To speak about courage is not so hard. I’ve been writing about courage in this blog since the year started. But to speak about your own courage, your own fears and your personal journey…those are much harder. It takes guts to share personal stories to the public, whether in your blog or a different platform.
I am deeply touched whenever a blogger would share -and allow me to reblog it here- about such stories. Thank you, Maria, for sharing your own “long journey to overcome fear”.
Her story brings to light another common fear, something I also battled with in my younger years –the fear of speaking up. This covers a wide range of scenarios, including but not limited to:
- Speaking up to a large crowd. Quick trivia: public speaking is the #1 fear. It seems strange that people would rather die than speak in public, but it’s real…and relatable.
- Speaking up for yourself. To stand up for yourself, your beliefs, your opinions, your cause. This kind of courage gave birth to many of our heroes, saints, and advocates and other icons in our history books.
- Speaking up to someone. These are the little moments in our everyday life when we are confronted by someone. Usually we are unprepared that it is only after such encounters do we realize what we should have said something better, that we should have said something at all.
I’d like to focus on the 3rd fear –the fear to speak up to someone. This is a basic fear but powerful if we allow it.
- This fear breeds bullies. Bullies thrive because, in our silence and surrender, we allow them to continue to overpower us. I am aware that there are so many other angles and levels in bullying, but the fear of speaking up to someone intentionally hurtful is at the base of it. I know because at one point I was bullied too.
- This fear nurtures hatefulness. Bottled up feelings and the regrets of “I should have said that.” are eventually vented, sometimes unconsciously, in hateful words and negative behaviors.
- This fear destroys relationships. How many times have we ended a friendship or disconnected a family tie all because we couldn’t say what we wanted to say right at the beginning? These “non-confrontational” acts, we justify by claiming it’s because we are peace-loving people and we don’t want to make a big deal of something or we don’t want to shake up a good relationship or the other person didn’t mean to offend. Avoiding confrontations does not necessarily eliminate resentments. When we don’t speak up to a friend about how he/she has hurt us, we become resentful deep inside. Until one day, we just walk away. And we never even gave the other person a chance.
Like Maria, I have learned that one way to work on this fear is preventive preparation. Sometimes, we just don’t speak up because we are not prepared. Over the years of replaying scenes in my head, I have learned to practice my lines until I didn’t have to. If someone says such-and-such, I will respond with this and this. Believe me, this ‘preparedness’ has saved me from a lot of regrets and repressed resentments. I learned that such open communication makes for authentic relationships, and happier friendships.
Thank you, Maria, for sharing your story.