Many people would call me courageous. Being suddenly single at the same time your sister dies certainly takes courage. Moving forward to build a new life with two small children certainly takes courage. Traveling all over the world certainly takes courage. Pushing leaders to be better certainly takes courage.
But there was always an area where I knew I lacked courage. I was never good at standing up for myself when people were mean, critical, dismissive or otherwise disrespectful to me.
I bore many slights in the name of getting along because I would rather throw roses than stones; I never intend to be unkind or mean in any way. I like this part of me, but I know that sometimes people take advantage of my good nature. One friend once suggested perhaps I might want to try on a little righteous indignation occasionally. She phrased it so beautifully that it made sense to me: I would not have to change who I was, but I could, on occasion when warranted, speak up.
So I tried on a little righteous indignation: I pushed back on a bullying family member by saying no to an unreasonable request; I pointed out to a constantly-critical colleague that they seemed to find it difficult to say good things about me, and I called a date out on his hypocritical and insincere behavior. I think this is what’s referred to as ‘using your voice’ and it…felt…wonderful.
I realized I could speak up firmly yet compassionately. I could get my point across and advocate for myself without being mean or getting angry.
And the best thing? It was so much easier than I thought, and I did not have to ruminate over the situation in my head for days and weeks afterwards. I said what I needed to say in a way that allowed me to be true to myself without stepping over the problem.
Where have you stepped over something that needed to be said? Could you do that now?