Have you ever been in a situation where you wanted to say what was on your mind but didn’t, only to walk away and question yourself with statements like “if only I’d have said this” or “why didn’t I say that?” You are not alone. There are all kinds of reasons to walk away and not say what you really want to. Some reasons could be that you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, you feel like no one will understand you anyway or that nothing will change, or you fear confrontation or rejection. Those might seem like legitimate excuses at the time, but when you choose not to say or do what’s true for you, regardless of your rationale, you chip away at the core of your foundation—who you really are.
Each time this occurs you bury a little more of your authenticity. This “emotional layering” results in tension and stress—mental, physical, even spiritual. It can be very obvious but more often than not it happens in a very subtle way. It builds up over time and the buildup is not as recognizable when it appears as agitation or annoyance with other unrelated situations. You might even wonder why you’re reacting to a situation or conversation with hostility. Many times it is because you have residual angst from unresolved core issues.
The illusion that you have “handled” your frustration prohibits you from being emotionally free. Free from reacting, from angst or being true to your ideals, values or beliefs. Sometimes standing up for what you believe in leaves you isolated from others. This can be tough to do, but ultimately it strengthens you and builds your character. When you peel back all of the layers of thoughts, ideas and opinions the only one standing in the middle at the end of all reasoning is YOU. So, make sure that you show up for you, and that you are altruistic. Learn to count on yourself. You are the only common denominator in your life and all of its episodes.
It has been my experience that people are not mind readers. I know I am not a mind reader. Others don’t know how you feel, and certainly cannot do something differently unless they are enlightened. When informed, people are often more accommodating than we think they will be.
One such occurrence involved a client keeping her thoughts to herself when a friend did not do something they said they would do. This pattern continued, and the tension in her body had built up so much that she could not move her neck. Did her friend have any idea of the effect she had? No, of course not. The client was certainly “paying the price” for not being true to herself. She was absorbing the disappointment and frustration she felt over the situation, but not even realizing that it came from herself, not what her friend did or didn’t do. She didn’t speak up for how she felt.
Another situation was a young man who was struggling with choices his friends were making. They didn’t line up with his values. He confronted his friends and asked them to stop doing what they were doing on his parents’ property. They wouldn’t. He was in a tough position. Does he alienate himself from his friends by standing up for what he believes in, or does he allow his friends to do what they want which could result in disrespecting his parents and himself? The mental battle was daunting, but he stood up for himself and what he believed was right. While he watched his friends alienate him, which was very painful, he didn’t realize at the time that he was also building his integrity and character. He could count on his own self respect. When you stand up for yourself and what you believe in and speak up for truth it cannot ﬁnd a place to store in your body or actions. It provides more freedom in living unencumbered.
I know you might be thinking of all kinds of reasons why you can’t do this in “certain situations.” I do, however, encourage you to give more thought to what happens afterwards. If you cannot audibly stand your ground, then at the very least mentally acknowledge what’s true for you until you can practice verbalizing. This will bring you closer to living a more authentic and less stressful life.
“You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right.” – Rosa Parks