How often do you try to brush it off when someone disrespects you? How often do you pretend it’s okay, or avoid confrontation, on the grounds that it supposedly shows you are stronger?
This text is about abuse and disrespect, in any way it manifests.
I had been raised to “ignore them” when kids made fun of or attempted to bully me at school.
I was told that letting them do as they wished showed I was superior to them, that I shouldn't endeavor in violence and lower myself to “their level”.
In truth, I was scared. But that was the point. The truth behind the “never fight back” approach is not one of spiritual superiority, of moral righteousness — despite so often being sugarcoated in those arguments — but of simple, sheer, silently raging fear.
If you allow others to disrespect you as a rule, everyone assumes you don’t mind. And to top it off, probably no one is really aware of your silent suffering — other than those who might go through the same.
The truth is, if you don’t stand up for yourself, no one will.
I was only liberated much later, at work.
My previous career was in I.T., working for a major telecommunications company, where I was part of a team interacting with other teams. As I became somewhat experienced as a project manager, I also became increasingly aggravated by those bullshit-blabbering consultant/analyst types that never acknowledge their own shortcomings, flaws, delays, never assume their own responsibilities, and by default always try to shove the consequences of said shortcomings (added effort, quick fixes, project changes, and blame itself) to others and their teams — including mine.
At one point - which was very much related with my personal spiritual awakening — I snapped. Or, better said, I allowed myself to snap.
Instead of trying to be cordial and diplomatic, trying to negotiate past another “challenging figure”, I allowed myself to go at the guy’s face when I smelled bullshit. I allowed myself to let the anger show, at least enough that it became clear to others who exactly was wrong, and to refuse taking on the blame for what was others’ responsibility.
For the first time, I allowed myself to feel and live through the anger instead of stuffing it inside. It felt better. I felt a better person, and was proud of myself from this. I found myself in a better situation, rather than “lowering the level” as I had been taught it would happen.
You see, everyone already knows who’s spewing meaningless, hollow bullshit out of their mouths in a work environment. It’s just that most people are too restrained about expressing it. So they get used to putting up with it. What I did was nothing more than reacting to something for what it really was. I wasn't wrong.
I had allowed myself not to fear confrontation.
And I usually won my battles that way. Why? Because it became perfectly clear to everyone at a meeting where the true fault was. I stopped taking other’s bullshit over my shoulders — and of my team’s.
I always felt vulnerable and frail. I was always trying to figure out smart arguments, witty responses, and understanding the intricacies of rules, to try to defend myself from bullying and injustice in a non-violent manner. Not only at“work”, but in life.
But now I felt protected. Because I could finally defend myself, stand up for myself. I no longer needed a logical justification to do so. The situation in itself is wrong to begin with.
This is not a call to become overly aggressive or confrontational by default.
If you get used to tackle every situation in life like a battle, a hostile fight between two opposing sides, and you deal with everything by shooting first and asking questions later, you become destructive. That’s the opposite end of the spectrum. You become known for being harsh and quarrelsome. No one will want to deal with you.
However, my point is not to confuse being a bad person with standing up for yourself.
Anger is the emotional indicator of disrespect and injustice. Hiding anger, in turn, is the emotional sign that you will allow it to happen.
Many confuse the defensive act of using that little bit of anger, with the expansive attacking posture of seeking egotistical gain at the expense of others. They mistake self-defense for malevolent intent.
So they remain silent and pretend they’re not affected when they are made fun of, put down, or treated below their true value by others, including family, including “loved” ones. Now the perpetrator has a soft target to go to, when he needs that little bit of a boost.
In the name of compassion and love, in the name of keeping the energy high, you’re allowing perpetrators to run rampant at your expense.
Tell me: where’s the compassion there? Where’s the Love?
That’s not compassion. You are not loving yourself, you are not being compassionate to yourself.
When someone comes into your turf, speaking bad or dismissing your things, occupying your space, or attempting to shove his values, beliefs, and actions in your life, no matter how good or bad intent it is done with, you can and should do something about it. You have to do whatever it takes for your right to be focused, in your center, in your zone.
The abuser is counting on your guilt, on your embarrassment, on your silence, to continue doing what he does.
Staying silent allows for the continuing of the abuse. It lets the abusers roam freely, unaccountable.
Don’t stay silent. Don’t pretend it’s nothing. Don’t be afraid to be a bad person. Don’t be afraid to reveal weakness. You’re already perceived that way. Speak up. Don’t be afraid to swear. Don’t be afraid to call a whining little bitch by its name.
Standing up for yourself doesn't drop the energy: it prevents it from dropping.
Not all battles can, or should, be fought.
Sometimes there’s zero to gain from confrontation. Sometimes you cannot possibly win, or your losses far surpass the gains. Sometimes situations are not linear, crystal clear, black and white. It is your discernment to know when it’s time to stay and fight, just how much force you are to apply, or when it’s just best to let go.
There are situations where it’s simply best to ignore negativity and move on, instead of reacting and getting involved in a pointless fight.
The main deciding factor is what and how you feel, your evolutionary stage in your life.
If you really are superior to something, if you are truly above a lower energy, by all means ignore it and move on. By all means, show love and compassion where others would show aggression and violence. By all means, take your time to process the situation and understand what it means to you, rather than going all out with guns blazing. By all means, turn darkness into Light that way.
It’s just that on some occasions, the way to bring Light into a situation is for you to stand up for yourself. The way to raise the energy is by having the guts to expose bullshit and disrespect for what they truly are.
Sometimes, reacting is your best defense.