Speak Your Mind to Relieve Frustration

Speak Your Mind to Relieve Frustration

by Esther on 18 juli 2011

I’ve been feeling frustrated lately for not being able to speak my mind. Or rather, not choosing to do so.

You see, thank God I live in a free country and have the ability to say how I feel, when I want to and how I want to.

But I often don’t, because I’m too afraid of other people’s reactions.

I don’t want to hurt others, make them feel uncomfortable, lose business, be yelled at, or simply be misunderstood.

So I refrain from expressing my full identity.

And it comes with a price.

Holding Back

We are conditioned to be good citizens, to say please and thank you, to treat others as we’d like to be treated.

Throughout our whole lives, we learn to behave according to societal norms. I have always considered that normal and even desirable.

Growing up in a world where the internet plays a huge role has accelerated my good girl behavior. Reputation is everything, even more now that I have my own business which I run online 95% of the time.

I find myself constantly holding back, being polite, smiling with every message and wrapping any dissatisfaction in a cushion of hospitality. I’m starting to feel like a Qantas Air stewardess!

And I say bullshit.

I want to wear my heart on my sleeve again like I did years ago.

So I’m gonna shake things up a bit. Whether you like it or not: here’s what I have to say right now.

Venting to Express My Identity

To Biffy Clyro’s Simon Neil: you’re the sexiest man alive.

To the pesky accountant trying to win my business over and over again: fuck off.

To my Skype friend: you have no idea how much I adore you.

To my Chilean friends: you have no idea how much I miss you.

To my parents: hey, I have guys as friends. THAT’S OK.

To my grandfather: I’m sorry for not visiting you enough and so grateful you’re still alive.

To my aunt: you’re stupid for not letting me see my cousin.

To my cousin: I want to pay you a surprise visit.

To my mother-in-law: you should tell the truth before it’s too late.

To my laptop: please live forever.

To the hospital: I’m terrified of the future.

To the future kid: will you ever come into our lives?

To Chris Brogan: I respect you, but you don’t own Google+.

To a lot of people: you’re so fake.

To Google Analytics: I check you more often than my inbox.

To the phone: after all these years, using you still scares the shit out of me sometimes.

To the emo kids: I’m jealous of you all.

To the Lord: I’m a bad Christian.

Quit Your Whining, Aerie

You’ve held back enough. Stop being afraid of hurting others, of making them angry or losing your professional image. Start saying every word you think, every frustration you feel.

Truly express who you are.

You’ll lose contacts and followers. Your neighbors may raise an eyebrow. And yes, people will hate you for stepping on their toes.

But that’s their problem.

You’ll be free.

You’ll live.

What are you holding back? Why?

  • Anoniem

    I love this Esther! Too many times we speak as we think others would like to hear us speak.
    I sincerely hope he or she will come into your lives!

    • Thanks so much Emiel! I’m really going to try and do it this time: lose the fear, say what I think. I’m so tired of playing nice. Thank you for that wish, too. No luck so far…

  • What a graceful constructive rant! Leaving a job to starting a business online, you have to play nice, thank everyone for sharing. It’s frustrating and draining at times. You feel trapped within another cycle. I hope you feel better. You expressed what a lot of people feel but was afraid to do it.

    • A “graceful constructive rant” – that’s exactly it! So happy I got my message across :-) I do feel some relief after writing this down. Now it’s a matter of actually telling people these things, because not all of them will read them here and I have so many more truths to speak.

      Thanks a lot for commenting, appreciate it!

  • Hi Esther, great post! I really have to speak my mind like this myself… and soon! I’ve noticed that I tend to view the world a lot like you do. I’m still a bit surprised about us being so alike. I’ve only met you a few weeks ago, but I already feel like I’ve made a good friend.

    Good luck with actually telling people these things in person! If you need help practicing, just let me know :)

    • Thanks man, you know I feel the same about you. In case you weren’t sure: you’re the Skype friend I mentioned…

      And please do speak up and help others do the same. I’ve noticed how the frustration and tension build up, and for what? I don’t want my daily life to be ruled by fear and walk on eggshells. It’s a journey for sure, like I won’t easily walk up to my aunt and tell her how I feel, but I’m hoping to get there step by step.

  • Jan kees nentjes

    Hi. Let’s give it a try. In English, that is.

    I was wondering: speaking your mind. What do you mean by that? Do your parents read this? Do your mother-in-law and your aunt read this? Do you want to get things off your chest, just by saying them? Or do you want to talk to the people directly, hoping they’ll listen and change? The things you write are honest (funny too, sometimes) but does writing them on your site get you anywhere? I recognize your struggle.
    To me it’s easy to speak my mind about the neighbour’s car that’s blocking our parking. To my wife! To talk to my neighbours about it, that’s a different story. Stupid. I discovered that when someone told me about the circle of concern and the circle of influence (you know, the Covey-stuff). I still think it’s hard sometimes to step up to a person and tell them what I think, but I do think that’s the best way. And I think that tact can come in handy sometimes… Honesty is good, but there are a lot of ways to tell people what you think.

