Do you stop yourself from voicing your opinion or disagreeing with others because you fear how they’ll react? Do you worry about what they’ll think (or say) about you? If so, silence may seem the safest option, but keeping it zipped comes at a price. Staying quiet when you have something valuable to contribute can feel uncomfortable and may also affect your self-esteem. Being at ease expressing yourself is an essential ingredient to well-being. You have a right to be heard and most people will respect this. Your opinion is valid regardless of whether others hold similar views. Sharing opinions and respectfully accepting other people’s stance is good for everyone. Naturally, not everybody will agree with everything you say, just as you won’t always agree with others, and that’s ok. It’s important to remember that if someone disagrees with you it doesn’t mean they don’t like you; you can agree to disagree. People can hold different views but still enjoy each other’s company.
Self-help gurus and confident folk will tell you that it doesn’t matter what others think, and I agree. So much energy (and sleep) is lost by those who overthink every discussion. This can be detrimental to both physical and mental health. But if you’re someone who routinely re-runs every conversation, you may find this easier to say than to implement. It takes work and practise to get comfortable with letting go of the self-talk that accompanies negative thoughts. The problem with self-talk is that it’s usually critical and overly harsh. How often have you heard people say, ‘I bet she thinks I’m intelligent’ or ‘he obviously thinks I deserve promotion’? Not often, right?
Sadly, many of us have been brought up to believe that self-deprecation is polite or attractive, and ‘being pleased with ourselves’ is the opposite. I disagree. We need to like and approve of ourselves to feel good. Whilst staying silent may seem a good way to avoid criticism and to make (or keep) friends, it isn’t. If you never offer an opinion and always go along with what others want, they will make assumptions about your preferences, or worse still pay no heed to them. Resentment is likely to ensue. Even the nicest people can inadvertently take advantage of those who fail to assert themselves.
If you find speaking up or expressing your opinion stressful or anxiety provoking, or lockdown has dented your confidence, do get in touch. Clients have found my hypnotherapy and CBT sessions really helpful for improving their self-esteem and assertiveness. I offer free no-obligation phone consultations, so take the first step to overcoming your fears and give me a call.
Photo Credit: Andrea Piacquadio