How to speak up for yourself? 11 Tips To Overcome Self-Silencing

Silencing your inner self to keep the peace or the illusion of perfection will slowly kill you

Nancy Shurkoff

What is self-silencing?

Self-silencing is the propensity for people to repress their own demands, needs, and thoughts in order to preserve relationships or prevent confrontation. This might appear in a variety of ways, such as refraining from voicing divergent viewpoints, keeping silent regarding personal limits, or putting others’ needs before of one’s own.

A few examples of self-silencing are:

  1. A lady who is involved with a violent man can keep quiet about the abuse out of fear of reprisals or because she thinks her partner’s behavior is typical.
  2. A student who wants to pursue a career in the arts but is discouraged by parents who want them to take a more practical professional path may not reveal their genuine interests and instead choose a career that matches their parents’ expectations.
  3. Employees who disagree with their boss’s choice may be afraid to speak up in a meeting for fear of being viewed as tough or insubordinate.

Self-silencing can have detrimental effects on the person who uses it as well as their relationships. Resentment, suppressed rage, and a lack of genuineness in interpersonal interactions might result from it. It can also lead to not living one’s life fully and in line with their values and goals.

What are some theories that throw light on self-silencing?

The phenomenon of self-silencing is explained by a number of psychological theories. Each theory provides a different perspective on the phenomenon and highlights different factors that may contribute to it. Here are a few theories that attempt to explain self-silencing:

  • Social identity theory: According to the social identity theory, people often keep to themselves in order to preserve a positive social identity within a group. For instance, a member of a minority group may choose to keep quiet in order to preserve their social identity within the majority group and avoid being perceived as “difficult” or “uncooperative.”
  • Self-Verification Hypothesis: In accordance with this theory, people self-silence to preserve coherence between their social identity and their self-concept. To keep their self-concept and their social identification as a member of that group consistent, a person who identifies as a feminist might self-silence in a group of friends who are anti-feminist.
  • Relational Dialectics Theory: According to the relational Dialectics Theory, self-silence is a strategy people use to keep relationships harmonious and in balance. For instance, a person might self-silence even if it means repressing their own needs or desires in order to prevent causing tension in a relationship.
  • Self-Concordance Model: In this theory, self-silencing is viewed as a strategy people use to prevent their aims and circumstances diverge. For instance, a student who wants to pursue a career in the arts but is discouraged by their parents who want them to follow a more practical career route may self-silence by keeping their true interests to themselves and choosing a field that fits with their parent’s expectations.

What are the symptoms of “self-silencing”?

Self-silencing may manifest in several ways, such as:

  • Self-silencers may find it difficult to express their thoughts and feelings honestly and openly, even with close friends and family members.
  • Self-silencers may have repressed rage or resentment but find it difficult to communicate these feelings. Feelings of annoyance and unhappiness with interactions and relationships may result from this.
  • Setting limits can be difficult for self-silencers, who may find it difficult to say no and end up overcommitting or putting others’ needs before their own.
  • A lack of self-advocacy can also be a sign of self-silencing.m People who lack self-advocacy may find themselves in situations where their needs and wants aren’t addressed.
  • Self-silencers may find it difficult to make decisions independently and may rely on others to make decisions for them.
  • Self-silencers may have trouble asserting themselves in circumstances where they believe they are being treated unfairly.
  • Living in accordance with one’s ideals can be challenging for self-silencers, who may discover that their actions do not reflect their views and values.
  • Self-silencers may have low self-esteem because they may believe that their ideas and emotions are unworthy of being heard.

It’s important to remember that these symptoms may not always be caused by self-silencing and may occur for a variety of reasons. Self-silence can also be a symptom of other conditions like depression, anxiety, and personality disorders that may require professional assistance.

What is the impact of “self-silencing” on one’s life?

An individual’s life can be significantly impacted by self-silence in terms of relationships and mental health.

