Let NO ONE Take You for a Weakling, a Fool or a Fraud
It’s very tempting not to engage with those who attempt to label you as less than what you truly are. After all, sidestepping conflict often seems less painful. When people question your character or your courage, why not just ignore them? When people try to swindle you, why not simply move on, without taking any action?
Even if you have to take it on the chin, sometimes, isn’t it better to minimize your losses, rather than getting into a beef?
The answer is that there is always a price to pay for silence when others bully you or deceive you. And one of the costs is always that you “see” yourself backing down or “hear” yourself staying silent or “watch” yourself deciding it is simpler to make believe you haven’t been offended or injured or disappointed.
There are better lessons to teach yourself—namely, that you will always derive power from withstanding the pain of confronting those who seek to harm you.
As Gandhi said, “Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth.” You should stand with it and let others know you always will. The alternative is letting others know you’ll accept lies or half-truths. And half-truths can be even more toxic, because they sometimes hide reality better. Take it from the late author and philosopher Ayn Rand:
The man who refuses to judge, who neither agrees nor disagrees, who declares that there are no absolutes and believes that he escapes responsibility, is the man responsible for all the blood that is now spilled in the world. Reality is an absolute, existence is an absolute, a speck of dust is an absolute and so is a human life. Whether you live or die is an absolute. Whether you have a piece of bread or not, is an absolute. Whether you eat your bread or see it vanish into a looter’s stomach, is an absolute.
There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil. The man who is wrong still retains some respect for truth, if only by accepting the responsibility of choice. But the man in the middle is the knave who blanks out the truth in order to pretend that no choice or values exist, who is willing to sit out the course of any battle, willing to cash in on the blood of the innocent or to crawl on his belly to the guilty, who dispenses justice by condemning both the robber and the robbed to jail, who solves conflicts by ordering the thinker and the fool to meet each other halfway. In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win. In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit. In that transfusion of blood which drains the good to feed the evil, the compromise is the transmitting rubber tube.
If you don’t have an opinion on an issue or you don’t feel strongly about what is due you in a deal or for a salary or in a relationship, that’s fine. You won’t want to fabricate positions or feelings. But when you do know, in your gut, what you deserve or what you’re due or what’s right and what’s wrong, don’t pull punches or mince words.
Don’t forget, you’re listening to yourself, every time you speak to others. And if you don’t stand up for who you are and what you believe in and the fact that you’re a worthwhile individual to be respected, then somewhere deep in your soul you’re going to get that message, too. It’s when you refuse to be taken for a weakling, fool or fraud, that you strengthen your core self. You’ll feel it and so will everyone else.
Dr. Keith Ablow