Biting My Tongue
Have you ever bit your tongue? I don’t mean the physical chomping down on that tender extraordinary part of our anatomy. Have you ever not said the words springing to mind? There are times when I am at a loss for what to say. (Hard to believe, I know.) Usually this is when someone is hurting or grieving. I don’t want to be cliché or obtuse saying the well meaning but irrelevant words. Biting my tongue is entirely different. The words are there. I just don’t speak them.
Holding back stems from some form of perceived risk. Risking vulnerability: To show that the interaction has hurt my feelings, bruised my ego. Risking conflict: Fear of escalation or retaliation. Risking eating crow: That I was wrong. What I perceived was not the intended message. The biggest risk though is of becoming the aggressor. By speaking up I’ll hurt their feelings. Make others feel less than by point out their errors. That I’ll be the bad guy and be ostracized.
The need for belonging, to be accepted is hard wired. Our ancient ancestor’s very survival depended on tribal inclusion. The squelching of my own voice, however, is more the feminine care taking gone awry. Self-sacrifice. Be compassionate. Don’t offend. Don’t be rude. Don’t make a scene. This energy is not exclusive to women. Men have it too. When we bite our tongue too often for too long we do damage.
When your parent, sibling, friend, peer or spouse say something that rubs, irritates, hurts or annoys and you do not speak up you stunt your spirit. To give up your voice, silence your voice or speak in inauthentic ways hides who we are from others and from ourselves. We are diminished. In addition our unexpressed voice turns to resentment, regret, endless tapes on what we could have and should have said, anxiety, and distancing both metal and physical. The unexpressed thoughts and emotions show up in our bodies as tension, digestive issues, headaches and weight gain. We often also create stories that blame others in a self defense move. How “they” won’t change. How they are insensitive, self centered, oblivious, or mean spirited. All of this is toxic.
I have been doing the heavy lifting of speaking up for several years now. It is still difficult work. The risks can still feel real. Occasionally there is temporary fall out. Did you catch that? Temporary fall out. Over all the benefits of opening my mouth, speaking, being authentic are overwhelmingly better.
I have learned:
* Letting people know how they effect you does not automatically belittle them. On the contrary greater understanding and connection is achieved.
If I address an issue as it buds I don’t have the hate tapes in my head. I am actually reasonable in communication. Never the angry vile person who lives in the hate tapes.
It is so worth it to be vulnerable and uncomfortable speaking out in order to live without those hate tapes.
Regretting what you say is vastly better than regretting what you did not say.
On the journey of our self evolution speaking up for ourselves is crucial. By giving voice you gain self expression which in turn builds confidence. You are able to take down the confining walls of your comfort zone. Brick by brick you learn that the world does not disintegrate when you open your mouth. As we stand for ourselves our sense of worthiness and value increase. In truth no one can invalidate us. We are the ones that allow it to happen.
The most powerful aspect from using our voice is example. My care taking worries are lifting. I’m realizing, more clearly, that each person is responsible for themselves. There is freedom to be more myself as I release the idea that others can’t handle my truth. By example we grant others permission to speak out as well. Instead of inciting injury sacred ground is laid. Honesty is met with honesty. Complex and shakily vulnerable conversations can be had. Anger, sadness, confusion, hurt, desire, appreciation, and love are all given space. It takes courage to speak up. It takes trust to listen. It takes tenacity to stay in connected open discourse. Ultimately we claim our own validity while lifting those around us.
For Your Best Possible Self
Coach Christine Clark