When to Say Something and When to Learn Something

speaking up

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is what it also takes to sit down and listen.” – Winston Churchill

When I first entered recovery, honesty and truth were such a big part of my beginning. In my defense, it was necessary for me to be completely honest in what I said and did – to everyone. I was pretty open to those with whom I encountered, with what I needed and what I thought. Looking back, it may have been a bit overkill, but I really set my boundaries and that was what I needed at the time to survive and make it to the next level. As the years go by, I realize it’s not so easy to simply speak out every time I have an opinion. Situations seem a little greyer, and frankly, I don’t necessarily always need to be heard. What I am learning is that there is a time to say something and alternatively, a time to learn something.

When To Speak

With the former, it is important to know our worth enough to be able to respectfully request that others treat us, our children, our home, with a base level of respect. We also may have concern for someone, a family member, a friend, even our child. It may be a time to offer our concern for their wellbeing, which may or may not be met with much openness. So, even though speaking out may be the inherently right thing to do, we cannot expect everyone to agree.

Equally, we have to be prepared that our requests may not be taken in the way we intended. So, when we make the decision to say something, it might be the last thing that is actually heard. We cannot take responsibility for how the receiver of our words reacts, but we must take responsibility for how we deliver our words. Honesty can be challenging, and yet, if done respectfully and with 100% of our truth behind it, all we can do is let the situation rest. The point in saying something is to set our own boundaries and needs, regardless if they are met with agreement.

When To Learn

However, there are the times when saying something may not be the lesson we need. It might be an opportunity for us to learn something – about someone else, about life, or more importantly, about ourselves. I do believe people, places and things are brought to us as our teachers. They teach us what we believe, what we want and equally, what we don’t want in life. These are the times that might be more challenging, as there is no verbal release of our feelings. We are not expressing to anyone how we feel, what we want, or our concerns, so we must work it through on our own.

Instead, this is a time for us to look inward, and explore what is disturbing us about the situation. Often times what bothers us so deeply about something or someone else is in turn a reflection of what we do not like in or for ourselves. And if that does not apply, maybe it is simply a lesson that people and things come and go, and it might just be time to move on, understanding not everyone will see things in the same light.


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