If we always walk away from confrontation, convincing ourselves that we are the better person by not responding, sometimes that can be egoic in itself… because often the real message is that doing so will somehow prove to others that the issue doesn’t bother us, and therefore mean that we must be the bigger and better person.
Personally, I don’t believe it does. Because the two don’t always add up…
Not standing up for yourself and choosing to walk away can be done in several energies:
- Lovingly (no triggers)
- Fearfully (lots of triggers)
- Or manipulatively (got one over on you, because everyone else will think I’m the better person because I appear not to be bothered)
Only you know the energy in which you’re doing it. The most important part is in understanding what you are either standing up or down for…
When I was bullied at school, nothing changed until I had the courage to verbally stand up to the bully and confront her in exactly the same manner that she confronted me and others. She needed to experience what it was like from her victim’s perspective. From then on she never bullied again, and she became a nice person. I actually became friends with her, and learned that she had an illness which depleted her confidence, so why she bullied in the first place became evident. At first I used to walk away fearfully, choosing not to respond, until she was affecting my life so badly that I had to do something. Had I been older and know what I know now, would I choose to walk away lovingly to someone who made it their goal to deplete my happiness in life? Very unlikely. Sometimes nothing changes when we choose that option…
My bully’s anger was not going to subside until she saw it from the other side… someone standing up to her verbally was actually a vital part of her growth, and it was also a vital part of mine. Two birds with one stone… how awesome is that! From that day forward I was never fearful to stand up for myself again, and she realised just how much she was hurting others and became a better person as a result.
In just the same way, when I fell into a low point 10 years ago, someone who loves me very much refused to listen to my victim mentality any more. She had listened long enough, until she decided to hold me absolutely accountable to myself. She told me in no uncertain terms that she was no longer prepared to listen to my complaining if I was not willing to take action to change it. She bought me a personal development book and told me to read it. With no one to complain to, I had to grow up. She unwittingly began my journey into personal development, which ultimately changed the course of my life. Had she chosen to respond lovingly by not allowing my continued complaining to bother her, then nothing whatsoever would have changed… not one thing. She learned and I learned. I love her dearly for having had the courage to do that. I know what a loving woman she is, and that must have been hard for her, but I was moaning a lot back then!
Could she have ‘loved’ me into that immense shift without sharing the painful truth with me. No, because I was in a negative place and would not have heard what she was trying to say. In fact, she would have been reinforcing my negative state of mind by giving me the huge payoff of lots of attention.
Each and every one of us creates our own life. We either bring out the best or worst in how others show up around us, and this is something we need to take responsibility for. Sometimes that means that the people around us need to stand up against us to protect themselves against our behaviour. Sometimes we need to stand up against others to do the same.
And so sometimes, living your inner peace means that you stand up and speak your mind. You can generally achieve this lovingly and truthfully. Either way, it is important to honour yourself. The more factually you can speak your truth, the better. When it becomes defensive and personal, it can create mess… so these situations are also good for teaching us how to communicate properly. Either way, they teach us how to find our voice.
Suffice to say, it’s part of our journey to learn how to respond lovingly to bring about the best outcome and the best in others. When you do, you can bring someone back into a good place by remaining loving, non-judgemental, empathic, and by choosing not to make their pain about you. However, a time limit does need to be drawn, and it’s up to you to decide how long that is. Some will be determined to remain in a negative energy, and it’s in these situations where part of your learning and growth is in knowing when it’s time to hold up the mirror to both yourself and them.
In holding up the mirror to yourself, you could consider the following: Are you fearful of a negative response from them? Are you fearful they may no longer like you? Are you fearful of rejection? Are you fearful of what people might think? So many inner fears tend to prevent us from sharing the truth of how we really feel… and so we keep complaining that our boundaries are being overstepped. But they’re not, because the only person you’re really cross with is yourself for not stepping up and speaking your mind.
When this happens, both people stay firmly stuck. One keeps giving while resenting, and the other keeps receiving payoffs for their pain.
As we practise finding our voice, the journey itself will teach us which situations to walk away from (when it really isn’t your argument), which to stand up for (something that you value greatly), and the energy in which you do either (the bullet points above). These three elements are in fact the most important part of learning this life skill. Otherwise everything bothers you, or nothing bothers you at all, which is pretty close to detachment and apathy…
To achieve this, you need to know yourself, know your values, your purpose, and believe in what you are willing to stand up and be counted for… and the vast difference it makes to humanity when you do.