You know that person, the one who just says whatever is on her mind… whether we want to hear it or not, out comes her blaring message like an uninvited guest. And while that may not always be the best course of communication, sometimes we can secretly admire her gumption to just put it all out there.
Others of us struggle to just get the basics out…whether we want our child to be more compliant and cooperative, or our spouse to make the effort to be more present and really listen to our thoughts, opinions, desires or needs, communication can become one sticky wicket in the relationship landscape.
Why is just saying our peace so dang difficult sometimes? There are myriad factors that play in to either using our voice or staying silent.
The short answer is much has to do with our temperament, our FOO- family of origin- learned behavior and modeling, our past experiences and how we’ve been trained.
Some of us are just naturally chatty. We don’t think all that much before we speak so it is natural to just put out there what we are thinking, feeling or needing. For some people some of the time, this goes well, yet others would do well to perhaps pause even for a few seconds to consider if their message is well crafted and shared at a reasonably good time or place.
If we grew up in a family where sharing feelings was taboo, we are much more likely to learn early on that whatever we are feeling or needing is a thing to suck up and keep buried in the depths of our being. Perhaps when someone did take a risk in your FOO you observed it did not go well for them.
If we have been in relationships where no one really cared to dive deeper past transactional conversations, then we may have simply learned again that sharing at a deeper or more vulnerable level is like forbidden fruit. We just don’t go there…
Many of us have been trained by others’ responses, whether a parent, sibling, teacher or coach that what we think, feel or want is really not relevant to the matters at hand.
However, let’s look at the fall out of this dynamic. Say you are a young child playing a team sport. You become injured and tell your coach. If the coach ignores your words, emotions and pain and instructs you to get back in the game, you may risk not only further injury, but you learn a strong message that day- nobody cares how you feel in that moment.
Is there a time and place to “suck it up”? Well that is for you to decide when and under what circumstances that you may be needing to endure some strong feelings or needs while you ponder a strategy to move forward.
What we do know is when we keep so much inside of us, especially chronically at home and /or at work, when we rarely if ever show up speaking our truth with love and respect we pay a hefty price with our health and wellbeing.
What the mind won’t deal with – what we avoid saying due to fear, lack of modeling, or temperament can hurt us badly in the end. Our body and brain absorb and store all the pain of staying silent.
Seeing people put up with others’ poor choices, addictions, mean behavior etc. because they don’t know what to say, how to say it, or when to say it, is clearly distressing for many people.
In general, staying silent when we ought to speak up is not good for our health or our relationships.
The next time you notice that urge to use your voice, consider what benefit that may have to enhance your most important relationships. Practice speaking your truth – showing up courageously to have an important conversation where you are clear that you matter and the other person matters. Learning to communicate effectively and to use our voice is one of the most important skills we can learn. Practicing showing up using our voice takes courage.
Instead of fearing someone else’s response, worrying we might hurt their feelings, consider instead the benefits of showing up in a genuine way to convey an important message.
Your head, heart and health need you to speak with truth and grace.