Have you ever found yourself in a situation where someone says or does something that you consider inappropriate and you fight the urge to say something? Or even worse, someone says something inappropriate or demeaning to you and you let it go, convincing yourself that they didn’t mean it or that he or she is “just having a bad day”? We’re not talking about being a spoiled sport; most of us intuitively know when someone’s being funny versus passive aggressive or just plain mean. Why is it that so many of us have a difficult time finding our voice, our ability to speak up for ourselves and others?
Too often we are concerned about how we will be perceived by others if we say something contrary to the majority. We don’t want to be thought of as overly sensitive or someone who can’t take a joke, but where do we draw the line between having a sense of humour and being self-defeating and self-deprecating?
It’s such an intriguing issue that a television show has been created around it called What Would You Do? Scenarios are staged with actors among unsuspecting people to test if they will say anything in unscrupulous or immoral situations. Some people speak up, some stay quiet, but what is it that motivates us either way?
Those of us who don’t say anything defend our actions by saying that we are simply minding our own business, but is that really the case? How many of us stay quiet in inappropriate circumstances because we feel so disempowered in our lives. We question who we are to interfere or intervene. We don’t feel that we have a right to defend a stranger or we are afraid of what the offender will say or do to us.
What about the individuals who do speak up? What makes them different from those who choose not to say anything? If you’ve watched the show, those who challenge the wrong-doer seem very confident, very convicted in their obligation to make sure someone else, a stranger, isn’t taken advantage of. What is also interesting is that they don’t seem to think they’re doing anything extraordinary. They’re just doing the “right thing”, looking out for their fellow man.
So how do we find our voice? It comes with self-awareness and self-confidence. We need to be sure of who we are and uninterested in how we are perceived by others. When we are confident in who we are, our desire to protect or speak up for others who aren’t able to, outweighs our fear of being seen as overly sensitive or nosey. The real key is being able to listen to our hearts and not over-think things.
We are all capable of finding our voice. We just have to do the work on ourselves and build the confidence necessary to be able to speak our truth without fear. When we find ourselves in a position where the opinions of others are truly not any of our business, it frees us in a way that we can’t even begin to imagine!