    • Hi Jan Kees! Your English is great so I wouldn’t worry about it!

      Great questions you ask there. This post started as a way to get these frustrations off my chest. But that only helps for a part, since as you point out the real deal is going up to these people and tell them how I feel. My parents probably will read this, the other family members probably won’t. Obviously (as with the example of your wife versus the neighbours), it matters who you’re talking to and how you do it.

      Now tact is something that I use a lot. Sometimes it’s just necessary. I know I can be rather harsh in my comments and I never aim to hurt someone else’s feelings. So looking at it that way, it’s about getting the message across and doing it in a softer voice. On the other hand, too much cushioning and playing safe can prevent truly saying something. If I wrap up a serious message too nicely and with too many polite smiles, it may not even shine through anymore. Maybe this tale is just the beginning of rethinking how I speak to others – to whom I say things, what I say and how I say it.

      Thanks for taking the time to write out your comment, I really appreciate it :-)

      • Jan Kees Nentjes

        Okay. I see. And I recognize a lot. I learned it the hard way. Not speaking my mind enough led to a big crisis in my life. Not saying what you think, is in fact not showing who you are.
        Rethinking how to speak to others – I like that. I need that to. A couple of years ago, I learned about metacommunication. It helped me a lot. Just by introducing what you are going to say, you will gain more. For example: “I think you are not going to like what I’m about to say to you, but…” You can be very honest that way. People in some strange way tend to react the opposite way of what you are saying you expect them to do… (is that still a sentence). Anyway, I think you know what I mean…

        • I totally agree with you that not speaking up hides who you are. Sorry to hear you’ve had to learn that the hard way. That’s a tough lesson…

          I think the hard part of introducing your message is the fact you’re already filling in what the other person will think. I know I do this a lot, although I try not to. What if you say “You’ll probably disagree with me, but…” and you tell them and they do agree with you? Or you think they will be angry while they’re not? Or worse, they do get angry but they smile, play nice and don’t dare to tell you! Like you say, their reaction might not be what you expect. In that context, can metacommunication/introducing still help?

          And then we haven’t even talked about body language, tone of voice, eye contact… Communication is complex. Probably worth writing a few more IdentiTales about :-)

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  • Myrkrin

    I feel the exact same way. I have never been able to FULLY speak my mind for as long as I can remember. I don’t know if I have ever been able to. Seeing this gives me hope, just knowing that there are other people with the same problem. I know people always say that there will always be someone else in the same boat as or something along those lines but it feels so nice to actually see someone you don’t know explain exactly how you feel as the way they feel. It’s refreshing to say the least. I have been getting better about actually speaking my mind but after holding back for my whole life it’s quite hard. Though after seeing this, maybe I’ll have some extra push

    • I’m so grateful for your words, Myrkrin! There are probably many, many more of us who feel the same way & I’m happy that sharing my feelings is helping you take the next step.

      It’s not easy, nor will it ever be. I mean, things didn’t change overnight for me after writing this tale, either. I know I still hold back & am still afraid – to hurt others, to make them feel bad, to make them angry, to have them judge me as ridiculous, all of that stuff. I guess it’s about taking baby steps. If there’s something really bugging you that you haven’t dared to tell the person it refers to, first try articulating it to yourself in the mirror. Then maybe write it down in a safe place (e.g. password-protected file) where you know you’ll be the only one reading it. Or write them a letter but don’t send it, burn it in the fireplace. See if this helps relieve your feelings a bit, then move forward. Try to really talk to them over coffee. Or you could send them an email, a letter or call them on the phone.

      I can imagine it’s hard to start expressing yourself more if you haven’t done that in all your life, but it’s worth it. It makes more of your personality shine through and I believe in most cases, telling people how you feel will draw them nearer instead of pushing them away. And when they do take offense, they probably didn’t add much positivity to your life anyway.

      Good luck & bless you!

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  • Dominic Warjri

    I am 33 years and all these years i have been trying to be nice. I wanted people to like me. I dont speak my mind. i found that I what I wanted to say and what I say is completly different. so frustrated.

    • Esther

      Hi Dominic, I can imagine you’re frustrated and it can be hard to turn this around. I bet people will be shocked when after years of trying to please everyone, all of a sudden you speak up to them! But maybe you can ease them into it by doing it gradually. Or even better: bring up the subject, tell them you’ve been holding back for too long and would really like to change that habit. In any case, I wish you best of luck with it because it’s not always easy.