Too Anxious To Speak Up?

Has any of you been too anxious to speak up?

I have. So many times in my life! In the past, when I have spoken up for myself, I have been treated like I am overreacting. This has made me anxious to speak up the next time.

People had called me crazy, critical, over-reactor, and ridiculous. They have told me to "calm down," and relax, making it look like my fault instead of acknowledging the injustice done to me. This is a tactic of power. It undermines the protests and does a great job of shutting me up. Exactly what that person wants. To ward off more resistance.

This can happen in any relationship but it especially, since I am a woman, happens when its a man I need to speak up to.

If a male colleague offends me, I have to think long and hard if I would let them know, since he might treat me as if I am overreacting. This possibility often makes me too anxious to speak up. And I often don't.

I wish we can just make a little deal out of something, an appropriate response to the situation and it be validated. I would feel great and go on my way, heartened, happy and robust. The relationship would stay intact and be even closer, trusting, and compassionate. But I am too scared to try, since it almost never happens this way. People are too defensive.

Invalidation Anxiety

I think I have invalidation anxiety. (I just made that up but I like it!)

Even when I try to speak up, I am worried the other person will, in his own defense, make a bigger deal about it, just by accusing me of overreacting. This has happened too many times to count. I'm invalidated when people don't understand what I am so upset about. It makes me feel like I don't matter. I'd rather stay silence than endure this invalidation.

When I have been hurt and express anger, I am afraid the other person, misunderstanding, will get mad at me for being angry. And then I, even though I feel worse, would end up apologizing to him–which only justifies his defense. And solidifies than I am, in fact, overreacting since in my apology is admittance that I was wrong.

Find people you trust

Is the answer to speak up? Do I need to get rid of this anxiety and start expressing myself? Sometimes it is probably OK for me to express myself. But not always. It is not always safe to do this and, sometimes it hurts to other person to do this. Also, speaking up and being invalidated could make me feel worse. We cannot expect validation from someone who hurt us--as much as we want it. Sometimes that person is so far in his or her own misery to understand or acknowledge you. And holding onto resentment of what they did or that they cannot acknowledge you will crush your soul.

What we have to do is spend time with people that love us and can acknowledge us. Not to commiserate, but to talk about what is important to us, appreciate each others goodness, skills, and actions. Validate and love each other. Surround yourself with people that can support you.

What do you do when someone offends you and feel too anxious to speak up? I love to read your comments below!

By Jodi Lobozzo Aman

I blog here: Heal Now and Forever Be In Peace
and here: Anxiety-Schmanxiety Blog,
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APA Reference
Lobozzo, J. (2012, June 27). Too Anxious To Speak Up?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 24 from

Author: Jodi Lobozzo Aman, LCSW-R

Haydee Tio
May, 27 2016 at 11:38 pm

I can speak up in my mind. I know exactly I want to say and when to say it but however this is hard on me. I know the values I want to stand out, I know the boundaries I want to set up but somehow I can't speak up and communicate this thoughts and feelings. I can't never have a normal conversation with someone. I am in my head too much, they are talking but I am not listening. Then I am talking but I am thinking something else or they are talking and I am thinking about something not even related and so far etched. It's hard to be this way and mantain a healthy relationship. I learn more and more every time and with each relationship to communicate better. However the relationship I am now I totally feel what's going on right now is exactly the over power and control this person has over myself. I am so anxious to speak up, to just have a normal conversation. Then I do just as you wrote, I apologize because when I do it seems like I am over reacting and somehow this person makes it looks like it is my fault. I just want to speak up. I wish there were classes on how to deal with this...

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Haydee Tio
May, 27 2016 at 11:39 pm

I meant to say I can't speak up....sorry **

What Women Fear | Anxiety-Schmanxiety Blog
September, 25 2013 at 6:21 am

[...] Fear of being accused of overreacting, [...]

December, 8 2012 at 2:42 pm

the only way out of anxiety is to face your fears, gradually face them more and more, until you are cured!

Gender Politics: How Do We Talk About It | Heal Now and Forever
December, 8 2012 at 5:19 am

[...] to men. I do anyway and usually get socked in the gut. I cry and mope, but then I get back up and speak up again. I’m trying to find a way to speak productively- but I realize that the way I am speaking is [...]

