Here in California, we celebrate Rosa Parks Day on the anniversary of her birth, February 4. A seamstress by trade, she was also the secretary for the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP. So, while she is best known for her refusal to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus in 1955, her beliefs and convictions were always an important part of her life. She committed her life to civil rights, having received many honors for her efforts, until her death in 2005 at the age of 92. A bronze bust of her now sits prominently in the Oval Office, President Biden’s recognition of her efforts in the Civil Rights Movement.
Rosa Parks had the courage to stand up for herself and her beliefs, during a time when there was danger in doing so. Oftentimes, that is not the case today. Many of us are on a fast track to “success,” putting aside what we believe in the most, for a variety of reasons. We may shy away from confrontations or fear loss of business if we speak out.
Fortunately, it’s not too hard to learn how to really stand up and say “this is what I believe in and I’m going to stand by it to the end.” But before you can do that, you need to know WHAT you believe in.
Let’s focus first on answering the following questions to help you along the path to identifying and eliminating beliefs that are holding you back:
- What are the most challenging situations in my life? If I could overcome these challenges, which one would have the biggest impact on my life?
- With reference to this challenging situation, what beliefs are keeping me stuck?
- Are these beliefs true? How can I be certain that they’re true?
- Where did I get these beliefs? Is that person or source an expert?
- How would my life change if I eliminated these beliefs?
And now, the following questions will help you identify the beliefs you hold to move you forward:
- What is a positive belief that I hold that serves me better?
- What evidence supports this belief?
- What is it that really motivates me?
- Where does my drive come from?
- What are my core values? What is most important to me?
Now that you have the answers, you should be able to say what your highest held beliefs are, those that you will stand by in the face of adversity. Examples include compassion, family, human rights, animal rights, you get the idea.
So, what does it mean to stand up for your beliefs? It might mean making sacrifices, just to stay true to yourself. Whatever it means to you, here are some ideas on how to stand up for your beliefs:
- Stand by them no matter what
- Be willing to make sacrifices
- Write them down after you identify them
- Figure out ways to make them work in your everyday life
- Line up your goals with your beliefs
- Don’t let others walk all over you and your beliefs
- Love yourself for the way you are
- Never doubt yourself and your abilities
When you stand up for what you believe in, you are your own person and you get to be a full expression of yourself. If someone close to you cannot respect your free will, then maybe they are not worth being close to. In today’s turbulent world, it is up to each of us to take a stand, speak up for others, speak up for kindness and goodness.
We must stand united in creating a world filled with acceptance, love, kindness and respect for differences so that we leave a legacy that our children and grandchildren will be proud of and most importantly that we lead a life that we can feel proud of for ourselves too. We must live the legacy of Rosa Parks.