Speaking up and declaring your truth is hard to do especially in a world where most people prefer to talk more than listen. How many times have you fully listened to someone as you debate and have a discussion with them? Many people get so caught up in their own emotions that they forget to empathise and understand other people. Often times, some people are already thinking and preparing for the perfect clap back and response instead of fully listening to the points raised by the other (in order to win an argument that doesn’t call for a winner). How many times have you felt shut down- even by those who are supposed to be your friends? How many times have you felt ignored and not given a chance to explain yourself thoroughly?
So you ask yourself…
‘How can they possibly hear what I’m about to say? Are they even interested? ‘Is it even worth it?’
Below, I will list the benefits of speaking up and the positive differences you can make when you are truthful and honest.
You don’t get used to silent suffering
To honestly tell someone- ‘That’s not fair’ ‘That’s not right. or ‘You really hurt my feelings.’ can sometimes feel a little too daunting and you feel afraid of being labelled sensitive or a drama queen. So, you sit there pondering about the unfair comments and hurtful things people have said, so you sit alone, feeling offended, soaking in their painful words and assumptions. You internalise it all and end up suffering in silence then before you know it, your fear of speaking up has become so huge that you let people disrespect you and those around you all the time. Then you find yourself, again, sitting all alone with no one else to blame but yourself because you blindly conditioned yourself to accept it. It’s not good to internalise your emotions because you end up with built in resentment that’s not healthy for you or anyone.
You may make a positive impact
My friends, I tell you this from the heart… I think there is a value in speaking your truth and being unafraid to point out the flaws, injustice and the negatives in some situations you find yourselves in because should you choose to sit there in fear and silence, you miss out on making a positive change for you and those around you. Of course be mindful of how you raise valid points. It’s never okay to attack or to be consumed by anger. Speak your truth clearly and calmly. It’s normal for some people to feel defensive especially when we point out the flaws in some situations. People who respect you will understand your points or even if they don’t, will at least try to make an effort to understand and will respect your opinions. If they don’t and carry on attacking you, then perhaps it’s time to move on from those people. There are other people out there who believe in respecting each other’s differences. There may be a room full of people who disagree with you and shut you down but you never know who might be listening outside those four walls. You might just make a positive impact on someone’s life and you may just teach them to also feel brave enough to speak up. You may feel reluctant and defeated but I can assure you that there is always someone out there who will be inspired by your courage.
You may help with making things right
It takes a brave person to speak up when they know that their opinion may be unpopular. It takes courage to speak your truth in fear of judgement and retaliation. It’s okay to be afraid of rocking the boat. It’s completely normal to feel that it’s best to leave things as they are. But have you also ever thought about the positive outcomes that may come from you letting people know how you feel? What if they didn’t know they offended you? How can they possibly address and correct what is wrong when they are completely unaware of your feelings and their actions? What if they are completely misinformed or what if they just needed a wake up call? Steering them into the right direction may also be a really good thing to do. Friends accept friends no matter what because friends understand each other. This reminds me of a quote which says ‘Never explain yourself…your friends don’t need it and your enemies won’t believe you.’ -Ziad K. Abdelnour
There may be a room full of people who disagree with you and shut you down but you never know who might be listening outside those four walls.
You may also find that you’re wrong
But it can also go the other way- What if you find yourself misinformed? What if you have assumed they felt something about you but you completely read it wrong? What if you’re upset for no reason at all? It’s easy for a breakdown in communication to happen and if no one is brave enough to speak up, then no one knows the disconnect exists. We must point out the wrongs in order to make things right. You can’t keep ignoring issues and hope they go away on their own. People don’t often say what they really mean and some also say what they mean by forms of cryptic messages- almost like riddles we’re forced to solve. Unfortunately, with the rise of social media messaging, our challenges ahead have become more difficult than ever.
You can prevent things from getting worse
Gossips and Chinese whispers can break relationships and ruin reputations. It’s better to be upfront and honest so people can hear the truth from the real source rather than hearing altered versions of the truth from others. It’s so easy for some people to twist the truth. This is why I believe it’s important to be open and honest as much as possible. Ignore the mob mentality that often takes over when a certain group feels as though they have allies and may collectively choose to shut you down. Never be afraid to stand out and speak up even if you find yourself all alone. It’s better to be yourself than go along with the crowd- trust me, there will come a time when someone you will meet would much prefer someone with integrity and higher principles. Sometimes, people can make things up in order to discredit someone; end such gossips and focus on speaking your truth because true friends and honourable people will respect you for that.
It takes a brave person to speak up when they know that their opinion may be unpopular.
An example of a time when I bravely spoke up
A few days ago, I made a decision to speak up against something which I thought was negative, unacceptable and unfair. I didn’t mean to offend or judge others for their comments or actions. As a matter of fact, that was the whole point of my message- ‘I don’t think it’s fair to judge’. I sent this message not to provoke or trigger negative feelings. My intention was to remind everyone not to get overly carried away by their emotions and to stand by what we all stand for which is ‘Empowering each other’. I personally didn’t think it made sense to endorse positivity and empowerment then the next moment tear somebody down by making a negative comment which judged their inner being. I was simply voicing an opinion about the subject matter and how we shouldn’t jump into conclusions without knowing all the facts and I also mean truly know the person being judged. They argued back and said that that they were also voicing their own opinion and their own right to judge certain individuals based on how they perceive them to be, even if it’s based only on what they have heard from other sources and outward appearances. I was surprised to hear that argument from people who championed sisterhood charities and women’s empowerment. They argued that it’s okay to make judgemental comments in a private forum (saying that they would never post their comments publicly) whether the details are accurate or not, because they wanted to exercise their right to judge and so I respected that even though I personally wouldn’t do the same. I believe that if it’s something I can’t say in public, then I won’t say it at all (even privately). I’m the kind of person who gives people a chance. I’m the kind of person who tries to be mindful of the words and comments I put out in the world. There may have been a time in my life when I was younger when I have made comments because I was angry and hurt but now that I have learned so much, I know better and try to do better. I won’t make a judgement purely on assumptions because that to me wouldn’t be fair to anyone. It seems that for many of those people I had this discussion with, judging someone purely on face value is acceptable and I guess, the fact is, we are all different and we all behave in different ways mainly because we have all come from different backgrounds and cultures. I think that if they feel strongly about their own beliefs, then I have to respect that no matter how much we disagree. In the end, some of them said they accepted and respected my thoughts but they still continued to argue their points for a while which was their right to do. Some reached out to me to express their sympathies which was nice and some even apologised (I didn’t think the discussion and issue called for an apology at all but I was appreciative of their gesture nonetheless) but what I can say is that there is a very fine line between criticising and having an opinion so we must tread carefully- you never know who is watching.
I bravely spoke up…no matter how many people attempted to shut me down because I didn’t want to miss out on creating a positive change no matter how it may have been perceived. Speak your truth and stand up for what you think is right no matter how difficult the road ahead may be. Rocking the boat may be a bad move for some but for me, it’s better to know the ones who respect you and your honesty no matter how much you rocked that boat because then if it tipped, you get to know the ones who helped you ride the waves and you can assess the relationships you have with those who let you drown.