“Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising, which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To Map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Many times we’re faced with situations that can cause us to consider compromising our values. Maybe your friends or family members are partaking in things you don’t approve of.Maybe you have been offered a job with a company you don’t respect…but you really need the job. Maybe your beliefs are in the minority…but you don’t want to become an outcast as a result. When confronted with these situations, it is sometimes difficult to listen to your “gut” or stand your ground.
Unfortunately, I’ve found that the more we compromise our values, the more of a negative impact it has on our mental wellbeing. And, the more we compromise our values, the more we continue to do so. I guess you could say it becomes an insidious cycle. On the other hand, when we stand up for what we believe in, the benefits can have a tremendously positive impact. Below are reasons to listen to that inner voice telling you what you should do:
- You’ll Build Self-Confidence: When others dictate what we should think, feel and do, it eats away at our self-confidence. We begin to distrust our own instincts and lose the ability to decipher what we really believe versus what everyone wants us to believe. Although it may be difficult at first, the more we stand-up for ourselves, the more we build our self-confidence. It takes guts to express an unpopular viewpoint…it takes guts to say no when it is so much easier to say yes…and it takes guts to risk losing a job, friends or opportunities because someone won’t like our opinion. However, the more you tap into your “guts,” the easier it gets, and the more confident you’ll become.
- You’ll Develop Self Worth: If we bow to others and their opinions, and do things their way, whether right or not, we start to lose our own identity and start to forget what it is we stand for. Also, the less you allow yourself to think freely and develop your own belief system, the more you become a follower without your own direction. On the other hand, the more authentic you are to your needs and viewpoints, the more you will understand your sense of self.
- You’ll Develop Self-Respect: Would you respect someone who went against their own values because it was convenient or because it was more popular? Probably not. And, with good reason! Wishy washiness is far from admirable, or for that matter, respectable. Yet, if you encounter someone with a less popular opinion who stands their ground (assuming the opinion or belief is founded in ethical principles), you would most likely have great respect for them. Same goes for the way you perceive yourself. The more you stand up for your beliefs, the more self-respect you will develop. If you continually give in to what others want and compromise your own values in the process, you are going to lose respect for yourself, often without even realizing it.
- You’ll Build Integrity: In a time when so many people are dishonest, do things to better themselves at the expense of others, and do what feels good in the moment without thinking about the consequences, integrity is a characteristic that is especially unique. Doing the right thing or standing up for your beliefs may not be easy, but when you do, you know that you’ll be able to look yourself in the mirror and feel good about yourself. You’ll know that you did the right thing and that you had integrity.
- You’ll Learn Valuable Leadership Skills: As much as we like to believe that a hero (preferably a really handsome one on a white horse….sound familiar?!?) will swoop-in to defend our honor, it is extremely rare. Like as in, almost never happens, rare. There are two things to consider here: First, if YOU don’t stand up for yourself or your beliefs, then how can you expect others to? And second, the person who you should ALWAYS be able to count on to stand up for you – no matter what – is you. Most importantly the more you stand-up for your values, the less you will rely on others to validate them. It’s described best in the book Everyone Leads “Leadership requires a strong inner core. It is important for a leader to have a clear sense of the purpose and values that drive his or her decisions and actions.”
The truth is we wouldn’t be human if we didn’t make mistakes or give into what was easier every now and then, but learning from those mistakes and standing for what we believe in the vast majority of time is what is most important. How about you? Do you find this easy? Difficult? Do you avoid it?
“Character is doing the right thing even when it costs more than you want to pay.” ~Michael Josephson