Why can’t you say something?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Old phone

Bad Communication.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Do you find it difficult to speak your mind?

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 your 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.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Being verbally blunt can be a good or a bad thing.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

blunt

Being verbally blunt can be a good or a bad thing.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Saying what you think can get you liked or it can get you hated.

Are you one of those people who find they can’t help saying what they think? This can be a blessing or a curse. If you have this trait and it has gotten you in trouble or damaged relationships read on for some tips on how to make this characteristic work to your advantage.

Some people who are blunt, speak their mind, are perceived as rude and irritating. Others get the reputation of being frank and honest. Telling the truth, being extremely straightforward, comes with risks. Holding back on information makes people question your honesty.

It is hard to trust people who won’t give you a straight answer.

Being too cautious about what you say can lead to never really giving anyone an answer to their questions. Those folks who do not respond to others statements may think they are avoiding conflict. What they accomplish is to leave everyone wondering what they really think and can they be trusted.

People who change their opinion when they move from person to person do not get trusted. Get clear on what you think and want, then find ways to convey your positions in a consistent manner if you want to be trusted.

Being straightforward about your feelings and beliefs can get you the reputation for honesty if – and only if – you do it correctly.

It is not what you say but how you say it.

Think of this like cleaning the dirt off a fine old wood table. You can use a clean, soft, polishing cloth that contains some cleaner specifically made for that special wood furniture. Or you can use some steel wool. Both will get the dirt off. One leaves it healthy and restored and the other will leave scars in the finish.

If you dislike something, explaining why in calm gentle language, makes your position easier to listen to. If you express yourself in statements laced with profanity or attacks on others you turn your listeners away. Cruel words hurt regardless of the truth of your statements.

Learning to slow down what you are saying so that it comes out the way you mean it is an important skill. You need to learn to prevent collateral damage from the way others may interpret what you said. Much of the poor communication people talk about is the direct result of ambiguous statements that get interpreted in ways the speaker never intended.

There is a right way and a wrong way to convey bad news.

Saying things in a blunt way when it is done in a hurtful manner can result in lasting damage to the relationship. When expressing something that may be hard to hear, concentrate on the other person and how they feel. How would you want someone to tell you that they disagreed with you?

Work on putting yourself in the other person’s place, not on discharging your negative emotions. One technique for expressing disagreements without destroying relationships is called the Sandwich Technique. Take a look at the past post describing how this can be an effective way of delivering bad news without harming the other person.

Become comfortable with others disagreeing with you.

Think very carefully about what you believe and why. Become open to other points of view. The people who create the most wreckage with their bluntness are often those who are insecure in their own beliefs.

If you start feeling threatened when others have a different view then there is a possibility that you are shaky in what you believe. If others not agreeing with you is threatening, then work on yourself, not on forcing others to agree with you by yelling louder and attacking their thoughts.

Learn to disagree without attacking the other person.

When you disagree with someone learn to think of this as someone who has a different opinion not someone who is “ignorant” or “stupid.”  Calling people names impedes communication. Someone who makes a mistake is not any of the global characteristics people may call them.

One error does not make them “stupid.” Very intelligent people make mistakes. In fact the more you learn and think about the more likely you are to make a mistake. Calling people names or personally attacking them does not make you right or improve your situation.

You and others have the right to be wrong sometimes.

Sometimes you will believe something and later find out that you were wrong. You have the right to be wrong. We all do. Allow that in disagreements others have the right to make mistakes and be wrong from time to time. It is not helpful to believe that someone who is incorrect about something is a “liar.” Allow others to be wrong when they are and let things that are not all that important go.

There is little value in spotting someone else’s errors and pointing them all out. Rather than this being helpful, this can permanently damage a relationship.

People, who grew up in a non-affirming environment, where they were never told they were OK, grow up to be low in “self-esteem.” You do not need to destroy someone else’s self-esteem by pointing out all their flaws. Finding others errors will not do much to elevate your self-esteem. Let it go.

For more on the topic of bluntness and honesty and when it may damage relationships you might also want to look at a past post: Just being honest

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.