Not speaking up poisons relationships

Have you ever felt the urge to contribute to a conversation, to call out something that you’ve found offensive, disagree with something someone is sharing with you, but something stops you – as though you’ve been silenced from within. Why do we do this? What is it that stops us from speaking?

There can be many reasons and it’s different for everyone, essentially, it’s as though there is a very fast calculation going on, where we’re working out what the ‘fall out’ will be if we speak up and then we either calibrate our response accordingly, to minimise the impact back on us, or we just don’t speak at all.

What are we protecting? Again, it’s different for each of us and also, it depends on the situation, but it could be fear of how the other person will react; not wanting to ‘offend’; fear of being attacked or ridiculed; not wanting to stand out – to be different or wanting others to like/love us; holding the other person to ransom for past behaviours or judgments. Whatever it is for us, the thought of one of these things happening, seems so much worse than sharing what we were going to say.

However, we can’t possibly know how the other person will react or how they will respond if we do share. We have no right at all to make a judgment on what we think their response may be and it’s really arrogant to think we do. If we are not prepared to be open and transparent with people, how can we expect others to be that way with us?

This behaviour leads us to having arrangements with each other, where there’s an unspoken agreement that ‘I won’t push your buttons if you don’t push mine’. This can be very common in families and it’s really insidious how these arrangements deeply affect and interfere with how we are with each other. We can contort ourselves into the most ridiculous situations and the longer we stay ‘ignorant’ to the game we’re actually buying into, the harder it is to truly enjoy and love being with each other. Why? Because we are privately harbouring hurts from the way we perceive others are treating us, while refusing to admit our part in the ‘arrangement’, which can’t take place unless we are also buying into it on some level.

The game continues until we’re prepared to be honest enough to acknowledge what is going on and to choose to stop the silencer and instead share what we feel to say in the moment. By doing so, we are being honest, which is the most loving way to be in a relationship. We can’t possibly know how deeply our words may support the other person, even if they do react in the moment. When we are impulsed to share something with someone, lovingly and not in reaction, not to do so is denying them the opportunity to grow and learn from the situation.

It could be something really simple like supporting our teenager to understand that the care they put into keeping their room clean and tidy has a very direct impact on how it feels to be in that space delete comma - sleeping and working in there.

When we don’t speak up and we calibrate what we say to each other, it’s super important to know that we’re choosing to play a game, by not being honest, and, like in all games, we may not necessarily be fully aware of what’s going on behind the scenes. If we chose to be honest, we could make life so much more simple and fun, by putting the emphasis on allowing each other the space to share the truth of how things are and THEN we can have truly meaningful and evolving conversations that deeply enrich us all.

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