Far too often, we teach children that sitting still is the definition of being good. This translates, in our adult lives, into not interfering when interference is called for. Whether your personal boundaries are being violated or someone is doing something out in the world that is patently wrong, speaking up is the right thing to do. Bad actors will continue to act badly until someone calls them on their behavior.
There is a thread of sentiment running through our society that values independence or freedom above all else. The challenge is that the interpretation by the people espousing independence/freedom is wrong – they are equating immature selfishness with freedom, which isn’t free at all. When someone acts from ego, they are enslaved by their lower desires and are easily manipulated. An empowered person knows their values and stands in integrity, and they are not likely to be manipulated.
Interestingly, some of the same people who claim to value independence and freedom are the ones trying to impose their will on others, because they are operating from judgment rather than discernment. Not allowing someone to act poorly does not mean that you are to be the policemen of the world. It simply means that you are not to sit idly by while all around you people act unkindly, unthinkingly, or improperly. But who is to judge the actions of another? And how does one call attention to such a thing without drawing unwanted negativity upon themselves?
Remove emotion and personal information from the assessment. If you are having an emotion about the action, you are taking it personally, and any assessment you make and any information you impart will be emotionally charged. Breathe. Feel the soles of your feet. Allow yourself to become aware of what is, rather than how you want it to be. Take a moment to observe.
Is the action directly harmful to another?
Does the risk of harm outweigh the benefits of the action?
Accept that you may not be an expert on the issue at hand, and remain open to additional information. There are always factors in play of which you might not be aware.
Speak from your heart, from a place of love. While you might judge the action, avoid judging the person. Over the course of my lifetime, I have watched people get worse at this part. I do my best to remember that I have no way of knowing what brought a person to do an objectionable act, because then I can have hope that their actions can change. If they are just a bad person, their actions will never change, and I believe everyone has the capacity for change and growth.
You may find that, as you go through your assessment and let go of any personal issues you might be having with the action, there is no longer any need to speak to the person. This happens when you have been triggered, and the assessment releases the trigger (at least for that time) and what you originally saw as an injustice no longer is. Focusing on what is, rather than the lens through which we see an action, helps to start to defuse triggers and reduce trauma. This helps us grow and evolve.
The thing to watch out for here is using this technique as an excuse to not focus on yourself. The only things you have control over are your actions and reactions (and that second only when you are focusing on your own spiritual growth); therefore, those are of primary importance. Act well yourself, keep your negative ego in check, and make sure your actions and motivations are clean above all else. The more you do this, the more positive energy you will attract into your life, and the more positive your experiences will be.
This post is part of a new series called Monday Message, based on that day’s reflection from 365 Days to Enlightenment (authorized versions are currently out of print, working on a new edition). Check back next Monday for another one! You can also sign up for the Daily Message on my mailing list if you’d like to receive a new reflection every day. I also often post them to Instagram, if that’s a medium you enjoy.