  • Mental health: Self-silence can result in negative feelings toward oneself and others, including resentment, irritation, and discontent. Additionally, it may aid in the emergence of mental health disorders like anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. For instance, a woman who is in an abusive relationship and self-silences to avoid conflict may have sadness or anxiety as a result of suppressing her feelings and being unable to leave the partnership.
  • Relationships: By inhibiting open and honest conversation, self-silence can have a negative effect on relationships. Additionally, it may result in a lack of sincerity in communication and mistrust between partners. For instance, a kid who wants to go into the arts but is discouraged by their parents might not reveal their genuine interests and choose a career that fits with their parent’s expectations. A lack of trust and understanding between the student and the parents may result from this lack of authenticity.
  • Personal satisfaction: Self-silencing can make it difficult for people to live their lives in accordance with their values and aspirations, which has a detrimental effect on how happy and fulfilled they feel. For instance, a worker who has a disagreement with their boss’s choice but chooses to remain silent in order to avoid a confrontation may not be able to contribute to the business as much as they would want and may feel underappreciated at work.
  • Career: By restricting someone from expressing their ideas, beliefs, and worries, self-silence can have a negative impact on someone’s career. Missed opportunities and a lack of professional development may result from this. Employees who self-silence, for instance, might not be able to contribute as much as they would like to the business, which results in lost prospects for promotions and professional development.

Self-silencing can develop into a vicious cycle that is difficult to escape and can have long-term detrimental repercussions on a person’s relationships, mental and emotional health, and overall sense of fulfillment. It’s critical to spot the symptoms of self-silencing and take action to stop the loop. An individual can discover and alter self-silencing behaviors and improve their communication skills with the assistance of a therapist or counselor.

What is the impact of self-silencing on emotional health?

Self-silencing can harm an individual’s emotional health by causing resentment, frustration, and dissatisfaction with oneself and others, resulting in the onset of mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety, adversely affecting relationships, and preventing individuals from living in accordance with their values and goals, inevitably leading to a lack of self-esteem, self-worth, and poor self-image. Recognizing the indicators of self-silencing and taking actions to interrupt the cycle, such as getting professional help and developing new coping methods, is critical.

What are self-silencing scales? How are they used and when are they used?

The tendency of a person to repress their own needs wants, and thoughts in order to uphold relationships or prevent conflict is measured using scales in psychology. These scales, which are often self-report surveys, measure the frequency and severity of self-silent actions including refraining from expressing divergent viewpoints, keeping quiet about personal boundaries, or putting others’ needs before one’s own.

The Self-Silencing Scale (SSS), the Self-Silencing and Authenticity Scale (SSAS), and the Self-Silencing Behavior Scale are three separate self-silencing scales that have been developed (SSBS). These scales have been employed in numerous studies to investigate the connection between self-silence and a range of outcomes, including mental health, relationship satisfaction, and professional achievement.

Self-Silencing Scales are used for self-awareness, treatment, and performance evaluation in research projects, clinical settings, and occasionally in organizations. They can be used to spot people who might be vulnerable to the detrimental effects of self-silence, such as mental health issues, marital troubles, and job stagnation. They can also be used to assess the success of therapies meant to lessen self-silent behaviors, including counseling or communication training.

It’s vital to remember that self-silencing scores are a technique for determining the likelihood and intensity of self-silencing behavior rather than being used to diagnose any mental problems. Like all self-report scales, the results must be interpreted cautiously and in conjunction with other evaluation techniques.

How are rejection and self-silencing related?

Self-silencing and rejection are similar in that both involve holding back one’s own needs, wants, and feelings. When someone is rejected, they could feel inadequate, ashamed, or rejected. They may start to become silent to protect themselves from more rejection as a coping mechanism for these unfavorable feelings.

Consider a person who has experienced a romantic partner rejection. To avoid more rejection, they could start to self-silence by keeping their needs and wants to themselves. In the end, they could feel bitter and unhappy in the relationship as a result of neglecting their own needs. Similar to how when someone is rejected in a social or professional context, they could start to keep quiet to prevent getting rejected again. This could result in holding back dissenting viewpoints, failing to defend personal boundaries, or putting others’ needs ahead of one’s own.

Rejection can cause self-doubt, self-criticism, and low self-esteem, all of which can increase a person’s propensity for self-silence. Self-silent people might be more likely to be rejected in the future because they might be viewed as being less assertive, more insecure, or less genuine.

Watch the video: Are you afraid of rejection?

What is emotional healing/recovery?

The process of confronting and overcoming prior emotional traumas or unpleasant events in order to enhance one’s mental and emotional well-being is referred to as emotional healing or recovery. This can involve finding and comprehending the trauma’s or bad experience’s underlying cause, learning new coping mechanisms, and creating new thought patterns and behavioral patterns.

There are various ways to heal emotionally, including therapy, counseling, self-help, and mindfulness exercises. It could entail discussing and processing old experiences, picking up new coping skills, and creating new ways of thinking and acting. It might also entail treating any underlying mental health issues brought on by the trauma or unpleasant experience, like sadness and anxiety. Although it can be a protracted and difficult process, emotional healing can also be uplifting and transforming. It can assist people in comprehending their past experiences, creating fresh coping methods, and ultimately enhancing their mental and emotional health.

