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I’ve spent too much of my life being quiet. Queen Latifah in Last Holiday.

There seems to be an almost relentless campaign to get rid of the unwanted
. Why then would you want to unleash “reverse clutter?”

What I’m referring to is the accumulation of our true feelings at the expense of saying what’s on our minds. Individuals (and especially women) are taught not to “make waves,” from an early age – as the old adage goes, “sugar and spice and everything nice.” We are reticent to confront that which harms our persona.

Our inclination as part of “polite” society is not to stick to our guns, but to stick our own agendas in a drawer. We then fall prey to those “ruthlessly engaged only in exactly what [they] want to do,” people who “live outside the social contract.” When we eschew our own needs to be perceived as “nice,” we run the risk of being invisible, and emboldening the very people who need upbraiding.

Traveling through life in a constant mode of accommodation is disrespectful to you. On the personality dimension of “agreeableness,” I think a rating of midpoint is probably the most helpful. Bottling your misgivings and revising your position (in response to scare tactics) disempowers your person, and may actually result in illness. Our subconscious knows the truth, and it recognizes your perceived need to keep quiet as not in your best interests. Self-expression is a necessary release valve to ensure civilized society – otherwise, the most aggressive and self –interested will rule. How to make baby steps in this area?

  • Calmly (but firmly) practice stating your platform before an actual confrontation occurs. Your opinion does not need to rise to the level of rancor of your opponent.  
  • Consider Toastmasters. Having served as both educational vice president and president of Northwest Houston Toastmasters Club, I can attest that this form of training is not only cost effective, but is one of the most impactful ways of coming out of your shell.
  • View those who try to intimidate you for who they really are – cowards, thieves, and in the case of sociopaths – liars and cheats. Stepping to the side only affirms their dominion, and makes it more likely that others will become their next victim. Stand your ground.
  • Do the unexpected. Bullies expect you to hum a happy tune and pretend that everything is hunky dory. It isn’t. Keep in mind that the mousy are unlikely to move mountains. In the spirit of free speech, let it rip.
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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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One Response
  1. Hello Dr. Gilbert!

    I enjoyed this blog as it sort of rekindled some of the past to present processes I experienced in growing up and being hesitant or afraid to express my thoughts and feelings as they pertained, to now, in basically having no fear in doing so. Many things brought about my transformation, but the fact is that without the knowing and acceptance of why my subconscious was chiseling at me, and the self desire to do something about it, I’d probably be just another “mouse caught head first in a snap trap” statistic.- Even worse, a mental wreck. Thank you Dr. Gilbert, all well said.

  2. Charles Barnett on June 20th, 2012 at 7:19 am