Someone recently asked me “How do you find the strength and confidence to trust what your gut is telling you…how do you decide what is the “right” thing to do”? It is a complicated question because what is “right” for me, may not be for you, but one thing that I am absolutely certain is that no matter what, you must always be honest and honorable in your approach to speaking up, and even more, standing up, for what you believe in. It isn’t easy; actually, it’s very hard to do. Sometimes you can feel alone out there on that ledge, and sometimes, you may even lose someone that you thought was a friend. But your real friends, who know and love you, will hopefully trust that you are doing what you need to do, whether they agree with you or not. Be aware that there are risks involved in speaking your truth, and the consequences may not always be the end result of what you intended. In fact, it takes a lot of courage to be willing to risk losing something, or someone, by standing up for your beliefs.
Here’s a fun fact that you should keep in mind before you decide that you need to share your truth with others… take it from someone who knows all about this…make sure that they/he/she is open to hearing it. There is nothing worse than being vulnerable and putting your heart out there, and getting “things” off your chest, than finding out that your truth is not welcome, and is not something that they care about, or want to know. Then you just end up feeling like a fool, and it’s very hard to move on from there with hurt feelings, and resentment. To avoid this awkward scenario, I suggest finding out if the receiver of the information is open to having “the talk”. You can say something like this: “Can I be honest with you?” Simple as that; by asking the question, allows him/her to actively give permission to start the conversation. Or not.
Integrity means taking the path that may not be easy, or popular, but it is always about doing the right thing. At the end of the day, the choices that we make help define us; they become our values and our purpose; they create our reputation, or what we are known for by others. We must live with our choices, right or wrong. It is only through reflection where we see what we could have/should have done differently. We all make mistakes and bad choices; I know I have made many in my life. I have learned a lot about myself through my failures, but the most difficult thing is to be able to pick yourself up, move on, and try again the next day.
If we have ever chatted about how unfair things seem to be, or how mean or hurtful some people are, you know that I will always sit quietly and listen, and then state the obvious: we have no control over what others do or say, only how we respond to it/them. How we respond speaks volumes. As Michelle Obama said at the 2016 DNC, “When they go low, we go high”. Respect goes both ways, and people will treat you how you allow. So to answer the question “how do you find the strength and confidence to follow your instincts and do the right thing“: truth is a superpower that can help you to know what is the right thing to do. You must always trust your gut; when something doesn’t feel right, it usually isn’t. And when someone shows you who they are, by their words and actions, believe them. If you are speaking your truth for the right reasons, and are advocating for yourself or others…then you must “speak the truth even if your voice shakes” (author unknown).