Everyone has a friend who speaks exactly what’s on their mind. We watch in awe as they release their thoughts (and ours) so effortlessly that it seems like a sixth sense, professing the things we wouldn’t dare utter without reservation. Contrary to popular belief, this carefree lifestyle isn’t as joyous as it seems.
Recently, I’d gotten to a point where I questioned if being assertive was beneficial. Rocking the boat caused people to view me differently and brought opposition from coworkers, family and friends. In the midst of my turmoil, I was reminded of Luvvie Ajayi’s TED talk, “Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable.” Author, speaker and activist, Luvvie Ajayi deems herself a “professional troublemaker” and shares with viewers why discomfort is the key to freedom.
Take heed of 3 life lessons I’ve learned from her talk:
1. Comfort promotes stagnancy
Exploring new alternatives can make us tremble with uncertainty because we don’t know what’s coming next. We aren’t in control of how situations will pan out nor how our messages will be received. However, reaching for our security blankets will result in a paralysis we can’t recover from. While comparing 'speaking her truths against unjust systems' to 'overcoming her fear of skydiving', Luvvie states, “I realized comfort is overrated. Being quiet is comfortable. Keeping things the way they’ve been is comfortable and all comfortable has done is maintain the status quo. So we’ve got to become comfortable with being uncomfortable by speaking these hard truths, when they’re necessary.”
This sentiment speaks to every area in our lives. If we are not called to say a hard truth, it may require 'doing' a hard truth like leaving a career that isn’t challenging. Either way, one step forward towards your purpose is better than three steps backwards in regret.
2. Assertiveness is a priority, not a burden.
It took me a long time to realize that standing up for myself didn’t have to be a grand gesture. Exercising my worth could come in a variety of ways including taking a break for a few minutes if I’m stressed or simply saying no to the things I cannot or do not want to do. But if something major ever presents itself, the responsibility to speak truth to my power still stands regardless of someone else’s opinion.
Unfortunately, society has taught us to succumb to the powers that be and sacrifice our beliefs for the sake of peace, but Luvvie encourages us to relentlessly protest it exclaiming, “In a world that wants us to walk around as representatives of ourselves, being yourself can be a revolutionary act and in a world that wants us to whisper, I choose to yell.” Though I may sound a bit radical, I’m not suggesting that we become anti-everything. I just want us to know our worth and protect it at all costs. If there is anything or anyone that makes you feel less than the gift you are, fight for yourself and others who may feel the same.
3. Every action doesn’t deserve a reaction
I probably have us all pumped up and ready to let loose on everything that’s wrong with this world and while that’s great, I want to offer one more tip. When we feel we’ve been wronged in any form, let’s take a second to think before we respond. We need to take time to contemplate our response and in many cases, if the situation is even worth a response. If we can’t let it pass, Luvvie pleads us to consider three things stating our case:
“1. Did you mean it?
2. Can you defend it?
3. Did you say it with love?
If the answer is yes to all 3, I say it and let the chips fall.”
Being assertive in our everyday doesn’t mean we can’t express ourselves kindly to others.
Toward the end of the talk, Luvvie takes a breath and softly drops a priceless gem,
“Everyone’s well being is community business. If we made that a point we’d understand that, for the times when we need help, we wouldn’t have to look around so hard. If we made sure we were somebody else’s help.”
This is why living and speaking our truths KINDLY is so important. When we have courageous conversations, we pass the torch and allow the next person waiting in the wings to press toward the next mark. Collectively, we can and will win the race.
Watch Luvvie Ajayi at TEDWomen 2017 by clicking the image below!