of being love, you are loved. Right now. Right where you are. You are loved deeply and completely and continuously. Our God created your very being and every fiber. He knows when you are awake or asleep, all the thoughts in your head, and He loves you. There is nothing you can do which will make Him take His love away, no matter how hard you try. He will always love you. Just because you exist.
Once you know and realize how deep that love is for you, what generally happens next is you begin to love yourself. This is harder than we realize it to be. You are taught to think little of yourself. You are taught to put yourself last. How many times have you heard "God, Others, Yourself"? But somewhere in that message we have come to believe we have to think less of ourselves, even to the point of not liking ourselves. But I don't think that's the answer.
Humble. Yes, we should be humble. But how do you take care of others if you aren't taking care of yourself? How do you love others if you don't love yourself? If you can't accept that God truly loves you, how do you believe He truly loves others? You must realize it's more than okay to love yourself. To think rightly of who you are, a creation of God, is necessary. To believe you are worthy, not because of anything you have done; but nothing you've done makes you unworthy either. And so you can love yourself right where you are right now.
And once you can do that, you don't accept cheap love from others. You don't bend over backwards trying to make someone happy so they love you. You will say no when someone or something crosses your boundary. You will realize it's not your job to make someone else happy. You will know that being a peace keeper and placating someone are not the same thing. You will be able to stand up and defend yourself and others, because you know you are loved.