How many times have you wanted to say something and just haven’t? A great idea you had at work, a frustration with your mother in law, words of anger at someone who treated you badly? You open your mouth to speak and nothing comes out.
More than once I am guessing. Correct?
And how does it make you feel? Not so good, right?
There are 405,358 reasons to speak up. Here are 5 of them.
My latest: 5 Reasons to Speak Up – Even if it’s All You Can Do to Whisper.
#1 – Spoken words prompt action.
If your words are in your head, not spoken, they will stay there, out of the light, ignored and irrelevant. Wasted.
Letting your thoughts out into the world can and will prompt action.
I had a client who was talking to her boss about a Huffington Post blog that the company managed. My client remarked that she didn’t know about the blog and her boss said that it had been neglected and was not in use.
My client immediately thought “I want to do it.” And then she sat up and she said “I will do it.”
She now writes weekly for the Huffington Post.
Not too shabby for letting a few words out of her head, eh?
#2 – Words stuck in your head can fester.
For me, unspoken words don’t just sit quietly in my head. They take on a life of their own, playing themselves over and over, sometimes shifting in size and shape, forming and reforming into something that can be almost monstrous. And that monster causes me a lot of pain.
My ex-husband has an incredibly frustrating habit of not returning my emails. For 5 years I have been trying to get him to return my emails and he just can’t, or won’t, do it.
For a long while I didn’t speak up about it. I would patiently wait a few days, hoping for the best. And then I would start thinking about it, wondering what he was so busy doing that he couldn’t get back to me.
And then I would start obsessing about it, wondering why he had so little respect for me that he wouldn’t take a few minutes to return my emails. The thoughts in my head were spinning in a truly ugly, self-destructive way.
I would email him again, angry and accusing. And guess what. He still wouldn’t return my emails.
So now, when I email him, I ask him to respond in a certain window of time. More often than not he obliges and on we go.
Asking for what I needed from him helped keep those festering words from destroying my mental wellness and, ultimately, our relationship.
#3 – Words can keep disagreements from spinning out of control.
One of saddest side effects of not speaking up is the pain that can happen because of disagreements. Disagreements that can happen just because of words that are not spoken.
Think about the last time you and your partner fought. You were standing in the kitchen, having a conversation about something inconsequential, and then something came up that upset one or both of you. Before you knew it you were yelling at each other and someone stormed out of the room.
That night your partner slept on the sofa and you didn’t sleep at all. Breakfast the next day was a nightmare and you couldn’t concentrate all day at work. Not good.
Imagine another scenario. You and your partner, in the kitchen, something comes up and you start yelling. Imagine if, instead of storming out of the room, you stand your ground and continue to talk.
Imagine if, because you actually had the conversation that needed to be had and you worked through your differences, the argument was settled and finished for good, and you were able to then headed upstairs for a little “House of Cards” before bed.
Both of you slept like babies because the words have been said and the issue settled.
Which one sounds better to you?
#4 – Speaking out helps build your self-esteem.
There is nothing better than speaking up about something that you think is important to speak up about. Not only does it create action, keep things from festering and stop disagreements in their tracks but it also makes you see the power that you have with your words.
A client of mine was in a situation where there were 4 tickets to her daughter’s graduation. Three would be used for her son and her ex-husband and herself. The fourth was up for grabs.
Historically, my client would have wanted to keep the peace and given the ticket to her husband’s new wife. But, really, she just didn’t want to do that so she decided to speak up. She told her daughter that she didn’t want the ticket to just go right to her dad’s husband but that they talk about to whom it might go. Her daughter said “I tell you what, I will just bring my friend Nina” and the matter settled.
My client not only felt great about speaking up and advocating for herself but she also could relax into the knowledge that she would be able to fully enjoy her daughter’s big day without the self recrimination created because of words that she hadn’t spoken.
#5 – How else can you change the world?
Really, if people didn’t speak up how would we be able to change the world?
All it takes is one idea. Big or little. And the effects can be far reaching. Of course you can tell yourself that your one little idea won’t make a difference but it can!
A client had a college-aged son who was drinking too much. She didn’t know what to do. She talked to him and talked to him, to no avail. And then she had an idea. “Give him the dog.” She knew her son loved that dog and she knew that the responsibility of keeping it alive would be an important thing for him.
But she wasn’t sure about asking him. Would he think it too much responsibility? Would her ex-husband cut the idea to shreds? Would everyone hate her for being so nosy?
She decided to take the risk and spoke up. She told him that it was time, that he was ready to have the responsibility of the dog. He loved the idea. The look on his face when he heard that she thought him responsible enough was totally worth the risk.
The dog now spends long weekends with her son and he is drinking far less.
She had an idea and she shared it. And it could very well change the life of her whole family and that of future families. What a gift.
So there you go. My 5 Reasons to Speak Up.
Speaking up is not an easy thing. We don’t speak up because of fear, or lack of confidence or a lifetime of not knowing how to do anything differently. If we learn to speak up it will get us straight onto the pathway to living the life of our dreams.
So start small. Today. Tell someone something that you might not ordinarily tell them.
Tell your partner you love them. Your child that you are proud of them. Your boss that you have a great idea for that meeting next week. Your mother-in-law that you love having dinner with them but that this week just won’t work because you have tickets to the Nutcracker for your family.
Speak your truth, big or small. Raise your voice above a whisper.
Change the world.
Looking for more ways to speak up? Contact me and I can help!
I am a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. My writing has been published on The Huffington Post, Prevention, Psych Central, Pop Sugar, MSN and The Good Man Project, among others. I work with all kinds of people to help them go from depressed and overwhelmed to confident and happy in their relationships and in their world.