I saw this prompt and found myself making a wry smile because I could basically say, “I should have spoken up All of the Times in My Whole Life.”
Speaking up is not at all my forte, which is no surprise to you if you have read this blog for any length of time.
I have some friends who are very good at speaking their minds, and I feel a sense of jealousy because that seems like a much freer way to live.
But they tell me that their freedom to speak comes with its own set of downsides, in that they have often wished they could take back things they’ve said!
I know, I know, I know that the sweet spot is somewhere in the middle; it’s speaking when speaking is called for and biting the tongue when silence is called for.
The middle ground is such a hard place to find, though.
Why am I afraid to speak up? Part of it is self-preservation (it doesn’t feel good when people are mad at me).
I think the other part is the dark side of empathy. I am always going through life imagining how other people might feel (it’s often helpful to do so!).
So if I consider saying something hard to someone else, I find myself imagining how those hard words might land and how the other person might feel, and gosh, I hate to be catalyst for the sad feelings of another person.
I know the solution to this is to really ponder what is good for the other person, rather than what would be easy for them to hear. That’s a thought path that helps me open my mouth; I really do care about other people and I want to help, not hurt.
So if I can manage to frame a hard conversation that way, I am more likely to say something.