For many of us, speaking up and making our voices heard is difficult. While it’s human nature to care about what others think, worrying about this too much can stop you from living your life.
The following is just a brief list of reasons to make your voice heard:
- It’s the only way to get your needs met
Nobody is a mind reader. Just as you don’t know what’s going through the mind of that stranger walking down the street, they don’t know what’s going through yours. For this same reason, we can’t assume that our families, friends, boyfriends, or girlfriends know exactly what we’re thinking either.
The only way we have a chance at getting our needs met is to have a voice. Commonly misunderstood as being selfish, vocalizing our wants and needs is really a healthy part of any relationship.
- It’s the only solution to conflict
Nobody enjoys conflict, which is one of the many reasons it often gets swept under the rug. Think back to the last time you handled conflict with avoidance…. what happened? The situation probably didn’t end well.
Conflict is inevitable in any relationship, and as much as we dislike it, the result in not dealing with it is much worse. Problems don’t just disappear. In fact, they get bigger if they’re not discussed. While it may seem uncomfortable to engage in conflict resolution, the alternative is that you will likely experience a rise in resentment.
Remember, you have a voice for a reason, so use it!
- It’s a form of self-care
Yes, you read that right, speaking up for yourself is a form of self-care. When you get to the point where you’re able to use your voice, you’ll notice how freeing and liberating the experience is.
Speaking up builds confidence; it means you trust in yourself, your beliefs and your opinions enough to stick up for yourself. It helps you realize that you matter, you have a voice, and that voice deserves to be heard.
Many people are hesitant to clearly have a voice or speak up for themselves for fear of rejection or not getting their desired outcome. And truthfully, just because you use your voice, it doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to get the result you want. Your partner, family, and friends are still entitled to express their needs and desires, too.
But even if the situation doesn’t change, you’ll find comfort in knowing that you did all that you could to stand up for yourself and make your desired outcome known. You can at least chalk it up to experience. Like anything, the more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll become.
Tips for speaking up:
Just as it’s not healthy to be timid and afraid to speak your mind, it’s also unhealthy to speak harshly and abrasively. You can use these tips to find a healthy balance when you speak your mind:
- Keep your cool
- Blowing up at someone or speaking in anger will just cause them to put their guard and withdraw.
- It’s important to speak your truth but do so in a mellow manner.
- Timing is everything
- Let’s say you just found out a friend said something unkind about you. You have reason to be upset, but give yourself time to cool off.
- Set aside a time to talk once you’ve calmed down and can rationally explain your feelings.
- Don’t place blame
- When you blame someone (even if they are at fault) they are also more likely to become angry and defensive
- Use “I” instead of “You” statements. For example: “I felt really hurt when I found out what was said about me”, instead of “You told ____ about _____ when I specifically asked you not to!”
- Be ready to listen
- Once you’ve spoken your mind, be ready to engage in a double-sided conversation.
- Try to listen from a place of understanding and empathy.
It’s important to practice using your voice not only in romantic relationships but friendships, familial relationships, and work relationships, as well. If you find you struggle to use your voice confidently, scheduling time to meet with a therapist might be worthwhile.
Your voice counts! Consider working with someone who will help you uncover it, value it, and share it authentically.