When Boundaries are Broken, Speak Up!
I am an introvert by nature. My default is listening and observing more than talking. What I really enjoy observing though, (particularly in films) is when an introverted person like me, speaks up because a line has been crossed. A boundary has been broken. I sense an awakening in me. A liberation of some sorts. A fearlessness and hope rising within me. A voice prompting ‘You can do this too. Stop observing. Speak up and give someone else hope!”.
I recently watched my favourite scene (for the umpteenth time) from Steven Spielberg’s film, The Colour Purple (1985). It is the emotionally charged dinner scene towards the end of the film where Celie Harris, the protagonist finally speaks up. This scene is powerful because of the horrifying abuse that she has been subjected to throughout her life by her father and her callous husband. So many boundaries have been crossed. So many values compromised. When she speaks, she gives hope to one of her female companions, Sofia who has also experienced unjust treatment. Seeing the once meek Celie speak up, gives Sofia the courage to tell her story of oppression and injustice and when she finishes her story, she is able to relax, smile and eat. Something in Celie had come alive. Celie was manifesting the behaviour of a liberated human being who would begin to consciously exercise her boundaries and in so doing was also liberating those around her.
I was brought up to be polite and to be always agreeable. As I grew, I had a fear that if I spoke up and communicated my boundaries, something terrible would happen. I would hurt people’s feelings and would probably lose close friends. Whenever I want to default to silent observation mode, I think of this dinner scene and I think of the liberating effect speaking up will have for me and for others who might be observing. Speaking up and making people aware of your boundaries does far better good than harm.
Here are five reasons to speak up when boundaries have been broken:
- It instils hope in those observing and empowers them to do the same.
- It has a ripple effect in that you are speaking up for others who struggle to find a voice to be heard.
- It creates a safe and transparent environment.
- It prepares you to be a better ally for others.
- It prepares you to confidently speak up on bigger issues in the future.