Why can’t you say something?


By David Joel Miller.

Do you find it difficult to speak your mind?

Afraid to Speak Up

Afraid to Speak Up.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

For good or bad some people have little or no difficulty saying what is on their mind. Others find it next to impossible to speak up even when they have something really important to say. Not expressing yourself can impair your relationships, both personal and professional.

Inability to speak up can be the result of a number of things you have been telling yourself. It is often a case of low self-esteem or it can be a sign of a more serious anxiety disorder. Try the corrective tips below. If after you try these things you are still struggling with speaking up consider working with a counselor to reduce your anxiety and improve your self-confidence.

What are some of the common reasons people hesitate to say what they are thinking and how can you overcome these issues? How many of these excuse do you use to keep from saying your piece?

You are silent because you don’t have the facts.

It pays to be sure you have your facts straight. Telling yourself this too much inhibits your ability to communicate with others. Unfortunately, people never have every possible fact. Sometimes you need to form an opinion based on the information you have. You also will have times when you need to express your preferences and feelings. There is no such thing as the “correct” way to feel or think. Some preferences may make your life easier but your preferences are, after all, your desires. If you don’t express them you make it unlikely that your wishes will be taken into consideration.

Negative self-talk inhibits expression.

Do you have a running commentary going on in your head? One that questions your judgment, tells you to stay silent because you could be wrong? Negative self-talk can lower your self-esteem and reduce your ability to take action. Tell those runaway thoughts to stop running away with your self-esteem.

Early in life, many people fell into the habit of calling themselves “stupid” or “dumb.” You may have developed this habit because others called you names or this may have arisen because you felt embarrassed about making mistakes. Repeatedly calling yourself names results in your brain trying to make these things come true. This self-created commandment “though shalt not express your thought” gets to be the default setting in your brain.

Positive affirmations can help alter this mental conversation. Tell yourself that your thoughts matter. “I have the right to express my feelings.’ Look for positive affirmations that improve your self-confidence and self-esteem.

Thought-stopping can also be used to get those unhelpful thoughts to leave your head. When you child does something that you do not want them to do we quickly tell them to “stop that.” Learn to tell that voice in your head, the one you are creating through your negative self-talk, to be silent and see what happens.

Your need to be liked gets in the way of being you.

People who only like you when you agree with them are pretty shallow. Mature relationships leave plenty of room for two people to disagree and still be friends. People who matter will like you for you. If you start speaking up in an assertive not aggressive way, you will find that others will respect you and want to hear what you have to say.

If your life is full of people who are only your friends if you agree with them, take another look at how healthy these friendships are. Some people, family, in particular, you may need to just accept that is the way they are and leave it at that. Other people are not worth you’re being fake to yourself to be liked by them.

You don’t believe what you have to say is important.

You are an important person, just like every other person. You will never know what kind of valuable contribution to a conversation you might make until you make it. Those people in your life should want to hear what you have to say. Some of those closest to you have been waiting for you to express yourself. Close friends and partners may have been wondering why you were not willing to share what you thought with them.

Become a part of the conversation and see how much closer and more connected you will become.

You are deathly afraid of conflict.

Avoiding conflict by not being and not feeling is no way to be. You won’t avoid conflict by not expressing yourself you will just hide it. How would others know what you wanted and liked if you fail to express it?

Unexpressed differences of opinion keep people from connecting on deeply personal levels. Let others know how you feel and who you are deep down on that essential level. The way to resolve conflicts is to get them out in the open, work through them and find solutions that work for all involved.

You are afraid of rejection.

Some people will reject you if they don’t like the things you have to say. Are those people really worth the effort if you need to be a fake person to be around them?  People who matter, the kind you would want for friends and intimate partners are unlikely to reject you because of what you say.

Test this out. Start by expressing small things, what you like and where you want to go. See how others respond to you. You may well discover that others in your life will appreciate this new, more communicative person you are becoming.

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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

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