Standing Up For Myself

This weeks blog may be a bit confusing since I am sorting this out as I go. What has been attempting to make it’s way into my consciousness are thoughts regarding expressing genuine power by standing up for one’s self. Standing up for myself in an appropriate and assertive manner is something that I have been working on for a while. Growing up, I was usually the smallest person I knew. Older siblings, kids in school and where we lived, and even co-workers were all physically larger and stronger than me. When being picked on, if I stood up for myself or tried to join in by playing back, I would inevitably find myself being pounced on with even more vigor. This coupled with the usual insecurities of youth, created a response of surrender. In spite of understanding my history and growing immensely psychologically and spiritually, I still find myself reacting with fear when I know I want to stand up for myself by speaking up. I’m not talking about defending. I’m talking about times when I know that my intuition and soul want me to say “hey, enough.”

I am fully aware of my reactive cycle. A boundary is crossed, I tense up, I want to say something, fear of rejection takes over, my body responds with tension, and then I choose: stuff, mumble, or speak up. This all happens in seconds. It never ceases to amaze me how much drama we can create, internally and externally, at the speed of light. Years of personal growth have allowed me to create space to fully witness and understand this process as it takes place. Fortunately, as I heal, grow, and allow my soul to expand it’s presence in my life, the instances that trigger my neurotic self are far fewer in scope and occurrence. But, that doesn’t diminish my realization that I still have work to do if I am to stand in my power by responding appropriately to my desire for respect and kindness.

I’m not talking about the instances when it is obvious that another has ill intentions towards me. I’m referring to the more subtle times when we are challenged by someone who we know cares for us, and yet they are not paying attention or fully aware of the impact of their actions and words. Just like being bullied physically, verbal abuse can foster damaging consequences. Many a time, we are veiled in a cloud of denial and defensiveness creating abusive attacks on one another. Vulnerabilities frequently get translated into acts of aggression or retreat. Standing in genuine power is finding the balance between the two. Neither defending, withdrawing (unless that’s the most appropriate thing to do for protection), or attacking. Power is learning to act from our souls in the face of our neuroses.

Even when I know my soul wants me to speak up, my ego self can scream; no, it’s too risky. And, given how quickly our reaction can take place, the physiological response can carry it’s own weight by suggesting the perceived threat is greater than it really is. We can tell ourselves that there is no point in asserting ourselves, things will just go poorly or the same as before, so don’t bother it’s just not worth the energy and effort. But, rationalizing is just another way to diminish ourselves and squash self respect. Healing and growth require risk taking. The greatest risk is in confronting personal fears, denials, and nurturing authentic strength. It takes courage to heal. Courage is born from acting in the face of fear, or as some say, it’s not really an act of courage. For me, this means walking my talk of self respect. I understand that if a relationship is mutually beneficial and caring, then it can survive conflict. A healthy relationship creates space for both parties to express respect and request kindness. Even when perspectives are very different, there can be room to create agreeable boundaries. Trusting and having faith in a relationship, regardless of the long term outcome, is a necessary component for expressing genuine power. The challenge is to place our faith and trust in our authentic selves. Knowing that nudges me along my path to living, standing, and breathing through my soul self.

As I gather my soul, I hope to find a voice that expresses my ability to stand up for myself in loving kindness and strength. My hope is to foster mutual respect, compassion, and empathy. My dream used to be to live without the fear and drama of having to stand up for myself, but I know better. Life is not a fantasy, humanity embodies neuroses and intuition, and we are all in this dance together.

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