How speaking out can save Your relationships

“Stop ignoring people when they hurt you, you must always speak up for yourself!”…This became my husband’s favourite line nearly every other day.

I seemed to constantly suffer at the hands of friends and family. “But I am a nice person”, I thought. “I have practiced bearing wrongs in my heart and even garnished it with forgiveness”.

They say forgive and forget and lately I discovered that although I had forgiven, I never seemed to forget. Each time I set my eyes on those who hurt me, I screamed inside but on the outside, I plastered a smile across my face hoping that the pain would go away if I blinked back the tears hard enough. I was getting crushed under all the hurt. I felt like I really had mug tattooed on my forehead. I seemed to always be the one treated badly. Well to be fair, I never spoke up. I secretly grew jealous of people around me who stood up to these hurtful people. The truth was that they were avoided by these hurtful people who rather stayed away for fear of incurring their wrath. I certainly did not want to become a screamer however, something had to change real soon as I could feel myself approaching the end of my tether- fast!

Well, was I truly being a nice person by pretending all was well when things were anything but well?  I had practiced suppressing my feelings so fantastically that anyone who wronged me would not see a trace of hurt even in my eyes. Yes! my eyes.

You know they say the eyes do not lie. Well, mine were champion liars. You could not easily decipher any hurt through them. It was only a trained eye  (like my husband’s) that could tell that I was hurt as soon as he stepped within sight. He did not even need to see me sometimes. Just by saying hello to him on the phone, he could tell. However, lately, he seemed to be running out of patience with me. Not because he was tired of hearing my cliched lamentations and tales of woes at the hands of people I spent all my energy caring about but because he thought I deserved better.

When I wrote “6 reasons why you may be getting knocked back”, I was referring in a way to myself. I came to those conclusions after one of such experiences. However, there was a U-turn in character or rather approach that took over my being after I wrote it. I resolved to learn from my own words. I was no longer going to keep being Mr nice guy. Karl was right. I deserved better.

I remember when I was a very young girl, I had a bad tongue. I was at the other extreme of self expression where no one’s feelings mattered but mine.You know the teenage hormonal years of self discovery. I initially used to get a buzz from verbally trashing people who caused me even the slightest bit of hurt. Well my mother had many a conversation with me on this matter. I think the one that struck me was when she said , “you know how the bible says thou shall not kill? It is not only referring to killing with a knife. The way you talk to people, you kill them with our words and you are equally as guilty”. I was struck with mortal fear. I am not sure the poor lady meant “now you have to zip your mouth when people hurt you” or, “stop speaking for yourself”. However being a virtue seeking creature as I unconsciously tend to be sometimes, I took it to the other extreme and literally stopped responding back.

You see, every time you are in a relationship where you constantly do not stand up for yourself, your feelings or your ideas (all because you do not want to hurt the next person), you are doing yourself a big injustice. By ignoring your true feelings, you are boxing yourself into an emotional corner. Repressed feelings do not disappear, on the contrary, they tend to build up feelings of resentment gradually until they get to a point where they no longer can be ignored. They most definitely explode and the worst part is that they tend to explode at the wrong time. You get to a last straw stage in a simple interaction that may or may not even be related to the person or issue and then BOOM! The screw literally falls out of your head and you unleash all the venom and anger in a what-about-me sort of way leading to overreaction. This leads to guilt and possibly endless apologies (to someone who may not really deserve the apology) that are the only way to make up for your seemingly unnecessary outburst . Do you know what this produces, further repression of future feelings as you begin to experience the fear of a possible re-occurrence of the shameful outburst you are still reeling over.

The interesting part is how the brain begins to learn this method of repressing feelings until it becomes second nature. It gets to a point where you even forget how to speak out. Or worse still, you degenerate to a point of fear (even though you may not even realise it or admit it to yourself) You keep bearing this burden until it weighs you down.

The solution is just simply starring you in the face. Stop repressing and start expressing your feelings. As soon as you can start it even with the smallest things, you are on the road to recovering your place in every relationship you enter. Contrary to popular opinion, repressing your feelings (for the sake of peace as people like to add) is not a sign of maturity. Maturity to me means; bold, grown up, coming of age. Which honestly in my books means becoming responsible for every aspect of our lives- which includes but certainly is not restricted to speaking up for ourselves as adults. Children (who should be the immature ones) tend to do this quite easily. I feel it is because they have no ability to over-analyse cause and effect. They just simply say things like ” sorry(for the polite ones), this food is tasteless” or ” I hate the way you talk and so I don’t want to play with you anymore  then, garnish the statement with pouted lips for full effect. This means that all their messages are often sent and received loudly and clearly. We can take a cue from the little ones. What maturity should do is enable us moderate our speech and sieve out rudeness, snipes and unnecessary comments which essentially distract effective communication. Maturity should not be an excuse. It should rather give us the tools we need to say what we mean and mean what we say when people upset us.

Your feelings matter. By speaking out, you are not being less of a virtuous person; you are only being fair to the relationship. If you do not speak up, how will the other party know that you are hurt, that you are offended or that you will prefer to be treated differently. No one can really see into another person’s mind except they speak or find a way to express their true feelings. It is your own responsibility as an adult to look out for yourself.

If you are like me, you worry that by speaking, you will overreact. That has an easy solution. Overreaction can happen when we speak while experiencing too much anger. You can wait till tensions are low and you have cooled off before attempting to communicate your feelings. The danger of speaking in anger also is that you risk communicating your anger instead of your feelings, thereby annoying the other party. It’s difficult to communicate your true feelings while angry . It is not totally impossible, it just needs to be practiced until complete mastery is attained. In the mean time, if tensions are high, the other person is either as angry as you are or in an unreasonable frame of mind, choosing a neutral time to communicate may be the most suitable option.

I had to desperately have a re-think about my strategy in relationships by taking a cue from the male species around me. They hardly hold any grudge and just tend to trash things out as soon as possible. My husband always says when there is no war there will be no lasting peace (which i hate to admit as true) and rightly so.

It is not an act of hatred or lack of affection to say your piece. After all if you do not speak up for yourself no one else will. People may have different opinions but I always feel better after trashing things out. It is quite hard for me to do sometimes especially when I know how it will hurt the hearer. But the truth was never meant to be tasty. No matter how you garnish it, as long as it is the truth, it will be bitter. I should not monopolise nicey-nicey in a relationship. If I am nice, It is not too bad to expect to be treated nicely in return. It is just a simple law of reciprocity but I shall paraphrase the popular quote by saying instead  “do unto me what you want me to do to you” or in Nigerian pidgin english we say “do me I do you God no go vex!”

Look at it this way, people keep making sure you do not forget the hurt you cause them. Even when you ignore theirs a million times, you will not be spared of their wrath when you near the mark how much more when you overstep it! So it’s hi time you set the boundaries. Stop taking the back seat today and speak out! Trust me, it is very liberating.

Thanks for reading!

Photo credit: Pixabay

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