What are you waiting for? The people who want to hear what you have to say are out there, ready to listen!
In thinking about what I was going to say in this article, I have been forced to think about the times I DIDN'T speak up. Truthfully, it is very humbling to force yourself to think back to moments in your life when you stayed silent, despite your entire being telling you to do just the opposite. Right now, think back in your life to a situation as above. It doesn't have to be groundbreaking, but make sure it is a potent memory of a time you should have spoken up. What did that feel like in the moment? What does it feel like now? Do you regret not speaking out?
I bet that your answer sounds similar to what most others would say. Those moments are usually scary, tense, and full of anxiety. In the past, you probably felt you did not have the courage to speak up or didn't feel it was your place to say anything at all. Now, you probably feel that you should have taken that courageous step because it was in fact in your best interest to speak up. Chances are, you regret not saying what was on your mind.
Alright, enough of that negativity. What I need you to do right now is to focus and do a little exercise with me. With that regret still fresh in your mind, tell yourself that it was alright that you didn't speak up. Tell yourself that there is nothing you can do about it now, as it is in the past. This simple exercise, if repeated, will help you release that tension or stress that you've been carrying as a result of not speaking up. If the moment isn't that far in the past, make a conscious effort to actually speak your mind. Yes, go back to that person or situation and speak your mind. I promise you will feel better.
People often talk with wonder about speaking their mind. If I could just give that person a piece of my mind! I don't suggest speaking up in anger, as that may start a fight, but I do suggest speaking up. In my life, and probably in yours, there are too many people who don't speak their mind. As someone who is actively trying to speak my mind more often, I can tell when people do this.
People who are not speaking their mind speak in passive-aggressive tones. They make suggestions instead of being forthcoming with what they actually desire. Often, someone in this situation will never say anything at all. This is the easiest example to spot. John or Jane is sitting in their chair with an opinion that might as well be popping out of their head in a cartoon bubble. It's written all over their face, displayed in their fidgeting and their deep sighs. You want to say something, so say it!
Speaking your mind will set you free.
I believe that the root cause of this withholding has to do with perceptions. We care so much about other people's opinions that we don't want to express our own! We are so afraid that our words will be ridiculed so we never say them at all.
THIS IS IDIOTIC.
You're scared that someone will say something, but only if you say something? That is some triple-level dream, Inception stuff. It is completely unnecessary.
I will admit that there are thousands of people who speak their minds each day on social media. People come out in support of this or against that. But that's not the type of speaking your mind I'm talking about. A perfect example of this displayed on social media day in and day out. People log in to their Facebook or Twitter account, hidden behind the fortress which is our computer screens, and say any number of vile, mean, low-down, dirty things. This is not speaking your mind. This is being cruel.
Speaking your mind is correcting someone who you know is wrong. It is saying something to that bully who is pestering your friend. It is saying no more when someone makes a racist or sexist comment in your workplace. It is having confidence that people want to hear what you have to say because you, and your opinion, are valuable.
The chances of someone ridiculing you are low, I promise. If people don't feel the same way as you, they will counter argue your point. If people simply ridicule or laugh at what you've said, I say its time to kick those people out of your circle. Constructive conflict that arises out of you speaking your mind is key to progress.
If you tell someone the truth, they are one step closer to knowing the truth for themselves. If you speak out against workplace discrimination, you are one step closer to having a discrimination-free workplace. If you tell someone your true feelings, you are one step closer to an ideal relationship.
I challenge you to try to speak your mind more often. Tell people your thoughts and opinions. Help move the conversation in a positive direction. Create a dialogue with others instead of keeping your words in. Have the courage to say what you mean, and your life will be better for it.