“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.”
— Malala Yousafzai
If we don’t speak up, who will hear us? We can apply this concept globally by pointing out injustice or inequality, for example, and/or we can make this personal and contemplate all the ways in which we remain silent in our own lives.
Warning: here comes a Marissa catch phrase… ‘Life is about compromise, but we were never meant to compromise ourselves.’ (You’ll hear that one a lot.) We all have boundaries—lines we don’t want others to cross, parameters in which we feel comfortable operating within, i.e., our comfort zones. When people cross those boundaries, negative things happen. We can get hurt—physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. We can suffer from regret, guilt, doubt, anger and self-recrimination.
When people cross our boundaries, how many of us speak up? When people impose their judgements and opinions on us, or belittle us and undermine our self-worth and confidence, how many of us speak up? Family members, peers, partners, co-workers, supervisors… when people we respect and trust do this, how many of us let it pass, or speak out only in our mind—imagining all the things we wish we could say?
Speaking our truth is never easy. We run the risk of alienation and rejection—something we as social creatures avoid at all costs. But what if the cost is our own happiness and self-worth? When do we draw the line? When do we speak up for ourselves? When do we say enough is enough?
No one likes confrontation and very few people handle criticism well, but if we’ve been wronged or hurt, we need to express it. No one is above the truth. Not even ourselves. Denying the injury or pretending we are okay is a serious roadblock to healing. We need to be honest with ourselves. That stomach lurch when we consider confronting an issue is what typically stops us from going further and we gloss the matter over or sweep it under the rug. This often results in frustration or resentment.
Communication is key in a healthy relationship. If we can’t speak about what’s on our mind, or bring up questions or concerns, or point out hurt or wrongdoing then we need to examine the relationship. In my post Relationships and Monkeys, I talk to the idea of getting rid of negative relationships in our lives. But before we get to that point, we should always try to have open and honest communication with the people in our lives. It’s not always easy—for either party— but it’s necessary.
I’ve been together with my husband for 27 years. That doesn’t happen without a solid foundation of communication (plus he’s cute and funny, so that doesn’t hurt either.) We’ve built a relationship on trust and mutual respect. My concerns are not more important than his and vice versa. We listen to each other and then we reflect: How can we do this better? How can we make this work for both of us? It’s a partnership. A team effort. When one person isn’t happy, it effects the entire relationship. We also have to be humble enough to admit when we’re wrong and apologize for any transgressions. Then we have to step up and correct our behaviour. This is all about compromise. But, compromising and being compromised are two very different things.
There’s no mutual respect and trust when someone compromises our boundaries. It’s controlling at worst, and insensitive at best. Stand up for yourself. Speak up for yourself. Honour your truth.