If you’ve been following my blog, you may have noticed a bit of a theme. Two weeks ago, I wrote about my penchant for asking “why” and how this sometimes leads me to (respectfully) challenge authority – or at least the status quo. Last week, I took this theme a bit further, discussing civil disobedience, which takes “challenging authority” and kicks it up a notch.

Upon reflection, I have come to understand this trait as an integral part of who I am and therefore, now regard it as a blessing. As I mentioned in the “Why” blog, it took me a while to fully embrace this aspect of myself, since questioning the status quo is often frowned upon.

Looking back, I can still recall certain defining moments…situations involving, at the time, great risk – the risk of being ostracized, outcast, or simply thought a fool. At that split second in time, I had a choice to make. Would I stand up for what was true and right, or would I cave and go along? Would I speak up for the underdog or would I sit in complicit silence?

In this blog, I thought I’d share one of those moments with you. At the time, it seemed quite benign. And to you, it may still seem rather insignificant. But, as I’ve thought about it over the years, I’ve come to understand that it was the first time, as an adult, that I stood up for my Truth.

As a freshman at UNC Chapel Hill, I reveled in my newfound freedom…a bit too much, as it turns out. I was an education major. My first college-level science class kicked my butt. On the other hand, I was captivated by my first Psychology class! As you can probably guess, I changed my major. Who cares that there are no jobs for Psyc majors….it was fun!

As a requirement of Psyc 101, students had sign up as guinea pigs in the experiments of the upperclassmen.

“Don’t worry!” they said. “All experiments have to be approved by the Institutional Review Board (the university’s ethics committee).”

Reassured, I signed up for my first experiment. I was asked to sit in a chair at the end of a row of other people. Although I didn’t know it at the time, the “others” were confederates – they were “in” on the experiment. I was the only guinea pig.

We were asked to look at a three (different) colored circles projected on a screen in front of us. Then, we were asked to say, out loud, whether the color of the circle in the middle was closer in color to the one on the left or the right. While viewing the first slide, we each, in turn, voiced our opinion. I was last, of course. Oddly, each person before me verbalized the opposite of what I was thinking.

“Blue”

“Blue”

“Blue”

Hmmm…my turn. At this point, I’m thinking that I must not be able to see clearly, because the middle circle really looks more green.

“Blue,” I said.

The next slide was presented, and the same thing happened. Somewhere around slide three, I realized that a) my eyesight is 20-20 and b) I can’t be wrong this many times in a row. So, I told the truth (as I saw it).

“Purple”

“Purple”

“Purple”

“Red,” I said.

For the rest of the experiment, I continued to appear “wrong.” When it was all over, I was debriefed, a requirement of psychological experiments. The purpose was, they said, to see if I would speak my truth, in spite of evidence to the contrary. Was I brave enough to withstand the implied societal pressure?

Apparently, I was.

To me, this scenario beautifully illustrates the “inner rebel” theme of my life. Further, it’s why I started this blog – to help others learn to live, speak, and act from a place of Love, rather than Fear.

This is not to imply that I am never afraid. I’m often afraid. But, as Elizabeth Gilbert describes, in her book Big Magic, if Fear wants to come along, it has to sit in the back seat – it’s not allowed to drive the bus!

As you go through your week, push Fear out of the driver’s seat. Put it in the trunk…kick it to the curb. Whatever it takes! Just don’t let it steer your life!

Written by : drallisonbrown

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10 Comments

  1. Angela Noel August 24, 2017 at 7:10 pm - Reply

    That’s truly a fascinating experiment and an invitation into an insight about yourself that you obviously took. I wonder what they found overall?
    I had a recent invitation to reflect on something similar. Namely, would I allow suspicion and fear to override my instinct to trust. I watched myself succumb, heart racing, to feelings of apprehension that really had no logical basis. But because someone I trusted had misgivings about the situation I suddenly felt as if I couldn’t trust myself. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe these people didn’t have bad intent and I’m being taken advantage of?
    When it was all said and done, logic returned. My heart returned to its normal rhythm. But now I had this moment to ponder. Is this how riots start? Or revolutions? Or internet shaming? Is all that due to otherwise reasonsable people caught up in a groundswell of collective fear?
    Ugh. In that moment, I failed to stick to my truth. But, I like to think I know something new now. The question is, what will I do with that knowledge? I’m still working on figuring that out.

    • drallisonbrown August 24, 2017 at 7:59 pm - Reply

      Thanks for sharing, Angela! It seems like a daily challenge to continue to live authentically and not be influenced by the people and events that surround us. And yes, I do believe people get caught up in “collective fear.” I can’t watch the news anymore, because that’s all it is – drumming up fear about things that are completely unreasonable.

  2. Ritu Bhathal October 14, 2017 at 8:21 am - Reply

    Look at you Allison being a rebel! Good on you!

  3. Brenda October 14, 2017 at 10:10 am - Reply

    Just finished reading Big Magic and yes to Fear not driving the bus. Like the part about acknowledging it and moving past it. That it is okay to be afraid just not let it dictate what you want to do/how to live. Always enjoy your blog

    • drallisonbrown October 14, 2017 at 10:54 am - Reply

      Thanks so much for the kind words! Wasn’t that just the best book ever? You are right, our feelings and emotions are meant to inform us. Then it is up to us to do something with them, whether it is embrace them or move past them, endure them or learn from them.

  4. Lutheranliar October 14, 2017 at 3:45 pm - Reply

    You are such a rebellious cutie! And I absolutely adore the photo of the guinea pig (!)

  5. Mind Over Meta October 14, 2017 at 4:01 pm - Reply

    I find it truly inspiring when people can go against the majority and go with what they think is right. It’s a huge pressure to conform to what other people are saying/doing so it’s great that you can stand by what is true to you. I really need to put that Elizabeth Gilbert book on my Amazon list!

    • drallisonbrown October 14, 2017 at 4:32 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Jo! Yes, that is such a great book! I refer to it often, because truly, Gilbert helped me understand how and why my writing was so important (Divinely inspired). Her book inspired me to get going and start writing for real! You are right – it is very difficult to stand up and be a lone voice. It is something I have to practice often – it doesn’t seem to get easier….By the way, keep up the good work! Your blog covers some wonderful and critically important topics!

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