Learning to Speak

This week, me and my therapist talked about the importance of speaking up for yourself. This is something I have struggled with my whole life. I am afraid to let someone know if they’ve offended me or bothered me. I am afraid to set boundaries with people or say no. I am also afraid to ask for things. My brain tells me that if I bring up something uncomfortable, it will escalate into a fight, push the other person over the edge, or result in the other person abandoning me.  It sounds silly to write it out, but when you’re in that awkward spot when you want to say something butjustcan’t, it’s easy for irrational thoughts to take over. And if you’ve ever spoken out before and gotten a negative reaction (as I have; as I imagine we all have), you might be hesitant to do it again.

My therapist asked me, “So, what do you typically do in a situation where you have to let someone know they’ve bothered you or stepped on your toes a bit?” and I replied, “I usually create a really elaborate plan to circumvent having to confront them at all.” She basically did a facepalm.

It’s sad but true–I am more apt to move around huge pieces of my life and create even more stressful situations, rather than just bear a minute or two of awkwardness. I also have a pretty avoidant personality. If something weird comes up, I will probably distance myself from you, cancel plans, skip a day of work, whatever. I’ll try to create passive ways to show you how I feel without ever having to say the words myself. If it’s something painful to talk about, there’s a good chance that I will turn it inwards and take it out on myself, which leaves me hurt and in the same place I was before. It’s as exhausting as it sounds.

But something I learned this week is that speaking up doesn’t have to be a big deal. Sure, there are situations where you’re going to have to break some big news (“I want to break up,” “You’re not the father,” etc.), but in everyday situations where you have to set boundaries or let your needs be known, it doesn’t need to be dreadful. If you are honest, direct, and respectful in the way you communicate it (“I felt hurt when…”), then you have nothing to apologize for.

Bearing a few minutes of discomfort is worth it if it means getting your needs met and letting your voice be heard. Would you rather say nothing and keep feeling weird/miserable, or tough it out for a few seconds and reach a resolution? You are allowed to have feelings. You are allowed to say that something wasn’t okay with you. Speaking up doesn’t make you annoying or needy. In fact, talking about things openly and honestly can help our relationships grow and improve.

I can tell it will be in baby steps for me, but I’m ready to start speaking for myself.


3 thoughts on “Learning to Speak

  1. Hey Autumn :). I just found your blog through Kelsi’s. I’m definitely going to start following! I love how you write and can really relate to a lot of what you’re working through right now.
    The issue with speaking up for yourself is one I think I’ve had a lot of success in (with certain people) since starting treatment 4 years ago. I used to never voice my opinion about anything…but when I went to treatment I realized that this was because, in my “real life,” I didn’t have people surrounding me who were safe to voice opinions around. My family has always been loud and in-your-face if they disagree with you, and I’m very shy and timid in comparison. Being in treatment and around people who could show me respect even if they disagreed with me helped so much. Now, I feel like I’m more able to gauge whether the risk of sharing what I think is worth it or not and, if it isn’t, I’m in control and can choose what to say and not to say to someone or can ask for support in bringing up a hard issue if I need to. It’s a difficult thing to accustom to but so worth it. You can get there!

    • Hi Sarah! Thanks so much for your insight. I’m learning that all things take practice & they’ll get easier and more natural the more I do them. I love your blog too! I am still trying to figure out this whole “following WordPresses” tool but do know that I’ll be checking back! 🙂

  2. Pingback: The Art of Self Compassion | Onwards, Adventurous

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