Sunday Edition #13: My Column in Yellow
Why is it so hard to say how we really feel?
I always promise the utmost confidentiality to the readers who write to me but I’m going to break that rule this one time and tell you who submitted this question… It was me.
Now, you’re probably wondering how I’m going to answer my own question if I’ve rarely been successful admitting how I feel, causing everything I never said to haunt me for my entire XX years on this earth (did you really think I was going to tell you how old I am?).
Well, if we don’t at least try, we will never move forward. So… here it goes.
I’ve always been someone who avoids conflict. I think many of us can relate to that. I dance around people’s feelings dodging everything that might cause someone distress or could make them reject and disapprove of me.
I choose silence over confrontation.
And guess what, it has only ever made these situations much worse than if I would have just come out and said what I really wanted and needed to say. Go figure.
Turns out I’m not the only one that can’t seem to say what needs to be said. I surveyed my Instagram followers asking “What do you wish you would have said?” The response was overwhelming. Each answer was an arrow into my heart because it was all so relatable. Looks like we all have unsaid words stuck in the back of our throats.
Why is this such a common problem???
Because we are all so caught up on the imagined outcome of what might happen if we make ourselves vulnerable to another person. This isn’t just with a romantic partner, it could also be family members, coworkers or friends. In all areas of our lives, we are afraid to take the risk of speaking our truth even if saying it could make things better.
Yes, sometimes it will work out in our favor and sometimes it won’t. But will the world end if your crush doesn’t like you back? If a coworker doesn’t agree with your opinion? Or if you tell a family member how their actions hurt you and they disagree? No, it won’t. The Earth will keep spinning and life will move on. Maybe things will be initially uncomfortable or embarrassing but at least you won’t have nightmares about “what if?” each night. It will allow you to move on.
Feelings are something we all have but for some unknown reason society has decided having them is “weak.” So we put on our armour made of stoic silence and pretend everything is just fine and we aren’t dying on the inside. The pressure builds and suddenly you are saying everything you held in for four years at a volume louder than appropriate for a West Village French Restaurant.
This past week I decided I’m going to actively commit to breaking my silence. I’m going to speak up and express what I need and want. Honestly, it terrifies me but I’m tired of sacrificing for the imagined benefit of others.
How will I do this? Hell if I know… but each time I’m in a moment when words and feelings come to me with the need to be expressed, I will pause, find courage and speak.
And maybe… just maybe they want to hear what I have to say.
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My Life in Yellow is not a licensed psychologist or health care professional and the advice within this column does not replace the care of psychologists or other healthcare professionals. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult a health/medical professional. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment because of something you have read here.