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Tell me if you can relate to this:
You’re sitting in a work meeting, and someone says something you disagree with. You think about speaking up to share your opinion or different idea, but the little voice in your head says, “Ehh, don’t bother, it’s not worth it.” (Then later, you kick yourself when someone else shares the same idea you had.)
Or you’re talking to your mom/sister/friend/spouse/etc., and they say something that totally rubs you the wrong way. You feel hurt, annoyed, and resentful, but when you consider bringing it up with them, you immediately think, “This isn’t worth making a big deal about. Just let it go.” (Except the next time that same person gets under your skin — and they inevitably will — the resentment shows up again, and it’s even bigger this time.)
Or your manager gives you overly critical feedback on an assignment, even though you worked your ass off to meet his impossible deadline. You want to stand up for yourself, but once again you think, “What’s the point? It’s not worth it.” (But later that night, you find yourself scrolling through job listings online.)
I know it does for me.
As a recovering people-pleaser, I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately to what prevents me from speaking up, especially when I sense a brewing conflict or potentially uncomfortable conversation. I’ve heard this same phrase ringing in my own head enough times (and from enough clients, too) to feel pretty sure that I’m onto something …
“IT’S NOT WORTH IT”
I’m finding that the times when I’m least likely to speak up — which also happen to be the times when I most WANT to speak up — are when I’m worried that I’m going to create (or inflame) some kind of conflict or discomfort.
When I’m angry, hurt, annoyed, frustrated, disappointed, or in disagreement with someone, a part of me really wants to speak up. In fact, I usually have a running mental list of all the ways I want to express my thoughts, voice my disagreement, or say exactly how I’m feeling.
But as soon as I consider actually saying something, I immediately think, “Don’t bother. It’s not worth it. What’s the point?”
“It’s not worth it.” I can’t tell you the number of times that phrase has stifled my voice.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU THINK, “IT’S NOT WORTH IT”
Thinking, “It’s not worth it,” in the face of conflict is really common and normal, and it may allow you to avoid a confrontation or uncomfortable conversation … but at what cost?
Just because there’s no fight, heated argument, or awkward exchange doesn’t mean the emotions magically melt away.
In fact, living with unexpressed emotions (especially anger and hurt) can be way more toxic in the long run. Unexpressed emotions quickly turn into …
- Passive aggressiveness
Harboring those kind of emotions is like living with a constant low-grade fever that slowly drains away your energy and your natural positivity … until eventually you hardly recognize this new overly critical, touchy, anxious, resentful version of you.
In the past few years, it’s become abundantly clear to me that speaking up in the moment, even if it’s vulnerable and uncomfortable, is SO worth it to live a life without resentment.
SAY WHAT YOU NEED TO SAY (WHAT UP, JOHN MAYER?)
I’ll be the first to tell you how surprised I’ve been these past years to learn that speaking up, defending myself, disagreeing with someone, and actually engaging in confrontation instead of shying away from it … well, as it turns out, it’s actually a massive relief!
All of the things I was so scared of — everything that made speaking up feel “not worth it” — never happened. It hasn’t ruined any friendships, cost me any great opportunities, or made my body implode from the physical discomfort (although it’s certainly felt that way sometimes).
In fact, engaging in confrontation has done the exact opposite of what I thought it would do — is has vastly improved my relationships. Being honest about how I feel in the moment has opened up a depth of connection that I’d never fully experienced before. And the resentment? It’s all but gone.
Besides, even if those consequences that I’d been so scared of had happened, I’m realizing something else … something much more profound:
Expressing myself is always worth it.
I don’t need any other reason than that to speak up: Self-expression is the ultimate payoff, and it’s more than worth it.
IT IS WORTH IT
Some of you may be reading this right now thinking:
“Why is this such a big deal for you? I’ve never had trouble speaking up and engaging in a fight. In fact, it’s usually other people who are telling me ‘It’s not worth it’ because I speak up about every little thing I’m feeling!”
First of all, I have mad respect for you. I’ve always had tons of admiration for people who find it easy and natural to speak their mind in any circumstance.
But I also want to clarify one major point: This isn’t about voicing every thought or emotion you have, and it’s also not about engaging in every argument just for the sake of it.
This is about speaking up when it really does matter to you — we’re talking about a healthy balance here. So how can you tell when it is, in fact, worth it for you to speak up?
Of course, you know for yourself (better than anyone else can ever know for you) when you really need to say something, but …
Here are a few instances where I know for sure that it’s worth it for you to speak up:
- When whatever it is that triggered you is chafing up against a value of yours, like respect, compassion, honesty, equality, etc.
- When you intuitively know that you’re using “It’s not worth it” as a convenient excuse to stay in your comfort zone.
- When it’s a recurring issue with a particular person.
- When you can feel the resentment growing the longer you stay silent.
- When you really want to speak up, but the prospect of it makes your stomach turn with anxiety.
- When you feel as though staying silent is being disrespectful of yourself.
So tell me: Have you ever wanted to speak up, but thought, “It’s not worth it”? How would it make you feel to finally speak your mind? Leave a comment to let me know!
Kristen (& Rachel)
GET ON THE VIP LIST FOR OUR NEW PEOPLE PLEASING COURSE!
Getting Over People Pleasing will be open for enrollment on Tuesday, August 20th!
- This course will NOT be available 24/7. Right now, consider it a one-time thing. We may end up offering it again at some point, but likely not for another year.
- It will last for about 4 weeks, and during that time you’ll get weekly video lessons and workbook prompts.
- There will be a forum so that you, and the other members of the group, can ask us questions and share your stories.
- This course is for people who want to bridge the gap between knowing what they should be doing, and actually doing it.
- Consider this course a fun-yet-challenging boot camp of sorts! We’re going to help you heal some old wounds that keep you trapped in the need to please and get desensitized to the discomfort of things like setting boundaries, saying no, and speaking up for yourself.
- This course will be action-oriented. Yes, there will be some teaching, but everything we teach is going to be actionable. And we’re going to hold you accountable for taking that action!
- By the end, we know you’ll feel a LOT freer, calmer, more confident, and resilient.