I believe our minds are the most powerful things we have, yet each one seems to be a bit different. We all have different thoughts, ideas, values, and beliefs about the world and how we should live in it. I personally think it’s great, because the more diversity we have in our thoughts and beliefs, the more we have to learn from each other. I believe that everyone’s perspective has something valuable to offer; for the same reason, it pains me to see people not speak their minds when they may have something important to add to the discussion.
But I understand it can sometimes be difficult to say what we really think. Every individual faces social pressures to conform. And often times being ourselves requires some kind of “rebellious” behavior. Perhaps that is why I like and admire many rebels – they stand up for themselves despite the impulse to conform. I find that even when I greatly disagree with someone, I still appreciate it when they speak their minds. It’s kind of weird actually, because I find myself having more respect for people who I disagree with who at least say what they think, rather than those who I may agree with but rarely stand up for themselves
I guess life is too short to shut up and not say anything. You’re a part of this world, you experience it everyday, you must have something to say about it – so go ahead and do it. That’s the attitude I adopted when I first started writing this blog. At first I thought, “Why should anyone listen to what I say? I’m not an expert in anything.” But then I thought about it more, and I realized I had an obligation to speak my mind. I have strong beliefs about things, as I imagine everyone does, and it would do the world a disservice to not share those passions.
Diversity of human thought is a good thing
I believe the diversity of human thought is one of our greatest advantages as a species. When different minds come together and share what they believe, there is little telling what can be accomplished. Of course, our differences also fuel a lot of conflict and competition (sometimes even violence), but when done right I think we are all better off. When we learn how to understand different viewpoints, it fosters intelligence, empathy and compassion.
F. Scott Fitzgerald, American author
The more people learn to speak their minds and understand different viewpoints, the stronger we become as a society. When we can feel free to speak our minds, disagree, argue, or debate without resorting to personal insults or aggression, then I believe we have achieved a level of freedom, tolerance, and compassion that cannot be replaced.
I don’t think we will ever reach a point where everyone believes the same exact beliefs. In fact, as our society evolves, I think the diversity of ideas will only grow greater and greater. Therefore, it is required that we also expand our tolerance and compassion for these differences, especially if we want to get along and survive in the future.
The cost of speaking your mind – and why you should pay it
Of course, speaking our mind will always come with certain risks. If the diversity of ideas continues to grow, then there will always be people who disagree with us. They may even insult or threaten us when we say something that gets under their skin. But that’s a cost we might have to be willing to pay.
I’ve been writing for two years now, I’ve had plenty of people criticize me along the way. I’m not sure if it can even be avoided. Usually, I just thank them for their opinion and carry on my merry way. I know that I can’t please everyone, especially if I’m being honest with myself. Sometimes, it’s more important for me to be honest with myself than to try and meet the unrealistic goal of making everyone happy. When I learned to accept this simple truth, I found myself much more free to express myself.
Respecting others opinions makes it easier to voice your own
I’ve also noticed that when you have respect for others opinions, it becomes easier to speak your mind. If you accept the idea that everyone has their differences, and you can tolerate those differences, then you don’t have to voice your opinion with the intent to persuade others. You can just voice your opinion to share what’s on your mind – but there is no pressure to get everyone else to agree. As a result, you are often more willing to put yourself on the line.
End on a good note
Regardless of what happens during your interactions with others, there is always an opportunity to end it on a good note. Maybe the conversation gets too heated, you both yell at each other, exchange insults, maybe even spit in each other’s faces. People’s animalistic instincts can sometimes kick into gear when they are talking about something they are really passionate about. It’s not pretty, but it can happen.
Despite it all, it’s usually better to forgive and let go rather then hold life-long grudges. Maybe you said something that really upset someone, maybe they said something back that really upset you. But usually disagreements are not as serious as we make them out to be in the moment. Take a step back, remember that people have different perspectives about things, accept it, and let it go.
You deserve to take up space
If you find yourself being too reserved most of the time, and not expressing yourself when you really want to, remember that you deserve to take up space every now and then. You have ideas just like everyone else, and there is no logical reason that everyone should take up the spotlight but you. You have an absolute right to speak what is on your mind, when you so choose to speak it. Don’t let others deter you from saying something that you think is important.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes every now and then
Occasionally we are going to speak our mind and instantly regret it. That is another risk we have to be willing to take when engaging in free speech. We don’t always know how someone will react, we also don’t always know the best way to communicate our message, but good communicators are willing to put themselves out there and possibly get some backlash. It’s only in those moments where we test our boundaries and fail where we learn how to adjust our speech so that it is more effective in the future. But if we never test those boundaries, then our speech remains limited and we never learn how to improve it.
Pay attention to your verbal cues
Sometimes the words we use are correct, but we say it in a way that still irritates others. Remember, how you speak is just as important as what you say – and much of our communication is dependent on our tone, volume, pitch, and the pace at which we speak. Become more mindful of these characteristics of speech whenever you engage in an interaction, and you will greatly improve your communication.
Know when to shut up
I know it’s ironic that I’m telling you to “shut up” in a post about how to speak your mind, but there are times when it is appropriate to end an interaction. Sometimes you can tell when nothing good will come from a conversation. Maybe your values are too different, so it’s better to just let it go and not share your thoughts with someone – especially if it may jeopardize civil discourse in the future. Remember, it’s not necessary to put your 2 cents in on every topic; there is a lot of wisdom in someone that knows when to just be silent.
Finding your own balance
In the end, I don’t want it to sound like I’m telling you when you should speak and when you shouldn’t. That is a balance that will be different for everyone, and there is no way I can discern what’s good from what’s bad, because it depends on so many different factors. You have to explore that for yourself.
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