Many of us have grown up in guilt and fear, always eager to please, while speaking only when we are spoken to. Our parents thought it was the right way to discipline children, but later in life, this attitude doesn’t serve us right for obvious reasons.
If children are now taught to voice their opinion, even if we have to listen to their parents, guardians, monitors or other adults for their own safety and well-being, why do we, as adults, shy away from speaking our mind?
Every person has the right to have an opinion. Every person has the right to voice it. In relationships, in the workplace or any other community, it is good practice to allow each member the opportunity to speak his or her mind. This is what enables the couple, team or group to brainstorm ideas, find solutions and move forward.
There is a problem when:
- you do not speak because you are afraid of the consequences
- you change your opinion to please someone you are afraid of
- you voice your opinion only to see it being shot down, time after time
- you don’t bother voicing your opinion because it won’t count anyway
Other than the fact that there is no room for progress in these situations, the issue that concerns me the most is the state of mind of the person who is experiencing one or more of these on a regular basis.
In fact, being faced with such situations causes internal conflict. Repeatedly facing these situations causes stress to various degrees. Constant complaining to friends, agitation, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure are some of the symptoms that reflect the internal conflict. Patching the symptoms will not help. You must work on the source.
I mention journal writing in a lot of my posts. I believe this habit is most beneficial in identifying the source of problems that cause internal conflicts and signs of stress. Nothing can be done while in denial. Writing about your discontent can help you clarify the true nature of your problem. Once it is identified, it is important to write about the occurences in detail. The whole picture might show a different view, with a better understanding of dynamics, underlying motivations or new opportunities for you. You will be able to identify frequency of occurrences and document them in preparation of next steps. This analysis is way to empower yourself before taking action.
Another step in preparation is boosting your self-esteem. If you do not love yourself, your message to others is that you are not worthy. This is a signal saying: “You can step all over me”. Your self-confidence is of primary importance as it will be felt by everyone around you. You deserve love and respect, no less. Believe it.
Finally, stepping up and speaking your mind is the shift in behaviour that will reverse the conflict. With self-confidence, you can voice your opinion. If you are speaking with respect for all those around you, if you believe in what you are saying and better yet you have proof or valid explanations, if you are not cheating or lying, if you are not causing harm to anyone, why would you be afraid to talk? Talk with confidence, with your head up. You will leave others speechless.
In speaking your mind, you must always remain true to yourself, respectful yet assertive. In the workplace, a level of professionalism is required. This is the only way you will also gain respect from others.
Sometimes, when there is no way to reconcile the situation, distancing yourself is a choice you will have to make. Leaving the relationship, the job or the group may become eminent when there is lack of respect and no agreement to work out differences. As difficult as this may be, the outcome is much better than living a life of hell torn by internal conflicts.
No matter what you do, taking care of these internal conflicts from the source can only make you stronger, wiser and healthier! Don’t be afraid to speak your mind!