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Recently, I caught myself thinking out loud.

I’ve never been one to bite my tongue, and knowing myself and how my thoughts always go from blocks to small cities, I realize that it’s hard to cap a metropolis when mental construction is on the rise.

For women, especially black women, having something to say almost comes as second nature. You rarely ever find us at a loss for words. We speak our minds, whether out of turn or not, and without the necessity of needing any permission.

It’s as if we’re letting the world know time and time again, that we don’t take mess, stand for injustice, and you can’t pull the wool over our eyes — even if you have a sheep farm and we need a sweater.

But if you mesh our outspoken nature and add in the aspect of being in a relationship, a lot of men don’t like this portion. Some find it one of the most prominent reasons for why brothers have found other options when it comes to their racial choices in the dating world.

But not for everyone, I’ll add.

Without extinguishing our ability to speak our minds, there are a great number of brothers who enjoy our freedom of expression and can handle whatever it is we might say as long as it’s within reason and not harmful to their character.

Whether we’re labeled a bitch, nag, psychopath, or drama queen, I’d rather be an opinionated person than someone who goes along with the world and never questions anything or anyone.

Maybe it’s a trademark garnered from the years our ancestors spent fighting for freedom. Standing up for what we think, feel, and believe is something we do without apology but maybe more often then we should.

Choose your arguments wisely, because speaking your mind can have a downside.

Speaking out isn’t really the issue, rather it’s trying to recover from an unknown reaction to our words. Planning the battle doesn’t always denote the end, so even with a verbal Uzi in your hand, sometimes you can end up being the one who’s forced to eat the bullets when it’s all said and done.

It’d be a lie to pretend that whenever sisters go “balls out” they never go too far. Often times, no matter what you may’ve thought, “keeping it real” does go wrong when we opt to speak our minds without considering how our words can affect the other person.

Recently I caught myself speaking out of turn, saying the first thing that came to my mind (which I often do) and wishing that I could recount the event after my tactless honesty had hit the air. Impossible.

What I said doesn’t really matter. But as I look back now, empty-handed and angry at only myself, I wonder how important my speech really was when the words I spoke killed my audience.

Armed with a great excuse for inciting an unnecessary argument, the reaction of my words came from a distaste for a brewing feeling that had gone from a tolerable pain to a blinding agony. Truth of the matter is, I took a temporary frustration and wrote myself a permanent sentence – it cost me a friendship.

Even after a million apologies, we must remember that the latter day doesn’t change the past. You can’t take something you said back; it’s best to think about your options before you choose to open your mouth.

Is this a downside for black women? Or is the fact that we don’t fear expressing ourselves an admirable trait.

It really all depends on who’s observing. The most important thing to remember is that there’s good and bad in everything we do, but if we don’t weigh our options and examine balance, then we become victims of spontaneity and live for seconds rather than hours.

Here are a few things to think about before you commence to speaking your mind.

1. After all is said and done, what is the other party going to think about you going forward?

Being passive is an art, and many of us don’t realize that choosing not to go off doesn’t make you a fool; it just means that you understand the importance of choosing the proper battles. Far too often I think we speak before we’ve given the idea much time to settle. Cussing folks out, fighting to be right, wanting the last say … in the moment, just like a boxer, those things feel necessary. But when looking at your opponent, should you really be trying to knock someone out that you say you love?

2. Since you can’t take back words, statements, or insults, are you running more of a risk opening your mouth, or are you truly helping the situation?

When you call someone out of their name out of spite, anger, or irritation, apologizing doesn’t always lead to resolution, because it can’t take away the fact that you went there in the first place. Sometimes love means admitting you’re wrong when you already know you’re right. Sitting on your hands and letting the universe work everything out can be the best way to see if maybe a problem is all that pertinent or if the big deal is really all in your mind.

3) Who stands to gain from you speaking your mind? If you’re searching for the upper hand in the relationship, you’re forgetting that it’s supposed to be a partnership not a dictatorship.

Like Kanye West said, “No one man should have all that power.” If having the last word is about claiming the upper hand, then speaking your mind has become a game of sport and not necessarily a positive tool for getting your point across. Whether it’s a friendship or relationship that your mouth stands to jeopardize, respect should be the common boundary, and when having your say, you should never infringe upon that.

So Clutchettes and Gents, do you think speaking your mind has its positive and negative aspects?

Do you regret something you said recently, and how are you recovering from that experience?

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  • My Dear Mother has always said to me, “It’s not the words one uses, but how one expresses those words.” Being full of anger and attitude doesn’t make one’s words more impactful. It is one thing to express oneself in an intelligent and respectful way. It is yet another thing entirely to let it “all hang out.”

  • Canden Webb

    I really enjoyed this article. You are right. Sometimes the strongest people are the ones that know how and when to be silent. Grace and respect are attributes that are very useful when getting your point across.

    Thank you.

    -Canden