“Ask for what you want. Give other people the opportunity to say ‘yes.’ Stop saying ‘no’ for them. “ ~Roger Ellerton
I never realized until very recently exactly how hard it’s been for me to speak up for my needs. To ask for what I require and want. I honestly don’t know how I’ve navigated through life.
Let me rephrase that: I’ve managed life by being very passive, ignoring my own desires. Then that small grain of resentment would build into frustration, and I would explode.
I became a fiery and angry woman. I expressed my needs in a destructive manner, ranting and raving and writing emotional emails and text messages. It’s no wonder people didn’t take me seriously or listen!
“Tammy’s having a freak out,” they’d say, or, “Tammy’s in a mood.”
This only compounded my anger and frustration.
What a vicious cycle I was living. Inner peace was difficult when I couldn’t ask people for what I required. I’m not talking about needs like asking for the salt across the table. I’m talking about emotional needs, financial needs, needs in the workplace and in relationships.
If I was speaking up on the behalf of someone else, that was easy for me. It just wasn’t easy for me to express my needs.
This revelation about this pattern has become crystal clear over the past few weeks, and more so the past few days.
Hubby and I have renovations being done, with a big monetary investment. The tiling was not acceptable. There were big gaps. Some were not aligned properly. Some were jutting out over others. It was not flush. It was not up to our expectations or in alliance with the money we paid.
Something had to be said. I work from home, so I’m the one to communicate our dissatisfaction. A fear came over me. I felt physically sick. I didn’t want to hurt the tiler’s feelings.
He’s a nice young man and is very pleasant to chat with. However, the work wasn’t up to standard. How could I say this? My goodness, how my stomach churned, and my head began to ache.
I didn’t have time to be passive (which is my normal pattern—to let things slide). This is a building site, and if I wait, it will be much too late and we’ll be stuck with shoddy work. I had to speak up.
This broke my lifelong pattern of suppressing my emotions, needs, and desires. With no anger, resentment, or bitterness built up, my communication was much more relaxed, loving, and friendly. I was able to write initially and then discuss our concerns, in a very amicable and approachable manner.
Although I was nervous and anxious, time restraints forced me to take immediate action to remedy the situation. What a beautiful lesson from the Universe.
Needless to say, because I was able to bring up our issues and concerns lovingly and at the moment the problem arose, they were resolved quickly. Can you imagine if I’d waited until I was so angry and upset that I exploded?
Can you imagine how the people would have reacted if I fell into my usual pattern of waiting until I crack? I know from experience that it would not have been friendly or helpful. It would have spiraled out of control with everyone feeling negative and horrible.
What insight for me! I never realized my issues came back to me being unable or unwilling to speak up for what I need.
I surmise this comes from observing my mother growing up, who is a meek lady who’d much rather go without or put up with stuff to keep the peace. I also observed my father who is volatile and more aggressive in nature. If things go wrong, his first reaction is anger, with a lot of swearing and cursing.
Neither of these is the best model for coping with life, so I’ve developed my own way, which hasn’t served me well.
The Universe has given me a clear and concise lesson. It’s one that I’ve had many times over and failed to learn. The amount of incidences I can reflect upon, and link to my inability to speak up for a need that wasn’t being met, is staggering. Thank goodness the Universe is patient. I’ve grappled with outbursts for years.
I know I will overcome this issue. I will speak up lovingly, at the moment something is annoying me or not serving a need. I also know that the Universe will provide me with many occasions to put into practice my newfound wisdom just to show me how far I’ve come.
We are all capable of speaking up, and even the meekest person must learn to do it.
When you suppress your true feelings, they don’t disappear or go away; they transform into something else. For me, they transform into explosive anger. Other people’s suppressed emotions manifest into depression, anxiety, or some other physical illness.
A dear friend of mine gets mouth ulcers when she’s holding back her true opinions and not voicing them. It’s not healthy to “keep the peace” at all costs, and why should you?
You are worth it, and you deserve things to be right for you. Speaking up for your needs does not make you a difficult person. It means you believe in yourself and know that you deserve better than what you are receiving.
Photo by Any Rennie