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Speaking Your Mind – Don’t be Scared to Have an Opinion

From cancer to anxiety disorders – one of the most prevalent killers in life stems from stress. And where does this stress come from? It comes from inside of you. Bottling up emotions and feelings become a routine part of adulthood as we try to tread the line between being politically correct and accepted by others. In most parts of your life, there is a good chance that you only speak half your mind, and that you save a lot of frustration, anger and disappointment inside your head to avoid conflict. The problem is that eventually, (and always) this will come back to bite you in the butt. It can be tricky to find a way to remain true to your feelings and to let others know what you are thinking without rocking the metaphorical ship of causing an argument or strife between people. Speaking your mind is an important aspect of living an authentic and healthy life! It is also instrumental in ensuring that your bottled up emotions do not become the beginning of your demise both mentally and physically.

Some people who are predisposed to being insecure or who aren’t assured of themselves have a tendency to hold more of their feelings in than those that exude self-confidence. The preconceived notion is always that the person being the most honest, who seems to speak their mind without much of a filter and who always lets others know their opinion is a jerk (or a bitch!) While their delivery may seem harsh, the reality is that they are putting themselves and their wellbeing first in life, and aren’t leaving a conversation wishing they had said things, or worried that they didn’t get their message across.

In life, our relationships with others shape how well we live and how happy we are. If you are always biting your tongue out of fear that you will offend someone, or that you will be perceived as pushy, or bitchy – then you are internalizing these emotions. Just because you don’t share them with others, doesn’t mean they don’t go away. In fact, researchers from Psychology Weekly believe that people who bottle up their emotions actually drag out stressful situations longer than need be, and end up loathing themselves for their inability to speak up.

Stress is a serious health hazard. It predisposes you to nearly every illness in life because when you are under your stress your body creates a dangerous cocktail of hormonal reactions that affect your immune system. Essentially, you live day to day in fight or flight mode, which puts you at risk for many illnesses such as high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, anxiety disorders, infections, inflammatory diseases and even things like cancer. At some point, you have to ask yourself if being silent about the little things your spouse does on a daily basis that irritate you are worth you risking your health? Wouldn’t it just be easier to ‘get things off your chest,’ and speak your peace,’ rather than internalize your feelings? Especially since you know that the effects of keeping things bottled up will only end up hurting your health and wellbeing in the long term?

For those of you who tend to keep things bottled up, it is good to practice being more assertive. You might want to start out by standing in a mirror and pretend that you are talking to your neighbor, spouse, child, or boss. Say what you have to say – using both your words and body language that shows you mean business. This way, when you get in a face-to-face situation, you will be prepared with a dialogue that you have rehearsed. You can also use a pen and paper to unload some of your frustrations. It doesn’t really matter if you write a letter to someone else, or simply choose to write the letter and burn it. The important thing is that you are releasing the feelings from the inside out, and therefore releasing stress as well. Standing up to other people, and speaking your mind rather than remaining inwardly resentful and taken advantage of by others can go miles in improving your self-confidence as well. The more you practice being honest with your emotions, the better you will feel in the long run. And yes, it will feel uncomfortable at first – but with practice, you will find that it’s much easier to be honest with yourself and with others.

One of the best rules of thumbs to venting your frustrations rather than holding them in is to follow the 1, 2, 3 rule. Essentially, when you feel that your voice needs to be heard, or that someone has slighted you, or you are in disagreement or irked with someone else – you simply take one simple deep breath, count slowly in your head from 1 to 3, and then speak your mind. The 5 seconds that it takes to do the 1, 2, 3 rule helps you to center your thoughts so that you can truly speak to the other person without over reacting or exploding. And, it gives you 5 seconds to get your courage up to stick up for yourself. This should be done any time you feel like you are in a confrontational situation, or when you innately feel that someone is disrespecting you. When you speak, be clear with your words and make sure you don’t use a lot of fillers such as, “I’m sorry if this hurts your feelings, “ or “I don’t mean to offend you, “ which only set the other person up to be defensive. Instead, state your case in as little words as possible, as directly as possible.

Eventually, you will find that others will respect you more when you speak your mind. They will also stop taking advantage of you, and see you as a person of worth. And most importantly, you will begin to recognize that your feelings matter as well and your own self worth with improve. Additionally, dealing with the frustrations of life as they arise, will ensure that you aren’t a ticking time bomb of health problems just waiting to erupt.

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