It is so easy to get into a cycle of silence. Most people, at one time or another, find themselves keeping quiet when they are faced with frustration or hurt. There are a few people out there who seem to have so much courage that they always speak what is on their minds, and if you are one of them then I applaud you and encourage you to teach others. If not however, and the majority of us don’t fit into that category, we can sometimes find ourselves mulling over the “I should have said” or “ I really want to say” in our minds and never actually letting those thoughts breathe life. Sometimes we keep our mouths shut out of love or respect for another person and usually those moments pass without causing us pain. When we do run into the ongoing battle in our heads it is often in a situation when we are not standing up for ourselves.
Even with the best intention of not causing conflict or frustrating someone else, the act of not stating our feelings and standing up for ourselves can cause us to carry around draining energy and pain. While many of us would easily stand up to defend another, we can play situations personal to us over and over again in our minds trying to develop enough courage to just say what made us angry, frustrated or hurt. It may be a spouse, a boss, a sibling or a close friend that hurt you but usually it all feels the same. Sometimes we recognize it and torture ourselves with our self-disappointment and other times we blame the other person and resent what they did. In both cases, we allow a divide to grow in the relationship.
While I do not recommend going around and yelling or hurting others, it is important that we develop enough courage and skill to gracefully and lovingly stand up for ourselves. Keeping someone unaware of the impact of their actions has no benefit to you or them. Emotions left unaddressed always leaves lingering energy that can build up over time and cause unnecessary pain in your life.
If you are someone who has something they need to say to someone and just can’t find the courage, try these steps:
- Try to separate yourself from the emotion in the situation and look at it from a neutral position. If we address things through purely through our emotions we can sometimes speak more hurtfully than necessary. Think about if roles were reversed, how would you want this message to be delivered to you?
- Develop your message thoughtfully with clearly explaining the impact they had but doing so from a loving intent. Talk through it, write it out and replay it until you feel like you are presenting yourself well and keeping hurtful language out of it (sometimes that last part means you will have many revisions J).
- Practice with someone. It could be a friend, family or a spouse but it is important that it is someone who will help from a non-judgmental point of view. Often those closest to us will not be able to easily do this because they want to defend and protect us. This can fuel our own anger and cause a larger divide in the relationship we are trying to mend.
- Go for it! If you are truly approaching the situation with both self-love and love for the other person, your intent will be understood and respected. If it is not, it may not be a healthy relationship for you to keep in your life.
As with most things, practice makes perfect and eventually you will be much better at addressing things in the moment. Develop a routine of speaking up and standing up for yourself. Not only will you feel better, but your relationships will grow and strengthen because of it.