“If you propose to speak, always ask yourself, is it true, is it necessary, is it kind.” ~Buddha
Many of us allow other people’s opinions to dictate what we believe, value, or perceive. It’s not always easy to stand up for our beliefs and opinions when others, particularly those we care about, constantly bombard us with their views.
You might be thinking, “No, not me! This never happens to me. I’m strong in voicing my beliefs.”
At one point or another, we all conform our opinions, either to avoid confrontation or judgment or because we’re losing faith in what we feel is right.
Ask yourself, “Do I often justify what I believe after engaging in conversations with others? Am I continuously second guessing myself?” If so, you may be losing yourself.
I used to be someone who always avoided conflict with others at all costs. Needless to say, I was passive by nature, and I shied away from standing up for my beliefs.
I would avoid and distance myself from any means of voicing my opinions. In turn, I became submissive and engaged in both romantic and platonic relationships with people who were more dominating in demeanor.
While I lacked the willpower to express my own ideas, I found myself in a state of annoyance and frustration from allowing others to indirectly control my life. Feeling helpless and unaware of who I really was took a toll on my mental well-being.
I longed for the ability to express my thoughts and opinions freely. I craved the feeling of acceptance by others, without judgments being passed.
I deeply admired and looked up to my sister as a role model, one who possessed the internal strength to be truthful to herself and others, regardless of the consequences.
Sometimes my sister would discuss her issues with her friends and seek my advice, perhaps to validate if she was doing the right thing. Sometimes she wasn’t sure if she was coming on too strong and pushing others away because of her honest and strong-minded nature.
She'd often find herself in situations where she would lose friends. Perhaps her honest opinions were too much to handle.
When she would come to me in full-blown tears, asking me, “Why do my friends keep leaving? Why don’t they understand that I am just trying to help them?” I would respond to her by saying, “They don’t want to hear the truth from you, because sometimes the truth hurts.”
Friends who resent one’s openness and honesty are usually, in turn, not worthy of the friendship.
Looking back at the way I used to be led me to a conclusion. It’s not what you say to others; it’s the manner in which you say it that truly matters.
I finally realized that, although my sister and I had opposing approaches of maintaining our relationships, neither of us was necessarily wrong in the way we went about constructing them.
We often want to give genuine advice or opinions. However, we also need to understand that it’s not always easy to accept the truth. We need to find the balance and set limitations in order to maintain positive relationships.
While I had no problem in maintaining mine, I often felt repressed in terms of being expressive. In contrast, my sister’s strong-minded character eventually caused her relationships to slowly dissipate.
Over the years, I have learned that using appropriate language, word choices, and tone is the key to flourishing relationships.
Speaking constructively and delivering tactful criticism eliminates the chance to pass biases. This also creates a healthy environment and opportunity to grow.
As I've matured, I've recognized that my opinions actually matter and have the right to be heard. Having said this, I have learned that it is more effective to give an opinion or advice when it is sought.
When I engage in conversations, I always try my best to think before I speak. Then, I contemplate, “Is it worth saying? How will what I say make a difference to this person?”
If I proceed to give my opinion, I then decide, “How can I say this in such as way that it comes across as genuine, yet constructive?”
By nature, we all have the tendency to overreact; it’s important to choose our battles wisely and release the negative energy that surrounds us.
Be real; tell the truth using kind and heartfelt words. Respect will follow.
Even though telling the truth may be difficult for many people, it’s the approach that we take that allows us to earn the respect of others.
Often enough, people are so preoccupied with verbally offending others that we end up feeling as though we need to “walk on egg shells.” We may also end up saying something we didn’t originally intend.
When I was one of those people who worried about what others thought, I allowed my life to be dictated and controlled by someone else’s agenda.
I always felt obligated to adopt the views of my partners and friends, in fear of disappointing and upsetting them. I struggled to find the courage and willpower to rid myself of this imprisonment, in search of a voice, love, and passion.
Through some of my ongoing romantic relationships with over-bearing, possessive men, I have come to terms with the fact that telling the truth will not always yield a positive or expected outcome.
Still, I think that it is most important to be true to yourself. You need to be happy first before you can make others happy, and that means not self-sacrificing for unappreciative, non-reciprocating individuals.
Speaking up for what we believe and sharing our opinions can be helpful and beneficial—when it’s appropriate, kind, constructive, and consistent.
Photo by Seniju