When Standing Up For What’s Right Leaves You Feeling Like The Bad Guy

The Hard Reality of Doing the Right Thing

We all know that the right and moral thing to do when becoming aware of the injustices of the world is to speak up. Do the right thing. Don’t sit by and watch it happen. This is something we universally feel is right. But what we don’t talk about is how vulnerable and often alone one feels when speaking up. We forget that the witness is often tossed into a situation that they would rather not be associated with. And how speaking out for what’s right is often at the price of stepping away from something you love. 

It’s probably fair to say that we have all witnessed something along our journey that didn’t sit well within our souls, yet we remained silent. 

  • Silent because we feared being called out ourselves. 
  • Silent because we were trying to fit in. 
  • Silent because our jobs depended on it.
  • Silent because we felt powerless to do anything.

These experiences help us find our courage when another opportunity is shown. Yes, it will still feel scary. You may be shaking as you speak or lose your train of thought. After all, you didn’t anticipate being faced with a moral dilemma today. But you do know what right and wrong feel like, so you can sleep better knowing you had the courage to speak up. 

It seems that in today’s world there are a lot of opportunities to get involved and rally for change, equality, and freedom. The trouble is it is equally as easy to sit behind a computer and judge everyone else without any repercussions. It takes courage to stand up and say something, knowing it would be easier not to. But at what cost are we keeping our mouths shut?

“The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.” Albert Einstein

Over this past week, a colleague of mine did something that ruffled my feathers! A direct violation of conduct was breached. I was immediately upset and clearly was able to communicate the harmful indecency of the matter. At the time I thought that it went without saying that what this person did was wrong. Being a witness to something that breaks a barrier of human decency and left a fellow colleague embarrassed, belittled, and defeated.

I soon began to realize that others were looking at me as the problem. The organization involved was anxious to sweep this bad behavior under the rug, not wanting to bring too much attention to it, with an attitude of “we all lose our tempers now and again.” They were willing to allow this bad behavior because of this individual’s role within our community. They didn’t want HR involved because of the paper trail it would create and how it could harm this person’s relationship with the organization. 

I was shocked! I knew I couldn’t let this go, and I couldn’t understand how they could let this pass without any kind of repercussion. 

It felt scary to stand up to those telling me to calm down. I began to question myself, and wonder if I really was the problem. 

Thankfully I have my breath practice to help center me when under this kind of pressure. 

One of the things I talk to my clients about all the time is using their breath to stand in their truth. Our breath is so powerful, and because each breathing pattern is associated with a different emotion I was able to discern the strong unsettling emotions I was feeling through a pattern of short tight breaths. I knew this wasn’t normal or right for me, and the more this organization tried to silence me the tighter my breath became. 

I knew that keeping silent to please those around me was the easy path, but that it would start a war within me that I would have to live with for the rest of my life.

Using my breath to center me was my guide. It gave me strength to allow the situation to be uncomfortable. It kept me calm where I could have easily back-pedaled to keep the peace. It allowed me to speak my truth and keep pushing for something to be done or at the very least documented when I could sense the irritation from those in power who would benefit from my silence. 

Before I found my breath my reaction to this situation might have looked very different. I would easily fold at the first sideways glance that I might be causing trouble. I’m a peace-keeper after all, but now, through age and wisdom, I know that sometimes keeping the peace for others can cause years of turmoil within my soul. 

The situation hasn’t been resolved, but steps are being laid to assure prevention of this type of violation of trust and conduct. I believe this path will be long and uncomfortable, but my heart and breath are moving with more ease for sticking with it. 

That’s the thing with breathwork. You never know how valuable it is until you find yourself in a situation where balancing yourself is necessary to proceed. 

If you are interested in using the power of your breath to center and control your emotions in challenging situations, contact me to learn about my one-on-one sessions, or join Breath Mindset. An online course and community designed to help you recognize your own truth being centering into your breath. You can also read up about breathwork in a bunch of my past blogs, like this one, Breathwork is the New Meditation.

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