Practice: Showing Up

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Lately, I’ve been noticing times when something’s really bugging me but I don’t speak up. Why don’t I say something? A few reasons:

  • Don’t want to start a conflict
  • Can’t figure out a “nice” way to say it
  • Maybe it isn’t my place
  • Don’t believe my speaking up will change anything, and therefore it’s not worth the effort

My DH offered that speaking up can simply be good practice. My reactions to that were “true” and “meh.” Poor guy, why am I dismissive of good practice? I’ll come back to that.

Good practice or not, I became aware of my attachment to a certain outcome. Maybe saying something is good practice. But when I say something and nothing the thing that I wanted doesn’t happen, I get frustrated. My “why bother?” feelings kick in. And they stop me from trying again. This felt like an important realization! What if I could say something and let go of my attachment to a particular outcome? 

That was as far as the exercise went until I saw Justine Musk‘s tweet today.

Argument doesn’t change people (good stories change people) but it helps you deepen + refine your own understanding of what you stand for.

DING went the light bulb! Her words address two areas of my struggle:

  • Changing others
  • Clarity of self expression

My story about speaking up is that “we can’t change other people. So it’s not my place / not worth it / why bother.” But people do change, sometimes nudged by outside influences. I can see how stories are way more effective than complaining.

Justine’s tweet also helps me in the “let go of my attachment” department. Speaking up is not about changing someone’s mind or winning an argument. It’s about getting clear about my own thinking and being able to express it. I do have feelings about some topics of our day (Uber-style businesses, the digital divide, income inequality) but rarely say anything. The times that I’ve tried to recently, I quickly get tongue tied and stall out. Maybe there’s something to this practice thing after all.


9 thoughts on “Practice: Showing Up

  1. You have accurately laid out an issue I’m dealing with right now. I’ve always been pretty outspoken, but lately I haven’t felt as comfortable saying what’s on my mind. Part of it is fear of upsetting the applecart that is my current, somewhat precarious professional existence, but I think the main thing is many of my long-standing friends seem to have split up into two diametrically opposed camps (I’ll leave it to you to guess what they are 🙂 ) and I can see value in the arguments of both sides. Unfortunately, some on either side are demonizing all on the other side, when these people should be allies for the long term.

    When I think of what I want to say to either side, I tend to succumb to any one – or all – of the four bullet points you’ve laid out here. I also find myself questioning whether I know anything at all . . . any longer.

    As always, thanks for a wonderful post. If I don’t explode soon, you may have given me the impetus I need to get off me bum and make some of my thoughts public again.


    • My dear friend, you are a positive role model for me in speaking up and damn the torpedoes! I feel like tensions and demonizing have escalated in our online spaces. I’ve not been one to venture there even in calmer times, and it’s so much more vehement now, making me want to run and hide even more. And yet, consuming and not speaking, a person can only take so much before taking some sort of action, whether it be speaking up, or shutting it off completely, or other. This idea of speaking and not expecting something to happen – not being attached, not looking to change a person’s mind – is useful for me. May it be so for you too Your voice is valuable and needed! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Very thought-provoking post. I spent a large portion of my early adulthood priding myself on speaking up, but I was coming from somewhat of a sanctimonious place of ‘I’m right and it’s my duty to enlighten people.’ Shockingly (note sarcasm here) — I rarely achieved what I hoped for. At some point I got pretty exhausted and learned that I had better results journaling and clarifying my thoughts and THEN selectively speaking up. I also learned that listening to the other person’s side helped me find common ground. Now, I take more of a pick-your-battles approach, and I’m much more selective about when and how I engage. I love what you said about your realization that you were attached to a certain outcome and when it didn’t go as you hoped, frustration kicked in. Oh how I get this. I also agree that speaking up is good practice, but these days I ONLY do so if I am coming from a centered place. And I absolutely agree that a great story trumps an argument any day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jenni, you have a magic power, don’t you? The power to see my original draft of this post, where I started to describe my “what’s my intention?” homework. It was assigned to me in my weekly therapy group, after throwing a few “firecrackers” into the mix – not on purpose!! – working through the aftermath, and then the therapist astutely asking “why did you bring that up?” or “what were you hoping to get from that interaction?” We laugh about it now. I don’t always remember to check my intention. Sometimes I check and am still not clear. If that happens in group, I can preface it with “this might be a firecracker” and my groupmates laugh and then I proceed. All this to say, thank you for visiting and sharing here! And I sooo resonate with your experience. I’m a fairly good listener, but my attachment and judgments are getting in the way. Maybe I’ll try more journaling!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ha! No magic power here…likely, just plenty of similar therapy groups like you described. 🙂 You bring up yet ANOTHER fabulous point — prefacing a potentially divisive statement with a warning laced with a little humor. It’s amazing how much more effective a lead-in like this can be in lightening the mood AND changing people’s minds. I might have to steal your line next time I feel myself about to unleash. I LOVE “This might be a firecracker…”

        As for the journaling…years ago I had a therapist suggest this tip before some family gathering that had all the ingredients for disaster. She reminded me that I didn’t have to engage and could journal my frustrations later. This did two things: 1) I knew I had an outlet for self-expression so I focused on the positive interactions AT the gathering and 2) the habit of journaling helped me clarify my thoughts as well as my intentions, and it helped me become less ramble-y and tongue tied when I chose to speak up in the future.

        I’ve enjoyed what I’ve seen of your blog so far and look forward to reading more. Have a great week!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ooooh…. remembering during a family gathering that I can vent later, not in the moment. What a great tip Jenni, I’m going to try and remember that for next time! Please feel free to use “firecracker” – it was bestowed upon me and I’m happy to spread the sparks around. 😉 I hope you have a great week too!

          Liked by 1 person

    • I meant to comment to Trisha’s post, and then saw yours, Jenni. Well-articulated. My story doesn’t mirror yours, and our convergent stories lead to the same outcome. Selective engagement. Potent. Couched in deep self-reflection. Informed and strengthened by the ‘other’ perspective until (hopefully) they’re one and the same.

      Thank you. Both.
      ~ H

      Liked by 1 person

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