I started my day with a great quote by Mark Nepo:
…when someone says or does something that hurts me — I have learned to absorb the hit and pretend that nothing has changed, that everything is the same. But when I do this, my energy is used up in maintaining the pretense that nothing has happened, and I begin to spin coldly in the dark.
OK so I didn’t ever get to the point where I could pretend that nothing had happened. But for many years I believed (learned through the process of shaming) that speaking up for myself was wrong.
I thought the fact that I felt hurt when someone was mean to me was a personal defect that needed to be fixed.
So I wouldn’t call out the people who needed to be called out, because I didn’t want anyone thinking I couldn’t handle it.
I wanted everyone to think I was strong and capable of letting things roll off my back.
Appearing strong was my forever goal in life.
But I would spin out on the inside. I’d go to town dissecting what had occurred, thinking up grandiose scenarios where I could have come out on top.
I would spend so much time in this state of internal conflict: I was addicted to thinking up ways in which I could speak up in some valiant way.
But I would rarely act on those imagined scenarios. And things were far from valiant when I did attempt to stand up for myself. Mostly it was an inflated, cartoonish version of me: super ragey, on the edge of cruelty.
I didn’t know how to express myself in a non-hostile manner.
Even though I did get a rush off of thinking up and espousing revenge statements, it was exhausting. And it crushed my spirit. All that expended energy, all because I felt it was wrong to speak the words:
“Hey. Don’t speak to me like that. It’s hurtful.”
In not giving myself permission to stand up for myself, I slowly began to dig my own grave.
It’s truly astonishing what we will put ourselves through when we don’t have any self-love.
What I’ve learned over the past couple years is that this act of sacrificing internal peace so that outsiders might think I am strong is total bullshit.
Silence is not the answer. It is damaging to my spirit and sets a shit example for other people.
Even though I know that my external environment is a direct representation of my internal environment — I call people out when they try to ridicule or shame me now.
That goes for employers, co-workers, in-laws, parents, siblings and partners.
I want to get away from inciting an internal atmosphere of torment, through non-ragey means.
I notice that when I speak up in real-time, I free myself of the energy drain that comes with complaining and judging.
Because that’s what we do: we dig around other people’s closets for undesirable assumptions so that we can lambaste them in retribution via gossiping.
But when we do that, we end up with the same set of undesirables in our own laps (what you give, you get back.)
So this system I have followed for so many years needs to be revamped. Because it’s all about fear, all the time. And no one’s winning anything living in that zone.
Time to break through the fear barrier and speak up.
“So that comment was pretty harsh <insert name>. Can you try that again? Perhaps reroute it down the kindness corridor first?”
OK, so that’s tailored to me, but it sets the stage.
Yes I used to get ragey when people were mean to me. Like next level nasty. But now a days I have this thing in me that says,
“Yes, Andrea, you may speak. You are worthy of using your voice.”
So I do.
In many ways, through speaking up to would-be bullies, I teach myself how to be kind to myself. Because there are days when I just don’t feel capable of doing that.
But I feel a hell of lot better saying the words, “That comment was really harsh. Can you be a bit more mindful of how you talk to me?” than I do when I bottle up the hurt.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s still scary territory. But here’s what’s even scarier:
- Keeping it all in.
- Being angry.
- Carrying that anger to other places and scenarios.
- Displacing my anger onto other innocent people.
- Feeling bad for lashing out at other people.
- Feeling shitty in general.
So I keep it simple: I breathe. And I speak up. And I make that effort because like a cover girl model, I’m fucking worth it.
Plus, I feel amazing afterward. I feel free. Better than any drug I’ve ever ingested.
It’s badass and thrilling and totally OK to tell someone to slow their roll when they say or do something mean. No if’s, and’s or but’s about it. 😊