Courage doesn’t always roar.
Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying,
“I will try again tomorrow.”
Mary Anne Radmacher
Life is full of situations in which it can be difficult to say what we really think, but sometimes silence comes at a high price. In a recent article in the British newspaper The Guardian, a nurse reported that failing to express our true emotions is one of the most common deathbed regrets.
There are important benefits of speaking your mind. Here are a few suggestions about constructive ways to get started.
Benefits of speaking your mind and expressing your feelings
1. A fuller life
Be the one to dare to take on difficult issues. By doing so you will learn a great deal about yourself, your loved ones and the world around you. Taking on more challenges will help you discover and reach your true potential.
2. Authenticity counts
Become more authentic. If you make a regular habit of suppressing your true feelings, you will soon find that you are out of touch with them as well. Get to know the real you and accept yourself for who you are.
3. Work through your fears
Fear and anxiety build up when we try to shelter ourselves from the more difficult truths rather than facing them directly. When you see yourself successfully negotiating a disagreement with your boss, or significant other, or child, or friend, you will feel much more confident in your abilities.
4. Improve your relationships
Clearing the air promptly helps keep those quiet resentments from building up. For instance, ask your significant other to share in more of the housework, rather than grousing around and feeling like a martyr.
5. Liberate yourself and others
Courage is contagious. Your willingness to be direct and honest often makes it easier for others to find the courage to do the same.
Where do you start?
After years of hiding from yourself and others, you are ready to be yourself again. Here are a few steps to help you get started on the right foot.
1. What is your motive?
Clarify your intentions. Everyone benefits when we all devote ourselves to promoting the common good. It sure beats the heck out of worrying about being comfortable, not offending or universally popular.
2. What’s the risk?
Consider the risks that may be involved. There will still be some situations in which you need to choose restraint over letting loose. Check. Perhaps you have valid concerns about an office policy, but know that your supervisor is unlikely to be receptive to any kind of suggestion.
3. Check yourself
Take accountability for your own emotions. State your feelings in a way that avoids putting the blame on others. Recognize that your unpleasant feelings often have more to do with your own mindset rather than with the actual external events.
4. Start small
It really is okay to proceed gradually. Talk with your best friend about how her showing up late for appointments affects you. Work your way up to approaching people who may be less directly concerned with your well being.
Practice regularly. Like any other skill that you’d like to improve, open communications improve the more you practice. Take note of daily opportunities to speak up so you will be prepared when more difficult conflicts come along.
6. Always be tactful
Even when you need to confront some difficult truths, you can choose a setting and the appropriate language that will make the message more palatable. If tempers are already flaring, back it down. Give yourselves time to calm down and speak privately. Try making requests rather than demanding changes.
7. Respect boundaries
Just because you have personally decided to become more forthright, other people may still have different priorities working. Unless someone’s welfare is in serious or mortal danger, remember to be sensitive to the topics they may prefer to leave untouched.
8. Listen intentionally
On the other hand, you may find that others welcome an opportunity to be candid. Give people your full attention. Show that you are completely attuned to their concerns. If you feel overwhelmed by what you’re hearing, ask for time to reflect before continuing the discussion.
9. Share good stuff too
Sometimes people shy away from pleasant feelings as well as the unpleasant ones. You should get in the habit of handing out more compliments. Let people know how their kind acts and generosity improve your life and how much you care about them.
If you want to live your life to the fullest, get in touch with your true feelings and bring them out into the open. You enrich your own experiences and empower those around you to do the same.