It’s easy to give an opinion when you’re asked what you think about the latest John Lloyd movie or the most recent video scandal just gone viral, but when it comes to something touchy and personally controversial, it can get downright confusing. Sometimes, you feel it’s better to just stay out of it and not invite trouble.
Say, your boyfriend blows his top over something you feel is totally irrelevant, but you’ve already fought about it more times than you care to count. Do you really want to start another shouting match that will surely end in tears (yours) and swearing (his)? So you keep your mouth shut and just pretend nothing happened.
Or if someone shoots down your ideas during an important meeting at work and even gathers support from your boss and your co-workers as well? You just clam up and keep to yourself even if you feel they didn’t really understand your point. Maybe you didn’t explain it properly anyway. Your fault, right? Well, maybe not.
Back to Basics
Melissa Pizaña-Cruz, certified life coach and head of the parenting cluster of the Center for Family Ministries (CEFAM) of the Ateneo de Manila University says that when it comes to a fear of making yourself heard, it’s important to think of where the fear is coming from. “Maybe it’s training at home where you’re not allowed to speak up and women are not supposed to be heard, or maybe you were never really listened to,” she suggests. “Or if you were brought up in a very a strict environment. Or it could also be in your nature to be shy and not speak your mind.”
Before you can feel comfortable saying what’s on your mind, Pizaña-Cruz says you must “address your internal issues first.” If you can’t voice out your opinions because you feel they aren’t any good, she says, “there are issues at play that need to be taken care of.” You can ask yourself these questions:
Where is it coming from, this feeling that I can’t be heard?
Why do I feel I don’t have any right to speak?
Listen to yourself
If you find that there is indeed something holding you back, Herald Cruz, Pizaña-Cruz’s husband of 18 years, and certified life coach and head of the parenting cluster of the Center for Family Ministries (CEFAM) of the Ateneo de Manila University, suggests listening to your internal dialogue.
“If you think people will not listen to you, if you have that in your heart and in your mind, that will be the kind of treatment you will have from others,” says Cruz. “You have to know that who you are and what you say is also important. You have to value yourself first before others value you.”
When to say something
Sometimes, it is a good idea to keep your mouth shut. Like when people will get hurt and no good will come of it. Cruz says to first “understand if it’s your place to speak.” If your words will bring no good, then “you don’t simply say what’s on your mind.”
However, if there is a need to say something but you are too shy or afraid to do so, Cruz says, “You need to understand what your core values are. What are the non-negotiables. They are a guide or compass on how to live life. At the same time, you need to choose your battles—when to fight a battle and when to hold back and think, ‘not this time.’”
When it’s urgent
Pizaña-Cruz says women’s rights are a very big issue in the United Nations, where she works as a UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) consultant. “The UN is really encouraging more women to speak up,” she says. “A lot of abuse happens to women because some women will allow themselves to be trampled on. If there’s abuse, that’s non-negotiable because that is already against the law.”
So if you feel you have a problem saying what’s on your mind or in your heart, think about why you feel this way. Then ask yourself if it is a non-negotiable issue that affects the beliefs in your very core. If it is, that should give you the courage to speak up. Because, in the end, no one can stand up for you better than yourself.
For counseling and other inquiries, contact: Center for Family Ministries (CeFaM)?Spiritual Pastoral Center?Ateneo de Manila University Campus?Loyola Heights, Quezon City??Telefax: 426-4285?Telephone: 426-4289 up to 92?E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.