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Don’t Stay Silent When You Are Being Disrespected

close-up of angry-looking catHow often do you try to brush it off when someone disrespects you? How often do you pretend it’s okay, or avoid confrontation, on the grounds that it supposedly shows you are stronger?

This text is about abuse and disrespect, in any way it manifests.

I had been raised to “ignore them” when kids made fun of or attempted to bully me at school. I was told that letting them do as they wished showed I was superior to them, that I shouldn’t endeavor in violence and dropped to “their level”.

In truth, I was scared. But that was the point. The truth behind the “never fight back” approach is not one of spiritual superiority, of moral righteousness — despite so often being sugarcoated in those arguments — but of simple, sheer, silently raging fear.

The truth is, if you allow others to disrespect you as a rule, everyone knows you don’t mind. And to top it off, probably no-one is really aware of your silent suffering — other than those who might go through the same.

The truth is, if you don’t stand up for yourself, no-one will.

I was only liberated much later, when I was working.

My previous career was in I.T., working for a major telecommunications company, where I was part of a team interacting with others teams. At one point, especially when I was somewhat experienced as a project manager, I became seriously aggravated by those bullshit-blabbering consultant/analyst types that never ever acknowledge their own shortcomings, flaws, delays, of their own team, that never take on their own responsibility in things, and by default always try to shove the consequences (added effort, quick-fixed, project changes, and, blame itself) of said shortcomings to others.

At one point – which was very much related with my personal spiritual awakening — I snapped. Or, better said, I allowed myself to snap.

Instead of trying to be cordial and diplomatic, trying to negotiate past another “challenging figure”, I allowed myself to go at the guy’s face when I smelled bullshit. I allowed myself to let the anger show, at least enough that it became clear to others who exactly was wrong, at least enough to refuse taking on the blame that was others’ responsibility.

For the first time, I allowed myself to feel and live through the anger instead of stuffing it in. I felt better with myself. I felt a better person, and proud of myself from this. I found myself in a better situation, rather than “lowering the level” as I had been taught.

You see, everyone already knows who’e spewing meaningless, hollow bullshit out of their mouths in a work environment. It’s just that most people are too restrained about expressing it. So they get used to put up with it. They end up finding it a normal thing. And what I did was nothing more than reacting to something for what it really was. I wasn’t wrong.

I had allowed myself to not fear confrontation.

And I usually won my battles that way. Why? Because it became perfectly clear to everyone at a meeting where was the true fault. I stopped taking other’s bullshit over my shoulders — and of my team’s.

Before I had always felt vulnerable and frail. I was always trying to figure out smart arguments, witty responses and the intricacies of rules, in an attempt to try to defend myself from bullies and injustice in a non-violent manner. Not only in “work”, but life in general.

But now I felt protected. Because I felt I could defend myself, stand up for myself. I no longer needed a justification to defend myself. The situation is wrong to begin with.

This is not a call to become overly aggressive or confrontational by default.

If you get used to tackle every situation in life like if it’s a battle, a hostile fight between two opposing sides, and you deal with everything by shooting first and asking questions later, you become too destructive. That’s the opposite end of the spectrum. You become known for being harsh and confrontational. No-one will want to deal with you.

However, my point is not to confuse being a bad person with standing up for yourself.

Anger is the emotional indicator of disrespect and injustice. Hiding anger is, in turn, the emotional sign that you will allow it to happen.

Many confuse the defensive act of using that little bit of anger, with the expansive attacking posture of seeking egotistical gain at the expense of others. They mistake self-defense for malevolent intent.

So they remain silent and pretend they’re not affected when they are made fun of, put down, or treated below their true value by others, including family, including “loved” ones. Now the perpetrator has a soft target to go to, when he needs that little bit of a boost.

So in the name of compassion and love, in the name of keeping the energy high, you’re allowing perpetrators to run rampant at your expense.

Tell me: where’s the compassion there? Where’s the Love?

That’s not compassion. You are not loving yourself, you are not being compassionate to yourself.

When someone comes into your turf, speaking bad or dismissing your things, occupying your space, or attempting to shove his values, beliefs, and actions in your life, no matter how good or bad intent it is done with, you can and should do something about it. You have to do whatever it takes for your right to be focused, in your center, in your zone.

The abuser is counting on your guilt, on your embarrassment, on your silence, to continue doing what he does.

Staying silent allows for the continuing of the abuse. It lets the abusers roam free, unaccountable.

Don’t stay silent. Don’t pretend it’s nothing. Don’t be afraid to be a bad person. Don’t be afraid to reveal weakness. You’re already perceived that way. Speak up. Don’t be afraid to swear. Don’t be afraid to call a whining little bitch by its name.

Standing up for yourself doesn’t drop the energy: it prevents it from dropping.

Not all battles can, or should, be fought.

Sometimes there is zero to gain from confrontation. Sometimes you cannot possibly win, or your losses far surpass the gains. Sometimes situations are not linear, crystal clear, black and white. It is your discernment to know when it’s time to stay and fight, just how much force you are to apply, or when it’s just best to let go.

There are, of course, situations where it’s simply best to ignore negativity and move on, instead of reacting and getting involved in a pointless fight.

The main deciding factor is what and how you feel, your evolutionary stage in your life.

If you really are superior to something, if you are truly above a lower energy, by all means ignore it and move on. By all means, show love and compassion where others would show aggression and violence. By all means, take your time to process the situation and understand what it means to you, rather going all out with guns blazing. By all means, turn darkness into Light that way.

It’s just that, sometimes, the way to bring Light into a situation is for you to stand up for yourself.

Sometimes, the way to raise the energy is by having the guts to expose bullshit and disrespect for what they truly are.

Sometimes, reacting is your best defense.

  • The Path

    Thank you so much for writing this article. I can totally relate to your article. I have shouldered so much junks from other people. I always thought and believed by accepting whatever people dump onto me is an act of “loving”. Time and experience has taught me how wrong I was. I can name so many examples of why this is a wrong and false concept. I think it is very true that one cannot love/accept others when one learns to love/accept oneself. By taking on whatever others dump onto you without examining your own boundaries, feelings and needs is an act of self negligence and punishment. You are essentially punishing yourself for others’ beliefs, actions, and emotions. On top of that, you also enabling others to step away from their responsibility and further encouraging their behaviors. Love is about creating acceptance and space for yourself and others. To me this means learn to forgive, to let go and not to hang on hatred, anger and hurt, but at the same time also make do your part to protect and care for yourself. This is self love and compassion.

    • Thank you The Path. I agree.

      “Love is about creating acceptance and space for yourself and others.” I really liked this.

  • dandelia loro

    Thank you for this sincere and completely on point article. I’m scared by the idea of being the “bad one”, the “villain” in the room. Many times, when somebody disrespects me I tell myself to ignore them even if I know that the only way to stop said treatment is to react, showing my anger. I’m working on it.
    Thank you again for this article, I’m going to save it and read it everytime I feel insecure or doubtful!

    • Hi dandelia. Thank you so much for your words.

      When someone doesn’t bother to respect you when addressing you, *they* are being the “villain” in the room.

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