Invalidation Anxiety | Anxiety-Schmanxiety Blog
July, 11 2012 at 5:25 am

[...] made up “Invalidation Anxiety” two weeks ago, as I wrote Too Anxious To Speak Up? And was fascinated how many people were sparked by my words and left a lively debate in the comment [...]

Jodi Lobozzo Aman: Heal Now and Forever
July, 10 2012 at 9:53 am

[...] Newest post on Anxiety-Schmanxiety: Too Anxious To Speak Up? [...]

Megan Harlan
July, 1 2012 at 8:50 am

There is an excellent communication technique called "Non Violent Communication" (sorry, can't remember the author). It helps to structure what you want to say in a straightforward nonthreatening manner. I have had excellent results with this method.

June, 28 2012 at 2:27 pm

When I was younger I had less worries about what others thought about me. I have always been anxious and emotional and very passionate when I feel injustice has been done. I use to be able to speak my mind, even though it got me in trouble sometimes, but it made me feel more alive and my self-esteem was a lot better.
Now I am re-learning how to be me again, after coming to accept I have bipolar. Now I usually shut down, I am afraid to speak up because my emotions are so wild. I am a mother, wife, and an employee and I care what others think of me. But shutting down has gotten me nothing but low self-esteem, extreme anxiety, and it eats me alive and makes me feel worthless.
I'm slowly coming out and speaking up again, really you got to realize like you said in your post that people who will respect what you have to say will listen and not put you down or make you feel invalidated and 'overreacting'.
Really, screw it, we all should be all be able to speak our minds, you just have to remember that "you" matter and what you have to say matters!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

July, 1 2012 at 10:45 am

Yes, but what makes us think we are a victim to injustice? I guess I'll have to write about this next Wednesday.

Boundaries, Barriers, and Limits, Oh My! | Heal Now and Forever
June, 28 2012 at 5:58 am

[...] People are mean because they are so miserable that some of their misery overflows out onto others. They are usually afraid themselves or feeling guilty about something. rather than take it personally, take a step back and this might help understand why people are responding. Remember all attack is a call for love. Instead of being defensive, which they might find invalidating, respond with compassion. If they continue to be mean, you don’t have to stay available, just have compassion from a distance. I wrote a post about this yesterday on Anxiety-Schmanxiety: Too Anxious to Speak Up? [...]

June, 28 2012 at 12:20 am

I can totally relate. I have found myself in such a similar situation and always end up kicking myself for not speaking up on my behalf, and for letting someone else to get the better of me. It's frustrating. I do it less now, but still I know it's hard. And it's not over-reacting. not at all!

Patricia Bosley
June, 27 2012 at 2:46 pm

I think that it is a question of how you react! If you are calm but firm in you response when someone offends you they are more likely to take you seriously. Often, when dealing with men who invalidate me, I will let them know in a very calm demeaner that they have offended me and that I would appreciate it if they would not speak to me that way again. Oh, and look them straight in the eye when you say it. Men will back down when a woman doesn't put up with their nonsense.
You can practice this on friends because it seems like you would be very uncomfortable doing this at first. Like you said, the only person that it leaves feeling discredited is you if you don't speak up. Sometimes the person may not even know that have offended you.
You deserve to be treated with respect unfortunately, sometimes you have to command it and like Jodi Aman ssid...don't ever appologize to someone you treats you poorly.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

June, 27 2012 at 3:25 pm

I know what you mean, but it is not safe to do with everyone and we tend to know who it is and who it isn't. By all means if it works, it works, sometimes no matter how calm you are it is not tolerated. Sometimes it is not worth demanding respect. We have to know we are worthy despite how that other person treats us. It is a spiritual thing between you and yourself to rise above. So I agree with both, and-- depending on the situation.

Patricia Bosley
June, 27 2012 at 6:30 pm

I didn't say "demand" respect. That would imply stomping your foot down and making a demand that someone respect you or else. I said "command" there's a difference.
If one were to chose when to be respected and when not, then you would be anxiously waiting to decide if this is the time and place you are going to stick up for yourself. Which may be interpureted as over reacting.
Whatever the circumstances, there is nothing wrong with commanding respect from anyone especially if that person is being degrading.
The only time I would not suggest this is if it was physical abuse. Then I would suggest walking, no wait, running away for good!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

June, 28 2012 at 5:54 am

Sorry Patricia, Of course you didn't say that, I am sorry for misconstruing your words. Nothing wrong with it at all. It is choice, which one may or may not chose to do, depending. There is no right way or wrong way.