Read Blog: 7 Reasons Why It Is Difficult To Manage Emotions? Tips To Control Emotions For Effective Emotional Healing

Examples of the process of emotional healing include:

  • A victim of childhood abuse may seek therapy to process the trauma and develop new coping skills to handle the aftereffects of the abuse.
  • Counseling can help a person who has lost a loved one manage their emotions and learn how to go on.
  • For the purpose of processing the trauma and learning how to establish appropriate boundaries in future relationships, someone who has been in an emotionally abusive relationship may seek counseling.

Enroll in our course: Scientific methods for emotional recovery

How are “self-silencing” and emotional healing related?

Self-silencing can prevent emotional healing and the discussion of past traumas or negative experiences, hence the two concepts are related. Self-silence can lead to the suppression of ideas, feelings, and needs, which can make it challenging for a person to process and comprehend past traumas or unpleasant events.

Imagine, for instance, someone who was abused as a youngster but has never mentioned it. They might have kept quiet to spare themselves the suffering and inconvenience of discussing the abuse. They may not have been able to process the trauma and build new coping skills to deal with the aftereffects of the abuse because of this self-silencing.

On the other side, emotional healing can assist people in confronting and processing unpleasant memories and traumatic experiences, which can eventually result in fewer self-silencing behaviors. To stop self-silencing in future relationships, a person who has experienced emotional abuse in a relationship may seek therapy to process the trauma and learn how to create healthy boundaries.

A person’s ability to set appropriate boundaries in their relationships and learn new coping methods can benefit from emotional healing. These new ways of thinking and acting can also help people express themselves honestly.

Watch the video: We have created this playlist for you to understand “emotional healing” in an easy way.

What are the disadvantages of “self-silencing”?

There are a number of drawbacks to self-silence, both for the person who uses it and for their relationships and general well-being. To name a few:

  • Self-silencing has a detrimental effect on mental health since it can cause feelings of resentment, repressed rage, and discontentment with oneself and others. Mental health disorders including depression and anxiety may arise as a result of this.
  • Self-silencing can impede people from living in accordance with their values and ambitions, which can have a detrimental effect on their sense of fulfillment.
  • Self-silence can cause relationship harm by inhibiting open and honest communication. Additionally, it may result in a lack of sincerity in communication and mistrust between partners.

Case study showing the negative impact of “self-silencing”

Sarah, a 30-year-old woman, has battled depression for a number of years. She was abused as a youngster in the past, but she has never mentioned it. For many years, she had been in an emotionally abusive relationship but had never come forward to report it. Sarah has been receiving treatment for her depression for a while, but her therapist has seen that she tends to keep to herself.

Sarah’s therapist saw that she keeps her ideas to herself and doesn’t speak up for her own boundaries. Sarah also puts other people’s needs above her own. Sarah’s therapist has also seen that she struggles to integrate her prior traumas and that she avoids bringing up her violent relationship and childhood maltreatment.

Sarah has experienced sadness and anxiety as a result of self-silencing, which has been made worse by her inability to handle her prior traumas. Her inability to set limits and express herself honestly has caused her relationships to suffer as a result of her self-silencing. Since she has been unable to live according to her ideals and aspirations, Sarah has also expressed a lack of contentment and satisfaction in her life.

In order to address Sarah’s self-silencing tendencies and assist her in processing her earlier traumas, Sarah’s therapist has been working with her. To assist her in improving her communication skills and increasing her comfort with expressing herself and setting boundaries, they have been utilizing a variety of interventions, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, mindfulness, and assertiveness training.

What are some psychology-based interventions to get rid of “self-silencing”?

Numerous psychology-based therapies are available to assist people in addressing and overcoming self-silencing practices. Here are a few illustrations:

  • Therapy: Therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), can assist people in recognizing and altering self-silencing tendencies and improving communication abilities. In therapy, people may learn how to express themselves more honestly, set appropriate boundaries, and develop coping mechanisms for criticism and rejection.
  • Training in assertiveness: It can assist people in learning how to respectfully, directly, and clearly state their own needs and objectives. This can make people feel more confident in their ability to set limits and more in charge of their relationships.
  • Emotion-focused treatment: Emotion-focused therapy (EFT) can assist people in recognizing, analyzing, and learning healthy ways to express their emotions. This can assist people in overcoming self-silencing behaviors and developing a more genuine and loving image of themselves.
  • Support groups and community: Joining a support group with others who have gone through comparable situations can offer a secure setting for people to express their thoughts and feelings while also learning from those who have faced and overcome comparable obstacles.

