When I was growing up, my parents taught me to treat people with respect as long as they were respectful to you. The common golden rule that murmurs something closely related to ‘treat others as you wish to be treated’.
For several years, I struggled to find my voice when faced with people who hadn’t been raised with the golden rule. Instead of being disrespectful or confrontational in negative situations (to treat the person the same way they treated me), I would sink into myself and accept the poor treatment. A few months ago, I put my foot down and declared that I needed to learn “no” and find my voice.
Since then, “no” has been slinking its way into my vocabulary while I’ve been pushing away fear of backlash. This experience has made me start to realize how much I don’t say; how much I accept with a nod of the head, despite the disrespect behind someone else’s words.
Lately something has been itching under my skin. There’s an urge to be honest and real, to share my voice and thoughts, even in negative situations layered with disrespect and disagreement.
When someone’s angry words ripple my way, I feel the need to say “no”. To tell them they are wrong/hurtful/over-the-line. To have them hear my voice, hear my words, and know that I won’t continue to just nod along.
When someone makes judgmental comments about how I feel or what I want in life, I feel the need to say “no”. To tell them it’s not their place to say what I think, feel, or want. To have them understand that their beliefs do not outweigh mine, regardless of biological years or life experience.
The challenge lies in finding a balance between forming a voice and still giving respect to others, whether we find ourselves in positive or negative situations. While this balance mostly still alludes me, I’ve found that similar to love, many clichés prove true in balancing your voice and respect.
It’s wise to pick your battles. Not all battles or words are worth fighting over. Similarly, sometimes it’s better to be the bigger person. To look beyond the words of someone else and try to see to the root of their emotions, the drive behind their words. Most importantly, in some situations, it’s best to just let go. You’ll never be heard by a person consumed with their own negativity or hostile voice.
And last, but not least, the cliché reminder according to either Dr. Seuss, Mark Young, or Bernard Baruch: Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.
With the golden rule, how do you handle negative people or situations?
How do you make your voice heard?