This is something I learned the hard way. I couldn’t understand why I kept having to interact with people who were mean, disrespectful, rude, demeaning, and abusive to me. I would tell them it wasn’t acceptable, but then I’d stick around and re-engage with them.
So although my words were saying it wasn’t okay, my behavior was saying it was — in effect, I was showing them that I would complain about their behavior but then come back for more.
Finally I realized that I was teaching them how to treat me. I had taught them that they could be mean as long as they were willing to listen to me when I was upset; and that after I vented, I’d still stay connected. In other words, I was ‘all talk.’
This is true for personal and work relationships, but it’s also true with regard to our relationship with corporations and governing bodies (and the people who work in them).
If we hear about things that are happening in politics, the government, regulations being passed, etc. that we don’t like, and we do nothing about it but mumble or complain to our friends, then nothing will change. We must teach those in office (who are tasked to represent us) what it is that is important to us.
When we do this, we create a voice for ourselves. We begin to get the attention of those in positions of authority. But in order to make significant shifts, we must also make our behavior align with our voices.
For example, if Ophelia is upset about the slaughter of elephants and tigers, voicing her opinion is necessary, but will most likely not be sufficient to create change. She might also consider not buying products from the countries who continue these practices.
While this will take more effort on Ophelia’s part, it will also make a small difference. And if Ophelia gets others to join her, they can make a dent in the economics of the situation; and they will teach the exporters about what is important to consumers.
In order for others to take us seriously, we have to not just speak our truth and verbally enforce our boundaries, but we must also take action that is in alignment with our stated needs. For it is the action that will get attention.
Won’t you take a moment to consider how you are teaching others to treat you? And if you really want to see the situation shift, remember to combine actions with your words.
Imagine what we can create when we join together around common ideals and take action. This is truly the hope for our future as a civilization — that we shift our priorities so that our lifestyles, cultures, and governments reflect what is important to us as world citizens.
What priorities would you like to see humanity have?