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Hope Forward: Surviving and Thriving through Emotional Pain: Nothing to Say (Everything to Say, actually)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Nothing to Say (Everything to Say, actually)

There are times when things seem so bleak that we think we have nothing to say. Often, when we think or feel or believe that we have nothing to say, it's because, in fact, we have everything to say. Perhaps we just don't have the right ears to hear it, or we are fearful of not being understood, or of being misunderstood. Maybe we are afraid that we won't get the right words out, or in the right tone, or with the right message. Maybe its because we have experienced being told we are wrong, or we have experienced being dismissed or diminished or disrespected. Perhaps we feel hopeless that our words will not matter or make the desired impact. Maybe we are not at all sure what impact we would like them to make.

Fear, frustration and fury often lurk beneath the surface of "nothing to say." Sometimes, we have the idea that we if say what we want to say it will cause harm, or more harm, or will create a distance rather than a closeness. Of course, this is true at times. Hence the old adage "Does it have to be said? Does it have to be said now? And does it have to be said by me?"

And another sage saying "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. Don't say it mean." These are handy ideas, but sometimes we don't know what we mean. We need to talk things out a bit first in order to figure out what we mean. And sometimes we do sound mean, when we are angry, impulsive or emotionally seeking to lash out at someone who has hurt or frustrated us.

So how do we choose the right words, the right ears, the right time or place? When do we say what we need to say? When do we wait?

A few things, perhaps, can help. First, it helps to know what the goal is. What is it we are seeking? Second, it helps to know what kind of response we might like. Third, it helps to know what kind of effect we might want to have.

When we need to just talk, freely, openly, without reserve, without worry of our effect or our affect, to just be heard, and perhaps understood and supported, then we need more neutral ears.

If we want to inflict pain (if we've been hurt), it helps to know that. If we want to get a message across, get information, get insight, it helps to know that as well. Our choices can be be guided by our goals when we pause to consider what they are. It helps to slow down a bit and give ourselves the gift of relief in ways that help heal us.

It also helps to know that when we feel blocked into silence we can respect that, but we can also know that it does not mean that we have no outlet. We can look under the block and find the right path out.


Stephanie said...

So funny you should write about this now! Even though I'm a counselor myself, I've been struggling with delayed self-understanding lately in conversations with my husband. We discuss something, and I say one thing (which usually doesn't make sense to him) and then I come back a few minutes later and tell him, "No, I think I really meant this." Usually the second thing rings more true and then it's able to be resolved. It helps to have some concrete steps I can use to help me get to the bottom of it more quickly! Thanks!

Melissa Groman, LCSW said...

glad it was useful Stephanie!
thanks for commenting!