At the end of my last post I brought up the the issue of speaking up. Or in this case, not doing so. At the political seminar I was at on Carbon Fee and Dividend I experienced something that has happened to me a few times. During the discussion I wanted to say something but didn’t.
As usual my mind starting making up excuses as to why I shouldn’t say it. Excuses such as That doesn’t really apply in a Norwegian context. Or That question has already been answered in a way.
What I think my mind was really saying though was what if I sound stupid?; What if someone disagrees with my point of view?; Will they get annoyed?; Do I want to deal with that conflict? etc.
These are pretty normal thoughts and feelings when wishing to expressing an opinion. Whether it is at a political event, with friends and family or in public spaces.
So how do we overcome these fears so that we can start to use our voices more actively? I think a good start is to acknowledge the feelings as perfectly natural and not beat yourself up about having them. It doesn’t mean you are a coward or stupid. It means you are a human being.
The next step I believe is to be more open about it. Talk to others about how it can be hard to express opinions. Ask them to share their experiences with you. Try and think about what you can do to make it easier for others to express their opinions.
I believe that activist groups and political parties could do a lot better here. It is such a fundamental part of activism yet is rarely addressed directly in my opinion. So it’s no surprise if people struggle with it. If you are active in a group maybe you could think about what you could do to contribute to an environment where people feel more able to express themselves.
The final thing I believe we can do is to learn to embrace disagreement. Disagreement doesn’t have to be something to be afraid of. Without disagreement nothing changes. Disagreement can spark debate and inspire solutions that improve our world. The more voices that take part in the discourse the better the solutions. So don’t be afraid to speak up!
If you have any thoughts or experiences relating to this then please do leave them in the comments! Speak up! 😉