I’m a quiet, highly sensitive and introverted person. I watch people and I can’t help but analyze situations. I want the world to be a better place and I hold deep convictions. Most of the time, I keep things to myself. But lately I’ve been meditating on the idiom ‘silence is complacency.’
Martin Luther King Jr. says, “We will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”
I have decided to be silent no more and the biggest reach I can make is on social media. So I have been expressing myself on Facebook. It’s interesting how powerful the voice of social media can be and how threatened others are with opinions other than their own. Finding my voice has had a cost … I have been personally bullied and professionally threatened. A friend told me it just isn’t worth it and my husband asked why I was doing this since it won’t change anyone’s mind. I answered, “I’m not out to change the minds of others but to express my own.”
But speaking out has a price … at least for my highly sensitive nature. After some particularly brutal comments a few days back, I started to feel panic. My stress response was triggered. At first it was an out-of-body type of feeling, then I felt nauseous (like my stomach dropped out). I went to walk around and could barely stand, I was actually weak in my knees and felt faint. It was hard to breathe and my entire body tightened up. I hate this twisted off-balanced feeling. I began to feel self-doubt and and self-blame “why did I stick my neck out” and “why bother sharing my beliefs, this isn’t worth it.” I wanted to crawl into a hole. But then another feeling kicked in … ANGER.
And after anger, came action. I knew all my systems were from sympathetic vagus nerve activation and so I began to practice everything I teach to calm the vagus nerve. I focused on diaphragmatic breathing and I started tapping (emotional freedom technique). I changed my self-talk saying inwardly “I have the right to my opinion,” “I have the right to share my view with others,” “I believe I can help others with my perspective,” “I believe something good can eventually come out of speaking up.”
Expressing an opinion different than mine is one thing but to attack is another. There were some people, who I didn’t even know, that were aggressive on my personal Facebook page and I blocked them. I chose to set that boundary. Then I journaled privately about what was happening and how I felt about feeling threatened. I applied some calming essential oils and then I prayed for everyone.
I wish I could say that I felt normal afterwards but it wasn’t quite that easy. I have had sleepless nights, I’m struggling with wanting to isolate, I have lost work time because it’s hard to focus, I feel a flare of the old chronic pain symptoms and my immune system is struggling to fight off old sinus problems.
I took time off work to simply recover and to decompress with quiet play … I read, watched movies, and walked out in nature. I’m practicing forgiveness instead of blame, and I’m mindful that I just experienced a personal reminder of how deeply and profoundly stress impacts our human person. Will I stop speaking out? Is the cost too large? All I have to do is re-read Martin Luther King Jr.s quotes and recall that Edmund Burke said “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men (and women) to do nothing” and I have my answer.