I wasn’t sure what to blog about today. But something has been bothering me since I went to the mall yesterday, so I think writing about it will help me.
As I went to get in line to check out at a department store, there was an incident of confusion where someone cut the line on accident and went to get rung up before it was her turn. Then I overheard the person they had cut in front of. She stood there angry and mumbling to herself how rude it was…and yet she continued to stand there and be a victim. I pretended not to notice that she went on and on about how people should do this and shouldn’t do that, and where have manners gone, etc. etc. Of course the person to which her anger was directed at was out of earshot and didn’t get the message.
So many people shortchange both themselves and other people when they allow injustice – even little stuff like line cutting. She could have so easily said “excuse me, I was next” but instead she has been taught to believe that she can’t. That instead she has to stand there and take it. And she probably assumed that if she did say something, it would be met with resistance or conflict.
What she doesn’t realize is that she caused her own distress, both by not standing up for herself (external), and by not believing that she had any control (internal). She’s so powerful and she doesn’t know it. Instead she stood there stifling anger, stuffing it down inside and continuing the pattern of helplessness and victimization. She is a victim and she will continue to be until she realizes that she has a voice, and that it’s okay and actually helpful to use her voice – by saying that she was next, she could have made the other person more aware of her surroundings, and she could have been an example of how to say something like that kindly and without awkwardness – a lesson we could all use!
But even more importantly than the act of speaking up is simply knowing that you can. When you know you have a voice and you can use it, you are so calm – you just love that it’s there inside you; you don’t even need to use it all the time. You could even choose to let the other person cut without saying anything because you have better things to focus on than who goes first in line.
I have been this victim. In fact, at one point I wanted to start a movement to bring back manners 🙂 Manners are great, of course, and promoting them is noble, of course. But complaining about people not having manners is, well, bad manners! I think we’re better off understanding that you can’t control other people. And in fact, it’s disrespectful to try. I’ve learned through my codependency recovery that to assume someone else can’t do something is to take power away from them. And when you take power away from someone, they learn to depend on you instead of themselves. I want to influence people – but now I know they have to want to be influenced. I want to respect that, manners or not, adults are adults, too. And they are also expressions of God, therefore they are just as capable of having manners as I am 🙂
I gotta tell you – I am so happy and grateful that I am no longer the victim of circumstance, that I am aware of my personal power, and that I can see the personal power of others.