“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
~Martin Luther King, Jr.
We all want to fit in. And we’re willing to sacrifice certain things in order to do that. We don’t speak up when we see something that goes against what we believe in for many reasons: we don’t want to call attention to ourselves; we don’t want to get hurt; we don’t want to make a scene; we don’t want to offend the other person…These are all valid reasons. And yet, every time we don’t speak up for whatever reason, what we say is important to us becomes a little less important. And the people who are acting in those ways have every reason to believe that others support them in their action.
Maybe it isn’t that we aren’t speaking up when we see or hear something that offends us, but that we don’t bring up difficult topics because we don’t want to offend others. For instance, many of us know people on the other side of the political spectrum. I have family members and good friends who believe different things than I do. I choose to ignore those areas of difference, and focus on what we have in common and what we enjoy about each other. What matters to me are my relationships with people more than their beliefs. And yet ignoring the issues probably isn’t the healthiest thing for our relationships either. I need to learn how to engage others in conversation about difficult topics without becoming confrontational or defensive. Having a sense of curiosity about what others think is a better approach.
Being silent is easy. My yoga practice reminds me that difficult things make me grow and become better. If I only do the poses I like or find easy, I’m not going to improve in my practice. Instead I become a little sloppier and less focused. To become my best self, on and off the mat, I need to have a sense of curiosity about my weaknesses and find ways to overcome them. I need to prioritize what matters and make it obvious in the way I live my life.