I recently read somebody’s short musings about having spent too much time overthinking what she says, so rather than simply speaking her mind and openly expressing her feelings she does not take the time to speak her truth as often as she could or perhaps should. How many of us choose not to speak because we are not sure of our words or how we will be received? How many times have you…
Held back a compliment because you felt the words you had were not quite up to expressing your admiration or you were afraid it would not be received the way you desired?
Held off on telling someone how much you care for them or are attracted to them because you didn’t think the time was right, you didn’t think they would requite your affection, or you thought of some other reason to avoid speaking up, something about the two of you being too-one-thing or not-enough-of-something-else?
Held back on speaking your mind when someone has crossed a line or behaved poorly toward you so as not to be the one to seem a toad?
Held your tongue at work when you felt a meeting or plan heading in the wrong direction?
Kept quiet when you saw someone being wronged because you didn’t want to be seen as “that” person, the tattletale, the snitch?
In all of these it is so much easier to say nothing than it is say something, especially when you’re too busy overthinking your words or trying to guess how they will be received.
I’ve been told once or twice that I’m rather forward and cheeky, which I’m usually also told is refreshing. I believe I am my happiest when I’m the most authentic and that authenticity comes from truth. That’s where my forwardness comes from: being authentic.
What could be more authentic then speaking your truth to someone?
I think oftentimes what stops us from speaking our truths and letting our feelings be known is a fear that the words we have are not the right words: they’re not eloquent enough, witty enough, smart enough, clear enough, strong enough, thought out enough… just “not enough.” But this “not enough” mindset comes from insecurity and fear, and letting yourself be stopped by this fear is limiting your ability to have meaningful interactions and relationships with those you encounter daily and those in your close circle.
What is the worst that could happen if you do choose to speak your “not quite enough” words?
You need to rephrase your statement? You rephrase things all the time. You find out the person you care about doesn’t feel the same toward you? Now you can move on. The person who keeps crossing you doesn’t stop? Now you can take a firmer approach. The person you’re complimenting doesn’t receive you kindly? No skin off your nose. Are any of these things really terrible? Are they bad enough to make it reasonable to avoid speaking up?
I think if the worst that could possibly happen is you don’t get what you want from the interaction, it’s not worth keeping quiet. Might it hurt a little? Sure, but as the Dread Pirate Roberts says, “Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something” (The Princess Bride). Pain is going to happen one way or the other but you have some control over what pain you feel at the end of the day.
Personally, I prefer the pain of rejection of my thoughts or feelings over the pain of regretting never speaking up.
But the reality is that you might not find yourself holding the short end of the proverbial stick if you do put yourself out there with your truth.
What is the best that could come from sharing yourself?
You find out that person you adore feels the same way about you? Lovely! You help keep your colleagues from making a decision that is deleterious to the business? Good on ya! The person pestering you stops? *contented sigh* You give someone much needed encouragement right when they need it? What a gift.
There are uncomfortable possibilities for speaking your truth, but there are also significantly more beautiful possibilities as well. The only difference between being the person who lives in the disappointment of regret and the utter delight of having the response you desire is braving the risk of rejection.
Regret is failure. It is failing to try, failing to step out on a limb, failing to be brave, failing to stand. Regret is what you feel when you fail yourself.
Rejection hurts, but it comes with the knowledge that in the very least you had what it takes to speak up. You had the backbone to say how you felt or what you believed knowing the worst that could happen and you did not let fear of the worst possible outcome stop you.
One thing is certain, you will never move from regret to the elation and joy of the best possible outcome if you don’t risk the possibility of that rejection.
I may not be one for gambling, but when it comes to speaking honestly about my feelings and thoughts I think the risk is worth the reward. I won’t go through my life feeling regret. I refuse. When I am rejected, I will move on to something else, something better. And when taking the risk by saying how I really feel results in an answer that is everything I hoped or more, I will revel in the pleasure of knowing I was brave enough to go there.
Originally published 24 October 2017