Updated: Sep 10, 2020
Speaking up can be difficult for many people when it comes to friends, family, social situations, and work endeavors. We want to come off as the nice person who is respectful and considerate. However, this usually means we let others dominate the conversation, talk little to none about ourselves, don’t put our two cents in on opinions and don’t introduce ourselves to other newcomers. We let the conversation go however the other person wants it, and do not let our authentic self shine through. This can be very uncomfortable and lead to social anxiety. Always remember the opposite of nice isn’t mean, the opposite of being nice isn’t being an asshole. The opposite of being nice is being powerful and assertive, two words that may scare you right now. Here are five reasons you should start speaking up:
1. You won’t hurt others if you speak up One of the first excuses you can use to not speak up is to tell yourself that you don’t want to upset others by whatever you would want to say. Maybe someone else is in a bad place and you don’t want to brag about your accomplishments or upcoming ventures, maybe you are nervous about making another feel left out, maybe you think this person will be mad or upset with you for whatever you want to share. However, being/becoming upset is a passing emotion, it is temporary. Even if the other person reacts in a less than favorable way, they will not stay in this emotion. How many times have you gotten into an argument with someone but quickly made up within hours? This is just another excuse you tell yourself that will keep you quiet. Whatever you have to share is valuable and important, regardless of how another takes it. If you are happy an excited about something, anyone with good intent will feel the same regardless of their personal situation.
2. Protecting others robs them of their growth You may think that you are protecting someone from the harsh truth of a situation and doing this just means you love them. This could come out in various way such as immediately fixing all of someone’s problems for them, shielding them from the truth, not breaking up with someone because you don’t want to hurt them, etc. Staying in a relationship when you’re not in love robs that other person and yourself of finding true love and happiness. We must stop thinking of everyone as a victim that we are going to hurt and break if we speak our truth. Even if someone acts and secretly identifies themselves as a victim, we still must let them find their own way so they can grow and know they are capable of standing on their own two feet, making their own choices. Plus, if you show someone you believe in them to make the right choice, they might start to believe that they can.
3. Honesty creates an authentic bond We all want a true connection with others, it is part of the human experience. How would we ever be able to bond with another if our relationship is based off of lies? Not only does this rob us of an authentic connection, but it can build up resentment in yourself and not allow others to know the real you. Saying the truth is a good thing; not trying to manipulate someone else in to responding the way we want or liking us because of what we’re saying. We are being authentically us and having an authentic conversation, allowing us to fully and deeply connect with another. These are how real relationships are built and have conversations that set your soul on fire and remind you, you’re alive and thriving.
4. Anything you have to say, no matter how minuscule, matters.
In social situations one of the main reasons you may stay quiet is because there is a voice in your head that states “No one cares what I have to say, no one will be interested, I live a relatively low key life that no one will care about.” These limiting beliefs we have formed make it next to impossible to even think of something to say. Another limiting belief would be you don’t know enough about whatever topic you want to speak on or add to the conversation. These limiting beliefs are untrue and keep you stuck in your patterns. You may feel that people will judge you the same way you judge yourself, but this is actually highly unlikely. Your opinion could be the one to change people’s mind about something, open them up to an idea or viewpoint that they didn’t know before voiced your opinion.
5. Free yourself
How many times have you had a conversation with someone, where you barley spoke up, went home, and replayed the conversation over in your head for hours, days, weeks, maybe even months? “Oh, if I only had said this, or I should have said that, then none of this would have happened!” Once you start speaking up, you confidently know you said the best you could at the time, and you don’t have to waste your time wishing you said more or something differently; you simply said the best you could. Free yourself from this replay loop from hell. We regret more of what we didn’t do than what we did mistakenly. Most of this feedback loops comes from not standing up for ourselves the way that we wished. Speaking up will free you from your negative, repetitive thoughts and let yourself know that you can protect and care for yourself. Standing up for yourself is an act of self-love.
Standing up for yourself can look different for anyone such as leaving a bad relationship, quitting a toxic job, moving somewhere new, setting strict boundaries for people in your life, not allowing others to dictate your life plan, following your own passions, cutting off friendships, and seeking help from others such as a life couch or therapist.
The next time you are in a social situation, think of these tips as the conversation flows. This will take practice, as you won’t just be able to talk freely immediately after years of being quiet and reserved. If you know you are headed to a social situation, think of things you can share with others before you even go. Practice saying them in the mirror, think of things to say when people ask how you are doing or what you’ve been up too. Don’t downplay anything you want to share; you never know who will be interested.