It can be tricky to master the balance between standing up for your authentic truth and being sensitively compassionate towards those who do not embrace that truth.
It’s tricky for me, anyway. Mastering balance in general is a true ordeal.
I mean, I can stand up for my authentic truth.
And I can be sensitively compassionate.
But can I do both, simultaneously?
Of course I can.
So can everyone.
It takes practice, practice, practice.
And the humility to truly listen to other people’s perspectives, even if their number one goal is to shut you down.
And to respond with understanding instead of anger.
Because the truth is, everyone has a story that is equally valid to yours.
That goes for anyone you perceive to be your friends or enemies. Your family. The person who delivers your mail. Every random person you see walking down the street, and every person everywhere that you don’t see.
They have all laughed and cried, gotten sick, thrown up, been in love, had passions, and had their dreams pulverized by circumstances beyond their control.
If someone thinks that the authentic truth that you express is dangerous, misguided, ignorant, or worse- well, they have valid reasons for feeling that way.
And maybe they have a point. But you’ll never know if you do not humble yourself enough to listen.
Whatever the message is you want to share with the world, it is a mathematical certainty that you’ll be met with resistance.
If your message goes against social norms, then you better buckle up, baby. You’re going for a crazy ride.
I see this happening with some of my friends who speak up against vaccinations. One friend in particular, is a total beast when it comes to research. She can give you a hundred links that build a strong case against vaccinations.
But her perspective is considered dangerous and ignorant in the eyes of people who either do not believe that there are risks associated with vaccines, or who are certain that the pros outweigh the cons.
The arguments that ensue are legendary.
People who believe the earth is flat are up against the most resistance of all. I kind of admire their tenacity.
As for me, my passion project is putting an end to the war on drugs. The war on drugs is just a way of life for most people in my culture, and they haven’t had a set of life experiences that led them to reevaluate their position. Furthermore, some people have experienced trauma and loss pertaining to drugs, so they are likely to fiercely reject the notions that I propose.
Yet this is my passion project for a reason. It’s what I believe in, with all my heart. I have valid reasons, and a need to help other people understand, because I genuinely care about the world we’re in and I want to see it flourish.
I see life and hope in my message, but other people see death and despair.
I can’t expect other people to embrace my message when to them it stinks of death.
Which means, I have a choice.
I can back down, and concede to the persistent ideals and perceptions of others.
Or I can stand my ground, taking the ideals and perceptions of others for granted, being callous to their feelings and visions for how things should be.
When the above two possibilities are seen as the only options, life becomes a frustrating process of swinging between those two poles- stubbornness and concession. Stubbornness until there is no strength left to fight, and then concession in bitter defeat.
That is one of the many roads which leads to depression and hopelessness.
That is why it is so important not to look at this as a choice between standing firm or conceding.
The choice that leads to higher ground above the cycle of depression is to stand firm with sensitivity, receptiveness, and compassion.
Even if your heart harbors the most important message in the world, what good does it serve if you forget how to love?
Why should anyone listen to you, if you refuse to listen back?
If your goal is to trample others with your truth, do not be surprised when they defend themselves or go into hiding.
This is difficult to learn. It may come more naturally to some people, but it’s among my most massive life challenges.
But I’m making progress. I do my best every day, even when my best is terrible. That’s no reason to stop trying.
To those I’ve trampled with my passion at any time in my life, I am deeply sorry. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help make it right.
Also published on Medium.