I might not say anything, but that doesn't mean I don't have an opinion
I remember hearing people make comments that shocked me about politics or social issues… They said it with such aplomb, with such confidence, that I kept quiet with the little voice in my head screaming at me, “But why don’t you say you disagree?”, “Why don’t you give your opinion?” And all for what? To remain silent and end up having the conversation with myself in my head several hours later.
The problem, you see, is that I wasn’t taught to be confident in myself and what I say. Above all, I was taught that authority is always right: parents, teachers, bosses and anyone who spoke louder than me. Like many, I had a bad experience one day of saying what I was thinking deep down and the repercussions were very severe: reprimands, humiliation, and please don’t talk nonsense anymore. It soon put me off and now every time I say what I think, I tremble in anticipation and as soon as my words are just a bit harsh, I immediately feel the need to apologize. We are all seeking to be loved and valued. I’m no different. I avoid saying what I think so that I don’t get judged badly, and that people don’t distance themselves from me.
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And then, I explode with rage
By keeping it to myself and staying quiet, I undoubtedly end up exploding. I even often unload myself on those I love the most. No reserve here, I can even be extremely cruel with those I love. But this unjustified and regrettable anger is above all the result of my feeling of powerlessness. It’s an anger fed by all the “I should have said that”, which ends up cutting me off from others. The energy it demands from me is so intense that I sometimes prefer not to see certain people rather than confront them. It’s so easy to be frank when I keep quiet.
Not expressing myself seriously undermines my self-esteem. I am frustrated, I’m too nice, I even start to think that I’m being disrespected. And what about the respect I owe myself? Even if I don’t say the complete opposite of what I think and just keep my mouth shut, I’m lying to myself. And over time, I even risk what I was seeking to avoid the most: conflict. If I hide what I think at the risk of ending up frustrated, the day will come when it’s too much and in a fit of rebellion, I’ll end up raising my voice to give my true opinion, and it may be perceived badly! But let’s reassure ourselves, it’s never too late to do the right thing, and we can decide today to free ourselves from the gaze of others and learn to say things.
How can you free yourself from worrying about other people's opinions and instead say what you think?
1. Get to know yourself better
Knowing yourself: your strengths, your limits, your weaknesses, your talents. It’s a good way to free yourself from the gaze of others and to protect yourself from their critiques or judgements. We know it, you know it, we make quick judgements about other people, so don’t let them define us and take the time to think about whom we really are, in order to define ourselves. And finally, give importance to the way you look at yourself. Validation doesn’t just come from others and the way they look at you. Your opinion counts too. If you’re proud of something, don’t wait for other people to share your opinion or validate your pride. Because revealing your true thoughts, daring to speak also shows your character: the unreserved, assuming, visible person that you really are.
2. Accept you won’t please everyone
It’s often by wanting to avoid criticism that we stop ourselves from saying what we think. Have you never hidden your opinion, put your individuality aside so as not to shock or out of fear of being rejected? It’s impossible to please everyone. It sounds banal, but it’s a fact. A fact that must be taken fully into account in order to be able to finally say what we think.
3. Say yes to and accept your vulnerability
Very often, we are afraid of appearing vulnerable in front of others. By showing our weaknesses, we are afraid of appearing imperfect and, once again, being rejected. But if we don’t think about it, it is precisely by opening up to others, by being authentic, that we create deeper connections with others, moments of sharing, rich and intense exchanges. And this is still the best way to feel accepted and to be freer to say what we think.
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Editor’s note – The importance of managing emotions
It may not necessarily seem obvious, but in order not to care about the gaze of others and to dare to say what we think, we must learn to manage our emotions better. Indeed, the more quickly we tend to allow ourselves to be overcome by our embarrassment, shyness, fear, anger, excitement, etc., the more we tend to keep quiet or, on the contrary, be brutally, even nastily or cruelly frank. Saying what we think is being honest, and the aim must be honorable, sincere and come from the heart. Saying what we think with the desire to belittle, cause hurt, or simply doing it badly, without tact, digression or precaution, will only end up having negative effects.
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