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It's always possible to take a stand against disrespect

Q: On my bus I sit with my friend who is very opinionated. There's another girl on the bus that my friend really doesn't like.  My friend is not the type of person to keep things to herself and she often comments about the girl or wrinkles her nose when the girl is not looking. I don't like the girl either but I feel bad about how my friend treats her. I often nod my head in agreement to my friend’s comments not because I want to hurt the other girl but because I want my friend to like me. I call her my friend but we aren't as close as I wish we were. I find myself trying to fit in with her.  What should I say next time my friend says a comment about that girl?  I want to stop talking about her in negative ways.

A: Thank you for your openness. I believe that the circumstance you are describing is one that we can all relate to. It’s so easy to get caught up with disrespectful behaviour, especially when we are trying to 'fit in' and be liked. It’s interesting how people will disrespect someone, or go along with disrespectful behaviour, in order to gain respect from someone else. It’s easy to say that you will stand up against disrespect but to actually do it, takes a lot of courage and commitment.

When I look back on times that I didn't speak up against disrespect I realize that:

  • I worried about what my friends would think of me if I said something.
  • I wanted to be liked and to fit in.
  • It seemed easier to go along with it.

 Taking an action that you think may cause you to be left out, to be made fun of or to be embarrassed by is something we all try to avoid.
Here’s a question you may want to ask yourself:

‘Am I being true to myself by choosing not to say or do anything about the disrespectful behaviour?’

Since you messaged me about your upset around this circumstance I would say the answer is ‘No, you are not being true to who you believe you are.’
I can always tell when I’m not being true to myself when the little nagging voice inside my head is saying, ‘Why did you do that? Why didn’t you say something?’ causing me to feel guilt and regret for my actions.

In order to help you make a choice that will allow you to stay true to who you are it‘s important to think about what you want your END RESULT to be for you.

For example:

#1 - End Result - to always try to be liked by everyone at all costs
#2 - End Result - to be a respectful person to myself and others

Picture two people in the same circumstance that you have shared with me. One person has End Result #1 and the other has End Result #2. Do you think that they would make the same choice even though they are in the same circumstance? No, their choices would be very different!

The person with End Result #1 would choose not take a stand:

  • They would be so worried about fitting in and being liked.
  • They wouldn't have the courage to step out on their own and be true to themselves. It would be way too scary.

The person with End Result #2 would choose to take a stand by:

  • Sharing with their friend why they don't enjoy talking about someone else.
  • Deciding there are more important things to talk about and change the conversation to another topic.
  • Sitting with someone else on the bus instead of that friend.

It’s not always easy to take a stand, especially when you know that you may not have the support that you want. But it’s always possible to stand up for what you believe. Taking a stand for RESPECT doesn't have to be an extraordinary act. It could be something as simple as choosing not to talk about people in a disrespectful way and choosing not to get involved in conversations that are disrespectful to others.

Take a Stand for the type of person you want to be. Decide what you want your End Result to be for you. This will give you the focus and direction that you need in order to take life One Good Choice at a Time!!

Until next time...

This has been 'my voice' but I respect that this is your life, this is 'your choice'

P.S. If you are faced with a circumstance where you need help, one of the best UPower choices you can make is to Reach Out to your parents/adults, teachers, principals, counsellors, friends or to get the support you deserve. Keep reaching out until someone listens.