If you don’t speak now, you’ll hate yourself later

Speak up.

The number of times I have heard that command and done nothing about it is the exact number of times I have lived to regret it.

Many of us introverts choose to not speak up when we believe it’s not in our best interest and could suffer as a consequence. How could it not be in our best interest? Maybe we believe others will dislike what we have to say, maybe we feel we will embarrass ourselves or maybe we think we have little to offer. Nonetheless, not speaking up – after we have been given the freedom to do so – puts us in the position of appearing weak and insignificant. And if others don’t see that result, we do. Especially when we don’t speak up.

Speaking up is something we introverts need to re-frame, especially because peace of mind is so important to us.

When we are invited to speak and then turn down the invitation, we may experience momentary safety, but we also cannot dismiss the question, “what if I had spoken up?” We ruminate on this endlessly. We hate that once again we have weakened, not because others will judge us, but because we already have. We observe others who speak up and tell ourselves that the anxieties they go through we would have had as well, but we cannot let go of the fact that at least others have taken the opportunity. We said no to it. The only way we can prove our abilities is to say yes.

We learn how to speak effectively, consider the times we may be able to prove ourselves, and then just after someone turns to us with, “What do you think?” (that golden opportunity to prove that, yes, we do actually think, we do actually pay attention, we do actually know) we are left in the precipice of accepting or rejecting the moment to speak.

Peace of mind suddenly becomes taking the opportunity to prove ourselves. Peace of mind becomes proving ourselves to ourselves, as much as it is proving ourselves to others. This opportunity to speak up is the moment we have been looking for – peace of mind. Without taking the opportunity, we hate ourselves.

But saying yes to speaking gives us the chance to get closer to that thing we know we actually are capable of. Confidence. Despite what we are asked to share. Despite how we feel about those we are with. Despite how we feel about ourselves. We have always known we are confident individuals, able to think, able to observe, and able to pause and gather ourselves together.

What most introverts want is peace of mind. We want to feel valued and to understand. We want calm and distance. We want to recharge and to find meaning.

Feeling valued comes from the responses of those around us. As we share, we look for the head nods, the engagement, the approval and the affirmation of thought. When we don’t get these things, usually it is because we haven’t spoken up, enough. So now we look for the opportunities.

Feeling calm comes from being thoughtful, from preparation, from testing our ideas and from testing ourselves for handling how we respond in front of others. Then we gain peace of mind after learning the outcome of our sharing, which pieces were meaningful and relevant and which were off-base. We begin rehearsing, recording ourselves in rehearsal, seeking feedback while rehearsing. We observe body language when others speak and apply what we notice to ourselves.

Each time we say yes to speaking we assess our growth, our slip-ups and angle for other occasions to prove ourselves and relate to what is important to others. Soon we introverts realize, if we say no to speaking, we will hate ourselves. We honor the invitation as well as the invitee, we appreciate the chance to speak as well as the chance to connect and truly enjoy discovering our value while we seek the thoughts and ideas of others.

Conversation and learning must be meaningful to us introverts. That’s why as we mature as speakers, we gain peace of mind.

 

 

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On September 15th, 2014, posted in: Uncategorized by