Communication, Learn How to Speak Up, Part 1


Perhaps you’ve heard of the books by Erica Jong – “Fear of Flying” and her latest, “Fear of Dying”? Here’s one that needs to be written. Its title should be the Fear of Speaking Up/Danger of Speaking Down.

Jong’s books both relate to women owning their sexuality. My idea is related to each of us owning our right to have our voice heard and the wisdom to understand and speak respectfully to others.

Speaking up

Day after day, the problems that show up in my office (I’m a therapist) are most often related to problems in communication. There are those of you who are too terrified/insecure/shy, to ask for what you need and want. It may come from a fear of rejection or loss. It may be that you never felt that you were important enough to take anyone’s time or that anyone really cared. Maybe you are convinced that it won’t matter because you’ve tried it and failed.

While it may also be that the people with whom you want to speak are not listening, available, or respectful, this should not be acceptable to you! Learning a way to express yourself requires your believing you have a right to be heard.

In any relationship, it takes courage and self-respect to ask for what you want and need.. How can your life be satisfying if you feel essentially invisible? Are you reliving old messages from long ago? Most of us do – automatically/unconsciously.

Accepting the status quo will ultimately deaden you, leaving you to feel insignificant. With that as your reality, no matter how promising your relationship seemed at the beginning, you will no doubt notice growing anger, resentment, depression. Over time love erodes, sexual desire disappears and loneliness sets in, unless you do something to change the dynamic. How can anyone maintain and grow a relationship if the experience is invisibility to your partner?

Speaking down

Then there are those of you who speak up (or I would call it “down”) with a demanding sense of entitlement. That is not the way to get what you really need and want. This style of communicating most often comes from people who have experienced hateful things in their lives. If this describes you, perhaps you grew up in a home where screaming and name calling were the norm. That was your role model. And, because of that, your anger lives just under the surface; and, easily triggered, you replicate what you hated.

My guess is that you are inadequate to the task of respectfully reaching people who might otherwise willingly want to accommodate you. Instead, you create resentment or fear or even loathing, rather than good will. Have you noticed the looks on the faces of your children when you scream at them? Stop and think how that affects your own body chemistry and – importantly – their budding sense of who they are. What legacy will you leave?

It is time to rid yourself of all that internalized anger and learn how to effectively reach the people in your life. And, I’m not talking just about personal relationships. Many professional people haven’t learned how to get the best from their employees. I believe it is in the way they speak that discredits the other person or diminishes the import of the request.

Stay tuned for Part 2…………..


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About Paula Susan

Paula Susan, MSW, LCSW, Masters in Clinical Social Work & Psychology; specialist in Trauma and Relationships since 1982. In 1991, I integrated the powerfully transformative process of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). Research demonstrates that it facilitates life-altering changes more efficiently and effectively than talk therapy alone. I teach skills such as communication and anxiety relief to improve connection with others. Over the decades, I’ve come to respect how much damage even small traumatic experiences inflict on our core beliefs about ourselves and the world around us. I consider it a privilege to help my clients understand and change what has undermined their happiness and their relationships. I do it with warmth, integrity, humor, and profound respect for those who care about the quality of this small piece of time we have on

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