“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” – Ayn Rand
How many can remember a time when your life was in turmoil? A time when crawling under a rock and hiding forever seemed like the best option for you. You know those moments when it was easier to stay in the shadows of your truth, versus confronting it head on? Whether it was due to fear, anxiety, shame or perhaps it has been who you are for most of your life, so it comes natural to blend in or allow others to dictate how actions should be taken regarding your life. I’m not here to judge or throw stones, but I suppose we have all been there for various reasons at some point in our lives.
I can recall a time when that man lived big in me. He rarely said a thing and he complied to “what was” regardless of how he felt. Back then it was easier to follow that path, but never was it more effective, rewarding or the right thing to do. I constantly found myself in the passenger seat of life, waiting my turn to drive. Driving seldom happened. It’s a pattern I developed as a child and simply carried into adulthood. Don’t rock the boat is another way to describe it.
One day something changed. Well maybe it wasn’t simply an occurrence of one day, but a chain of events over a course of time where I begin to realize, that not only did my voice matter, but I actually had one. One that was courageous, bold and able to navigate through tough conversations and difficult times, while simultaneously remaining respectful, thoughtful and sensitive to the topics at hand or persons involved.
Tough conversations still remain tough, however now I believe they are tougher when I fail to engage in them. There are situations where my patience is tried and my will is tested, however I no longer evade them, but I now see them as opportunities to grow, provide essential clarity to a situation or challenge the status quo. Unfortunately the ones I communicate with do not always equally carry this as a value, so conflict is inevitable. I still choose to welcome it versus shun it like I used to in the past. I seek the best outcome, regardless of what that may look like and who’s feelings it may hurt.
As I grow stronger and wiser in this area of my life, I keep a few rules for balance and staying true to what really matters, even during a difficult time. They are as follows:
1. Live by the golden rule – Always treat people the way you want to be treated. Sounds simple enough, but not always easy to pull off. Consider others and how you would feel if it were you. Empathize.
2. Apologize quickly and with sincerity – Nothing diffuses a dissenting situation like an authentic apology. Don’t allow it to fester and grow wings overnight. The sooner we can make amends, the sooner we can get to the core issues and work on resolutions.
3. Own your part of the problem – No one is perfect, so when you make a poor decision, own it. Don’t take on what’s not yours, just own your part. If the other party own’s their part then great, and if they don’t, then great, because you’re only responsible for you.
4. Always tell the truth – No one likes a liar. (Been there done that) The end is you lose, even when you think you’re winning. Learn to be honest with yourself first. From there, great conversations can be experienced.
So whatever you are safe facing today, never shrink back because of fear. Confront life and all its glory, head on. Sometimes you will win and other times you won’t, but the goal is about being a player on the field of your life, versus watching it like a game being played by others. Even when things are difficult, and when loved ones hurt because of your decisions, stand strong and apply these four things and you will live guilt free and with honor and dignity.