Patricia Bosley
June, 30 2012 at 7:19 pm

I'm sorry. I didn't mean to offend you. I am just passionate about not letting anyone belittle or disrespect you. We have all been there.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

July, 11 2012 at 4:30 am

No worries, Patricia, I wasn't offended! I don't like it either but I am suggesting that we can "not allow it" in a different way. Yes, we have all been there!

June, 27 2012 at 7:28 am

Maybe compromise is the way to approach it. Though, men can be somewhat dismissive when a woman speaks up. I suppose forming allies can get the opposing party to see things your way as well. Nothing wrong with a little politicking in the office. My own problem is being oppositional 'cause that's just the way I am with some personalities, so I have to check that, although I think I'm "righter" than the other person.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

June, 27 2012 at 10:14 am

Men do seem dismissive, it is ingrained in them. Us ladies need to stick together. I think I am righter, too, but they might not think so.

June, 27 2012 at 6:27 am

"crazy, critical, over-reactor, and ridiculous." that is ridiculous! I can never see you in that way. Having strong ideas, encouraging, calm an calming and as sane as they come - that is how I see you!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

June, 27 2012 at 10:14 am

I am sane since I keep my mouth shut.

June, 27 2012 at 5:36 am

I used to "shut down" completely with everyone and in any situation.
I am trying to change and only succeeded in my work place. In fact, thinking about it now, I didn't even succeed in my work place, because when I do speak up there it's in protection to one of my colleague's rights, never to mine. When it comes to my rights, I take the attitude :"it's not important and I don't care".
If someone I love offends me, I become speechless, and don't say a word. Once I calm down, I write an apology, but explaining the facts as they happened. I state the facts as they are, showing the misjudgment and offense, but I never admit I was offended not to let the other person feel guilty.
Many times instead of seeing the offense, I consider it a misunderstanding.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

June, 27 2012 at 10:14 am

Please don't apologize when someone offends you! You wouldn't hurt a fly!

June, 27 2012 at 1:41 pm

I consider everyone good by nature, so when someone offends me, I apologize because I consider there must be something in me that triggered this bad reaction

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

June, 27 2012 at 3:22 pm

I get you spiritually. This is high level understanding. It is not offensive to them and you are not responsible to them, just to you. No need to apologize, lovely! Just give yourself some compassion instead, (same thing).

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

August, 15 2015 at 8:25 pm

Did I write this article/story/? (I'm not that swift with all the terms) in my sleep? It sounds as though I did, and thank Heavens I found all you people. My story's a little bit different - I was harmed, very deeply, by my family last Christmas Day, 2014. Then immediately after, shamed by them over a little cocktail nibble (I swear! I know by now you must be laughing). Anyway, I will spare myself - and you - the very painful details. I was stunned and humiliated when I walked in, and acted as if I'd heard nothing, saw nothing - when they acted as if everything was business as usual. Shouldn't they have been the embarrassed ones? Now it's the exact middle of August 2015 and I've had 8&1/2 months of hurt to carry around. My family, whenever I try to defend myself or speak for myself or whenever I speak on a great variety of subjects, they mistake my passion for ridiculousness or hydroponics and NEVER give me the opportunity to finish my thoughts - no matter how calm and well thought out they may be. So I'm marching myself into Christmas 2015, calm and cool, and I'm going to say Not Gonna Participate in Whatever This Is Any More, and I'm going to quote a few of my fave lyrics from the '80s song I Don't Care Any More: "You can drag my name all over the place, I don't care any more". Or that's close, anyway. I hope Mr. Phil Collins won't mind - I think I'm just as mad as he was when he wrote it, and I sure don't mean any disrespect to him. I love that song. Come Dec 26, my new life begins. I'm scared but wow I can't wait and wow THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS!! You've given me courage. Why has it taken me so damn long to find the voice that has belonged to me since birth?
Thread!! This is a thread - at least I remembered at some point. And I see that these posts are 2012, so you will probably never read mine. I talk too much anyway.
I see a common thing here - a beautiful quality amongst you all. There is no doubt in my mind or my heart that You are the beautiful, kind, generous, um, let's see - well, you are the kind of women and men I would like to have as friends. Chin up- and keep those eyes on the horizon. And keep smiling.

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