If you’re like me, you’ve probably heard this phrase many times in your life. I certainly have.
When I was younger (much younger), I had no idea what it really meant. To be told to “take the high road” when you are a teen and pissed at your sister or in your first corporate job and the target of a yelling colleague felt frustrating. To me, at the time, it simply meant that my feelings, position or opinion didn’t matter. Quite frankly…It just made me madder.
As I got older, I realized that it was something that we are taught as a value from a religion or family perspective. Or at least that was how I experienced it. It was wrapped in the encouragement to “love your brother (or sister)“ “turn the other cheek” and/or “be the bigger person.” While I understood it, this only made me feel a little bit better. And, it wasn’t always a compelling reason to ensure that I took that higher path.
Now, at 50, I think I’ve got it. I had no idea how fundamentally important it is.
This article about strengthening you from the inside out. That is why you should Take the High Road. Every time.
Yeah, yeah. I can hear you saying to yourself that you do this. I know it’s an overused phrase that we’ve all gotten used to hearing. But do we really know what it means? Do we really live this? Why should we?
Lets start with the easiest question: why should we?
I’m not going to answer this by quoting a sacred text or by saying your (or my) religion tells us to be this way. These, on the surface, are the social and religious reasons why we should. I’d like to mention the more selfish reason. The more fundamental reason. The reason that affects us directly.
First, I need to give you some scientific facts. Our bodies are made up of energy. Ok, smirk. However, it’s true – ask any physicist. We are energetic beings. As such, our actions and our thoughts can impact our energetic strength. Smirk again…but this is true.
For example, telling the truth strengthens you, telling a lie weakens you. There is a simple, kinesiology arm test that you can do right now to prove this. You need a friend. I know you have one. Go get them.
Have your friend hold their arm straight out as strong as they can and resist you. Now, try to push it down. You are testing how much force you need to push it down when they are in a neutral state. Next, have the friend do the same thing and say what they love to eat - i.e. I love pizza! Try pushing their arm down while they are saying this. Because this is true, their arm strength will be as strong or stronger than when they were neutral. Now, have your friend say “I love to eat dirt” (just make sure they don’t!) and try pushing the arm down while they say it. Easier. Much easier. Why? Because truth makes us strong and lies make us weak. (Good test to try on your kids to see who really started the argument.)
I learned this fact from Dr. David Hawkins, author of Power vs. Force, who undertook a 20+ year study that shows lies weaken us, truth strengthens us. And, he also proved that certain emotional qualities and attitudes not only strengthened us but are also attractors to others causing them to unite with us and support our cause. Qualities like Love rank very high as an “attractor” while qualities like Jealousy, Hatred and Shame rank very low.
Ok, back to our topic. So, it’s not just lies that weaken us, it’s any action that is not honorable. What could this look like? Getting into a power argument or squirmish with that person at work? Carrying a grudge. Fudging a little about what you did or didn’t do.
How about gossiping? Making fun of someone behind their back? Undermining your boss just a little bit. Taking credit (no matter how small) for someone else’s work. Making a snarky comment about someone. Snarkiness in general.
We do these small acts day in and day out. We often do them without even thinking about them. And, each day we rob ourselves of our own power by small cuts. Then one day we don’t understand why we feel weak or unsure inside. We have created our own undoing.
We can change it.
This week I challenge you to Take The High Road. On Everything. If you made a mistake – even a really small one – own it. Own it and correct it. Now that’s an act of strength. Decline from gossiping. Give credit for good work to the colleague that contributed it. Do what your boss asks you to do and do it with gratitude and a smile. Why? Because they are paying you to be there. Let that be enough.
If you find yourself engaging in an act that is on the “low road”, here’s what to do. Take a break the moment you realize it and silently send the other person some caring energy. Do it. Then send yourself some forgiveness and commit to acting differently.
True power is based in love, compassion, honesty and integrity. When you operate in this true base of power, you get stronger inside and people naturally want to align with you. Just look at the exemplary example of someone who lived this - Dr. Martin Luther King. Dr. King (like Gandhi and Nelson Mandela) Took The High Road and opposing forces could not defeat the values, efforts and change that he stood for. With his life and his walk on the High Road, he changed the world.
This is true power. Why not stand in yours?