I preach and write a lot about looking at your own flaws and leaving other people alone. Nearly every time I do someone says to me, “But there comes a time when you have to stand up for yourself. You don’t want to be a wimp and let people walk all over you.”
Of course there’s a point to that somewhere. But perhaps the reason I lean so far the other direction is because the easiest thing in the world for me to do is “stand up for myself.” When I’m upset or offended, the first thing I want to do is lash out, verbally, and sometimes even physically. I find it takes far more guts to keep quiet than it does to speak out.
Of course not everyone has my temperament, but for all of us knowing when to speak up and when to remain silent is really tough. I am certain that the times when we most think we have a “right” to speak out are probably the times we need to remain silent and look deeply into ourselves. A lot of our regrets come from speaking out of turn which is ironic because when you think about it, a lot of the times we spoke out of turn are times we were so confident we were completely in line.
It takes a lot of guts to be a “wimp.” Nothing is harder than remaining silent when everything in you wants to defend yourself or lash out against someone. That is why, the older I get, the more often I find myself choosing to remain silent. I have never yet regretted that, but many times I have found myself regretting my choice to speak out and defend myself.
People who are really timid probably need to consciously work on speaking up more often. But those who angrily insist that they have this and that “right” to be heard would probably serve the world much better by allowing us to hear from them less.