There are times when speaking our minds means losing a friendship. There’s no sugar-coating that, especially when it’s something important to you.
It’s one thing to speak up when you’ve got full support. But when your tribe doesn’t appreciate your qualities or share your opinions, it’s much easier to back off for fear of the cost of speaking up – losing your tribe or friend. Whether it’s unaddressed bullying, social injustices OR you just being your creative, expressive self in a group of less enthusiastic people.
If you’ve experienced losing a friendship because you spoke up, you know what I mean.
You know the sense of loss. You sense the absence of them in your life. However, if what you did was true to you, you could also sense pride in your actions.
Sometimes, when we don’t value ourselves, we put more into the relationships around us. The more we focus on external relationships, the more our value becomes fused with those relationships. As a result, the relationship we have with ourselves suffers for the sake of the ones we have with other people.
When we operate from this perspective, having a different opinion can feel dangerous. If our opinions differ from our friends, we may keep quiet to keep the relationship.
But ask yourself, whose opinion matters most at the end of the day? Who are you going to live with for the rest of your life?
That’s the person you always have to square with.
That’s the person you look at in the mirror every day.
That’s the person who will be with you till the end.
When you value yourself & your opinions, speaking up for your beliefs can make you stand a little taller…even if you’re doing it alone.
But if you invest more in your friendships than your relationship with yourself, speaking up is more difficult. The threat of losing friends feels scary. I hear you.
When we lose friendships, it hurts. We’re conditioned, wired for connection and community. Our primal & tribal mind is terrified we’ll be left alone & likely die without our tribe.
This brain is from another time – from our ancestors who needed a tribe to survive the wild. Our modern brain is trying to protect us from pre-historic problems by thinking we must fit in or “agree” to belong or we’ll die.
It’s evolution, not the truth.
Nonetheless, losing friendships is painful. We are social creatures & want community; even if that is only one other person. But we don’t need to sacrifice our core beliefs to get it. To do that is to ultimately sacrifice & exhaust ourselves.
I want you to have a formula for sustainable mental wellness, not one that exhausts you.
Of course NOT speaking our minds doesn’t mean we’re compromising our beliefs. If it’s around the water cooler, that’s just being professional. We don’t have to agree to get along or voice our opinion on everything.
But if you conform to fit in or parrot popular opinion but don’t agree with it – that will keep the peace stable temporarily.
But long-term; keeping quiet eventually leads to the pot boiling over. That is when our emotions spill out in unproductive ways that are anything but peaceful.
If you express yourself & find that your views are not accepted to the degree that YOU are not accepted, really ask yourself, what was keeping quiet accomplishing? Were they really accepting me if I can’t BE me?
Reasons to speak your opinions even if you lose a friend:
1. If you find yourself biting your tongue a lot, it can be useful to ask yourself; “Do I want a relationship that is so fragile I have to keep quiet to maintain it?” If the price of the relationship is agreeing at all times, that may be too high a price to pay. In a healthy relationship, there is room to disagree.
2. When you value yourself, you learn that not everyone has earned the right to hear your opinions. BUT some relationships & issues ARE pivotal to you. In those instances, it can be better to speak up in a helpful, kind, constructive manner.
3. You might stay quiet at the times you disagree. You might think causing disagreement is unkind & you want to be a “nice” person, but is that nice? It’s a little deceptive, isn’t it? The other person has no idea you have a different view. You’re denying them the chance to know you more. Ultimately, you aren’t being kinder to them, you’re deceiving them.
You’re also losing some self-trust. These actions communicate to your mind that this relationship is more important than your opinions are.
4. We are adaptive creatures and our wants and needs change. Possibly you are changing. Maybe your season with this tribe is over and it is time to move on. It’s much messier to stay with the same people & all the while, inwardly disagree & silently scream. That’s not something wrong with you or them, that’s a wrong fit. That’s the wrong tribe.
5. Believing you can find a new tribe. I am a big believer in our unique ability as humans to re-start. Not as a coping strategy, that isn’t healthy. I mean when we have genuinely changed our preferences and move on instead of staying still because we’re afraid we won’t find a new community. When we are true to ourselves in a hopeful way, we find out how strong and resilient we are.
There is a tribe out there for you. It is just a question of continuing to be yourself & engaging in the things you love. With intention & putting yourself out there a bit; you will find a new tribe.
Losing a friendship causes pain – Ways to Take Care of Yourself:
TIP #1: Be kind and compassionate to yourself.
Take care of the part that is hurt. Practice being proud of yourself. Know that the world needs your voice & it is right & good to add it. If you were being true to yourself & had clean motives & they don’t like what you say, know you didn’t do anything wrong. Acknowledge you don’t have control over people’s responses, only your responses to them. (For a Confidence-Boost during a difficult time, this article will help: Confidence Boosters That Reform Your Thinking.
TIP #2: Take Action.
Talk to the people who value you. Make a list of 3 things you love to do & then do one of them. Take a walk around the block. Fresh air and movement help us switch gears.
TIP #3: Mind management.
Watch your thoughts, guard yourself against all-or-nothing thinking. Things won’t stay this way forever. There is a tribe out there waiting for you.
In the end, know that if what you have to say causes you to lose some friends, it will be uncomfortable at first but you will be ok. Some consequences may feel uncomfortable, but if you can’t speak your truth with your friends, what have you lost?
I ask myself, what feels worse? Being quiet to maintain the façade of belonging, or speaking up and conserving my character? Preserving what is, or saving face?
I choose my face. It’s the one I have to look at for the rest of my days.