Several of my clients this week are experiencing the negative symptoms that come when we don’t say what needs said. Our bodies don’t like holding the energy of “calling b.s.” when we neglect to do so, or of stepping over something that we needed to say. This can manifest as headaches, anxiety, irritation, stomach upset, or other physical tension. It also results in behaviors like overwork (when we do what we’d tried to delegate or what colleagues have failed to complete), contortions (when we have to go out of our way to avoid that person we need to say something to), and problems in other relationships (when we complain to third parties or take our frustrations out on them).
The solution to all of these is simple, though it’s seldom comfortable. We’ve got to say what needs sayin’ (That’s a line from a country song. If it weren’t, I’d have left that last “g” in there), or the problems will continue to multiply. I know that you probably consider yourself a straight shooter. But I’m also betting that you do your best not to create waves when it’s not necessary, and that, like many of my clients – and myself and Sara at times – you err on the side of stepping over those wave-making topics. Here’s how you know when you’ve done that:
- You find yourself annoyed with someone you really care about and like
- You start to feel resentful, put-upon, or condescending (yes – this is always a sign you’re not saying what needs said – even if what needs said is “you’re fired” or “I’m not going to continue investing in this relationship”)
- You find yourself saying or thinking “I can’t say ____”
- You’ve been angry or disappointed with someone for more than a week and haven’t told them what they could do to change it
If you think about it, you probably have your own signs. What are they? Is there a conversation you need to have in the near future? No promises here: it might be uncomfortable, and one conversation will likely not fix everything. But having it is a positive step forward, and the very first step will likely start to reduce the cost of the unsaid for you.