I am on a quest to learn how to use my voice, be more assertive, and state my opinions even when I know that other people are going to disagree or disapprove of me.
For a recovering Approval Seeking People Pleaser, this is hard work. It is way easier and more natural for me to nod in agreement, smile and stay silent so that the other people will like me.
I am a million times better than I used to be.
I have learned how to tolerate the discomfort of disagreement and disapproval.
I have learned assertiveness techniques.
I have learned how to make my thoughts, feelings and needs count too.
I have learned these things. They are not natural for me.
But I am far from perfect!
Just this past weekend, I was out to dinner with a good friend who I will call Laura. When Laura commented on a FB post by of one my favorite mentors, Susan Hyatt, I missed an opportunity to use my voice and tell her why I disagreed with her. Instead, I responded with generalities about what other people thought.
Susan Hyatt's post was a response to a question she received from, shall we way, a non-fan of hers. The question was: "Why don't you get dressed and stop posting body photos?"
Susan replied with the picture at the bottom of this post.
371 people “liked” the picture.
89 people wrote affirming, positive comments about it.
When Laura said that she thought this picture made Susan look “trashy”, I immediately felt the familiar surge of uncomfortable energy that runs throughout my entire body when I have a different opinion than the one being asserted.
And that part of my brain that wants everyone to like me? It started screeching “Red Alert! Red Alert! This person is not going to like you if you don’t agree with her! Oh NO!! Say something that won’t upset her!”
In the moment, I responded in a way that was easy and kept me safe in my comfort zone. I listened kindly to her opinion. I let her know that I understood her view point. I validated her opinion. I responded in neutral safe terms explaining why Susan posted that picture, and why other people responded positively. But I never once said my opinion directly.
I wish I would have used "I" language and said, “I totally get why you think that. I think the picture was total Bass Assery and I thought that it was a brilliant and creative way to say “Fuck You” to her hater.”
Here’s the bottom line, when you swallow your own voice, you become angry and resentful towards the other person. You make yourself smaller. You put yourself on the back burner. You aren’t standing in your own integrity. You are not being truthful. You let someone else’s opinion be more important than your own.
And no one’s opinion is more important than your own.
There is a huge personal cost to not speaking your truth.
And while I have become much better at speaking up, I know this is where my personal development work lies. My goal is to be able to say what I think and how I feel 100% of the time!
It’s a big goal.
I like big goals.