I was indignant this past week. It started with a video, progressed into a statement art piece, and finally a PSA that has been my most popular post ever. It took a bit of reflection to realize how infuriated I was because part of my socialization as a woman is to care about the feelings of others. If someone is "nice" we are supposed to accept it even if they cross your boundaries. I am very careful about speaking when I am angry, because I do not want to inadvertantly cause harm because I am not thinking straight. Women are also conditioned to not express anger. When do we speak up and when do we stay silent? Thankfully, I have a very supportive circle of women who helped me to break out of second guessing myself. I keep talking about trusting your instinct, yet it takes me a long time to listen to what my inner self is telling me. I spoke out and it resonated with many people. Not speaking truth to power allows the bullies to win. They rely on our instinct to be nice. It may seem like overkill to respond to innocuous comments, but I found out that other people had been harmed as well. We must nip things in the bud before than escalate. Where I work we believe in the 1:10:100 rule, where we try and correct mistakes before they become a huge problem.
It was not easy to speak up. I really do not like conflict. I often contort myself to avoid it and I am realizing that I am not doing myself or others any favors. Oftentimes, I do not act because I do not want to look dumb or have to eat crow because I misread the situation. I am getting comfortable with failing out loud. Have I made mistakes? Absolutely. Did the world end. No! I spoke up and enforced my boundaries by sticking with discussing actions. Guess what? When I got it wrong, I apologized and people accepted it because they could see that I am a reasonbale person and trying to be open to other viewpoints. We are in this together and should try to lift as we climb. I want to see the best in everyone, but I also have to live in reality. I learned that not calling a spade a spade sooner allowed the person to harm others. Believe it or not, they tried to connect. I declined. Like I said, I do not owe anyone my energy. I do not hate them. I wish them well and hope they will reflect on what happened and grow as a human being.
We often shy away from the untamed (thanks Sara June) parts of ourself. It has taken personal reflection and putting in the time to see the messier feelings as teachers and guides. Anger is a natural response to a situation. It is generally not the primary emotion though. What did my response to what the person was saying trigger in me? I have been stalked in the past and have tolerated many uncomfortable situations because I did not want to be called a b****. In writing this blog and thinking about what happened, I am recognizing that I hate feeling hunted and I do not like when people are disengenuous. A coping technique has been to disassociate from the situation. I had mastered this to the point that I literally could not see what was happening. I had to borrow the outrage of others. Our impolite, disreputable parts have received a bad name. Yet, it was only when I tapped into those aspects of myself that I was able to find my voice and speak powerfully against the disrespect. My fears about speaking out were unfounded. What does not embracing your full self cost you?
My fear of being wrong cost me time and the opportunity to mitigate the harm of another. All of their posts have been removed, but it could have happened sooner. It goes beyond this one incident. I was speaking with another dear friend of mine and noticed that I had pointed out all the challenging things in my life. "Woe is me! I am playing the world's smallest violin." I recognized it and began to list the things I was grateful for. I am not advocating not feeling the feels. It is all an energy game. What we bring into focus has the most power in our lives. I could have focused on the things that kept me helpless, but by choosing to trust my instincts, I reclaimed my voice and my power. Are you focusing on the things that hold you back? What is one thing that you can do to move forward, no matter how small? You are not in this alone. So much love and support is available to us if we are courageous enough to ask for it and walk in your truth. Namaste.
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