The Art of Speaking Up and Taking Charge of Your Life

Both men and women have to learn to speak up in order to take charge of their lives and cultivate meaningful relationships! This applies to school, work, business, family, and social events.

Mostly we use the same reasons for not speaking up, such as:

* I don't want to rock the boat  - I want to keep the status quo
* I don't want others to have any emotions - be upset, scared, hurt, mad
* I don't want to hear what they have to say because I'm angry and when I'm angry, I'm convinced that my way is clearly the correct way
* I want to avoid conflict at all cost
* I don't want to be judged

But we pay a high price for stuffing it - by going silent, stonewalling, sulking, and withdrawing. We find ourselves at the mercy of the moods and bad behavior of others. In addition, and more importantly, we lose our joy, love, and peace -- the cornerstones of Attitude Reconstruction.

Where's my joy? Lost because I failed to honor myself by speaking up. I'm unhappy because I've sacrificed speaking my truth. 

Where's my love? Instead of feeling connected and being part of the collective energy flow, I'm a million miles away. I feel isolated and different. 

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Where's my peace? This moment doesn't feel safe. I'm feeling anxious and defensive.

An Example

Here's a good example that illustrates the prescription I'm offering for how to speak up successfully. During a session recently, a wife was sitting on the couch with her husband. She was trying to share her health concerns with him. At her first pause, he started giving her his recommendations for a cure.

I leaned forward and said to her: "And when he's giving you his opinion, and that's the last thing in the world you want, with the sweetest most loving voice you can muster, say 'Honey, I just want to be listened to for a few minutes right now."

I continued to coach her by telling her that the key is to say it lightly and repeatedly until he stops and refocuses on what she is saying.

And what did the gal on the couch say after all that? "That would be new for me!" At an early age she'd learned to cope by going into her "serious brooding" mode and distancing herself. Her husband shared that he hated it when she did that.

Five Tips for How to Speak Up Effectively

1. Speaking up doesn't mean you get to hold onto the microphone and talk for as long as you want. Good communication and feeling connected has got to be shared fifty-fifty. Half the time, speak about yourself. The other half, listen lovingly to understand what the other is saying.

2. Talk about yourself and what's going on for you. This isn't "listen to me while I tell you about you." For both or all people involved, the focus is you sharing about yourself. That's how feelings of closeness arise. Conversely, when we give others unsolicited advice, we're traipsing around in someone else's territory without permission. This sets the stage for wars and animosity.

3. If someone interrupts you after you've stated you just want to be listened to (old habits die slowly), gently but firmly remind them that this is the time for them to just listen. Don't acquiesce and let them continue or you'll send the message that you don't mean what you say.

4. If your listener reacts with intense anger, simply say that this doesn't seem like a good time for you to share, so you'll revisit your topic at a more neutral time. It's hard to get good reception when someone is not open to hearing, so change the topic but remember you'll need to speak up sometime so as not to sacrifice your well-being.

5. When you've finished what you want to say, you can solicit impressions, feelings, suggestions, or feedback, IF (and only if) you want them.

The Benefits of Speaking Up 

The biggest benefit is that we no longer feel like a victim and take personal responsibility for creating the quality of life we desire.

What we all really want in our social relationships, especially with family members, is to feel good about ourselves, to feel connected/share/feel part of a team, and know we're safe in our own little tribe.

I call these innate desires the Ultimate Attitudes. One attitude is associated with each of the three emotions -- joy, love, and peace. When we experience joy, we know that we are worthy no matter what. When feeling love, we know that we are all the same and accept our differences. And when feeling peace, we feel unshakably calm and rooted in our true essence. These are the three ultimate attitudes.

When the other person has coaxed you to talk or you finally speak up about something you know you've been avoiding, more joy, love, and peace await.

We all just want to be understood, aka listened to - to be seen for "us" as a worthy being.  As scary as it can seem at first, I guarantee that speaking up will bring copious rewards and breakthrough moments. Be bold and give it a try. You will be more authentic and your relationships will deepen. You will find out who is on your side.

Here are your magic words to set the stage for you to speak up without interference:

"I just want to be listened to for a few minutes right now."

©2018 by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.
All Rights Reserved.

Book by this Author

Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life
by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.

Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.With practical tools, real-life examples, and everyday solutions for thirty-three destructive attitudes, Attitude Reconstruction can help you stop settling for sadness, anger, and fear, and infuse your life with love, peace, and joy.

Click here for more info and/or to order this book.

About the Author

Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T., author of: Attitude ReconstructionJude Bijou is a licensed marriage and family therapist (MFT), an educator in Santa Barbara, California and the author of Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life. In 1982, Jude launched a private psychotherapy practice and started working with individuals, couples, and groups. She also began teaching communication courses through Santa Barbara City College Adult Education. Visit her website at

* Watch an interview with Jude Bijou: How to Experience More Joy, Love and Peace

* Watch video: Shiver to Express Fear Constructively (with Jude Bijou)

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