It is crucial to note that self-silencing can be a symptom of various illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and personality disorders, all of which may necessitate professional assistance. These interventions can be adapted to the individual’s specific needs and experiences, and it is critical to collaborate with a skilled professional to build the optimal approach for the individual. It’s also crucial to remember that overcoming self-silencing behaviors requires time, work, and patience, and it’s a path that may have setbacks but ultimately leads to a more honest and satisfying existence.

What are some self-help strategies to get rid of “self-silencing”?

The following self-help techniques can be used to treat and get rid of self-silencing behaviors in people:

  • Take some time to think about your feelings and thoughts, and become conscious of any patterns of self-silencing. You can use this to pinpoint the circumstances and triggers that result in self-silence.
  • Start small and express yourself in circumstances when the stakes are low to practice communication. You could, for instance, practice giving your opinion in a group setting.
  • Learn to say no to requests that conflict with your principles or your best interests. Practice establishing boundaries. Even though it can be challenging to set limits, it’s crucial to develop your self-confidence and ability to meet your own requirements.
  • Accept rejection. It’s crucial to learn to accept rejection and not take it personally because it’s a part of life. Remind yourself that being rejected does not sum up who you are.
  • Improve your self-esteem because it can play a big role in keeping yourself quiet. Try to concentrate on your strengths and successes while keeping in mind that you are deserving of respect.

Read Blog: What Is Self-Concept And How Can You Enhance IT? Tips and Case-studies

  • Practice mindfulness as it is helpful. Mindfulness techniques can help you become more aware of your thoughts and feelings and to develop a non-judgmental attitude toward them. Examples of these techniques include meditation and journaling. You may feel more at ease expressing yourself and drawing limits as a result.

Read Blog: 14 Most Effective exercises for Mindfulness

  • If self-silencing is interfering with your everyday life, consult with a competent therapist or counselor. They can assist you in identifying and changing self-silencing behaviors, as well as developing improved communication skills.

It’s crucial to note that self-silencing practices can be deeply ingrained and that changing them can take time and effort. It’s also critical to be patient with oneself and to recognize minor triumphs along the way. It’s also vital to keep this in mind.

Case study showing the impact of self-help strategies and psychology interventions to get rid of “self-silencing

John, a 35-year-old male, has battled self-silencing for a number of years. He was abused as a child in the past, but he has never mentioned it. He’s been in treatment for a while, but his therapist has noted that he tends to stay quiet by himself.

John’s therapist offered him a number of psychological interventions and self-help techniques to help him deal with his self-silent tendencies. They began with exercises that required John to think about his feelings and ideas and to become more conscious of his tendencies toward self-silencing. They also practiced speaking up in low-stakes scenarios, including giving their viewpoint during a meeting or telling a buddy about something he’s enthusiastic about.

John learned how to set boundaries and practice receiving a rejection from his therapist. They also focused on his strengths and successes in order to help him develop his self-esteem. They helped John build a non-judgmental perspective on his thoughts and feelings by using mindfulness techniques like journaling and meditation.

John’s therapist also assisted him in processing his prior traumas and discovering fresh coping strategies to deal with the abuse’s residual consequences. To assist him in recognizing and appropriately expressing his feelings, they used Emotion-focused therapy (EFT). John said that his self-silent behaviors had significantly decreased after receiving counseling for a few months.

He has been able to express himself more authentically, establish appropriate boundaries, and deal with rejection and criticism. He was also able to process his previous experiences and reported a considerable improvement in his mental and emotional well-being. He also stated that his relationships had improved and that he felt more fulfilled in his life.


In order to maintain relationships or prevent conflict, self-silencing is the propensity to repress one’s own thoughts, feelings, and desires. It may be detrimental to someone’s relationships, relationships with others, and general well-being. The process of confronting and overcoming past emotional traumas or unpleasant events in order to enhance one’s mental and emotional well-being is known as emotional healing or recovery. As it stops people from processing and comprehending past traumas or unpleasant experiences, self-silence can be an obstacle to emotional healing. In the end, emotional healing can help people deal with and process past traumas and unpleasant events, which will reduce their tendency to engage in self-silencing practices. To overcome self-silencing habits, which can ultimately result in improved emotional well-being and higher life fulfillment, it’s critical to recognize the symptoms of self-silencing, seek professional assistance, and employ the numerous solutions that are available.

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