Countless times, I’ve heard people say “I can’t say it” or “I can’t talk about it”–or worst of all, “I’m not supposed to tell anyone.”
With a very few obvious exceptions (like corporate information that makes your company competitive or like national security and military secrets), you CAN talk about anything you feel you need to.
If someone made you promise not to tell anybody a deep dark secret that is eating you alive now, break that promise.
If your boss tells you you’re not allowed to discuss your employment (pay, treatment, etc) with anyone, don’t play by his rules.
If your dad or mom tell you you’re not allowed to tell people what goes on at home or you’ll be sorry, tell a teacher or another adult what’s happening and that you’re scared and need help.
I swear I have seen more damage done, more abuse prolonged, and more bullying enabled by people in every area of life being made to believe they have some obligation to keep quiet about something that’s slowly destroying them.
Bad people get a lot of their power from secrecy. Abusers isolate the abused. Bullies threaten harm to their victims if they speak up. Scammers and crooks threaten harm to people who go to the authorities for help. Bosses manipulate and intimidate their employees who don’t know better into keeping silent about problems in the workplace and unfair treatment.
And the ones getting bullied and scammed and hurt rarely know that there’s a lot built into the system–our society–to protect them and help them when people are trying to use fear and secrecy to control them: Laws against discouraging employees from discussing their terms of employment, hotlines available for kids who need a professional to step in and ensure they’re safe, law enforcement who are well trained to help people who are being threatened.
And the bullied ones also rarely know that all the power they think bullies have over them–it’s usually not really there. I am becoming more and more and more convinced, the older I get and the more I see, that most of the power that bullies get just comes from their victims feeling like they can’t speak up.
So please help me spread the word. If there’s something that’s hurting or scaring or bothering you, and someone tells you that you can’t talk about it, that’s the best indicator that you NEED to talk about it!
If you ever feel like someone has backed you into a corner and has their hand over your mouth, be brave! There are lots of us out here who will listen and help.
A bully’s worst nightmare is that someone might speak up.