How to speak up for yourself

Speaking up for Yourself – Easier Said Than Done!

This can be a very stressful decision – Do I speak up or say nothing? I have struggled with finding my voice for many years. I have also been healing that which stops me from speaking up for myself. My tendency would be to “stuff it” down and say nothing out of fear of reprisal. I have recently been in a situation that challenged me yet again to speak up. I share the following in hope that it will help others sort through this dilemma!

All The Voices

Discerning which part of me wants to speak is sometimes the hardest part:

  • Is it my victim telling me to speak out in defense?
  • Is it my truth?
  • Is it fear?
  • Is it anger?
  • Is it my bruised ego wanting to look good, win, or be right?

During my recent trip to Peru, a perfect opportunity presented itself.

Here’s What Happened

There was a miscommunication about the plans for the day and what to bring to the Bolivia border crossing. We all heard – take only your passports and leave the rest of your stuff on the van. We left Bolivia Passport Control and crossed a bridge by foot over into Bolivia, boarding a different van. We wondered what was going on. We had no idea we were on our way to some sites in Bolivia for the day – without our packs.

We arrived at the first site, still all wondering what was happening. The group was concerned – we didn’t have our hats, sunscreen, cameras, water, etc. We brought our concerns to the leader who, when confronted, got defensive, stating: Well I got my pack, I can’t help it if you all didn’t hear correctly! He continued: We all need to take responsibility for ourselves. I heard [from the hired guide] to take my pack! It’s time to put dissension aside and move on from it!

It didn’t seem to matter to him that everyone on the tour left the van with only their passports and without any idea about the day’s logistics. His defensiveness surprised me . . . I expected understanding. This had the unfortunate effect of placing me in a less empowered place. It triggered a victim wound . . . I was no longer clear and present.

My head was yelling at me to say something!!


Here’s what it wanted me to say when he was addressing us:

You are our leader! We paid for this trip and expect you to make sure we have everything we need for the days events. A real leader would have made sure we had our packs and checked in with us. We have been asking you questions and requested better communication, but you get defensive. You’ve been on this trip many times so some support and guidance would be appreciated!


But I didn’t speak up. I stayed quiet. I found myself in a submissive place – actually, thinking about it – this is not a good place to speak from! I wasn’t empowered and could not deliver a clean message, free from judgment and defense.

So what stopped me from speaking up?

Here are a few justifications fear/victim threw in to stop me from speaking: (all in a matter of seconds)

  • You don’t want confrontation, he’s already angry
  • You’ll sound like a driveler and complainer
  • Don’t bother – he won’t get it anyway
  • Ignore that impulse to speak up
  • You’ll look like a hard-ass complainer trying to prove a point
  • Aren’t you spiritual? Move on and forget it all – like he said

Speaking my Truth vs. Speaking to Defend

I used to think that defending myself was a good thing. For example, if someone makes a wrong assumption about me – I get angry and defensive and must set the record straight! Right?

I am not that person you think I am!!! 

My ego, believing it was wronged, will automatically start defending itself by attacking the other person! By trying to avoid being ‘victimized’ again, it ultimately ends up as one. The defense comes from an unhealed wound, wanting at all cost to avoid the pain and suffering it experienced in the past.

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  – Albert Einstein

The more things change, the more they stay the same. – Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr

The pattern had to complete itself – my ego wouldn’t be fully satisfied until it was feeling guilt, unworthiness and giving me a good dose of lashing for not speaking up. This is what my victim is comfortable with, what it expects. Twisted? Yes! It got rewarded for staying small by avoiding feeling the real pain from the past – shame, embarrassment, unworthiness, despair, helplessness.

The ego is clever, but the wounded ego is king!

Our triggered wounds need healing. Mine comes from a learned victim mentality, believing “I am worthless.” Once healed, it can no longer be triggered, allowing me to have compassion for others, understanding they too are suffering if they are attacking. As stated above, I have been in their shoes!

By the way . . .

I have been on other tours in different countries with caring and responsible leaders and had no issues. I can therefore appreciate being cared for and led. The person leading this trip was not a leader.


This trip presented me with an opportunity to heal a deep wound. For that I am grateful. My body endured one of the hardest physical challenges I have ever faced and I learned about appreciating my body and understand that I need to take care of it.

Please only take what resonates and disregard the rest. I would love to hear any comments!! Thank you for reading my blog!!

2 responses to “Speaking up for Yourself – Easier Said Than Done!”

  1. AmyRose🌹 Avatar

    If that man was a good leader, he would have observed no one had his or her backpack with them and would have questioned why not. And then he would have substantiated his question by stating you all needed them for the day. That is my take on what a leader does. He looks out for those he is responsible for. Donna, if there is any way you can leave a critique on this man with this tour company do it. He in my opinion does not deserve to be a leader. What if someone was taking medication and left it in the backpack? That would have been a major lawsuit. I would have spoken up. Because I am a keen observer, I would have questioned why he had his pack and we didn’t. This was a great Lesson for you so I’m pleased to see you are really digging deep about this. Funny how my last post and this post parallel each other. I recently had several interactions with members of family who were outright contemptuous and hateful to me. Instead of returning the volley of hate, I did two things. In the one situation I did nothing because I knew no matter what I said it would be twisted and more hate would spew forth. In the second case I replied in a kind and merciful tone thereby blocking the anger from growing. Believe me in both cases I wanted to tell them both off and where they could go. BUT! I “saw” the deep suffering they had within them and so I opted the High Road. And please don’t beat yourself up because you opted not to say anything. Learn from this experience and seek Within as to all you are to learn from it. Great post, Donn!!


    1. Donna Guillemette Avatar

      Thanks Amy! We do think alike and it is amazing the parallels we are experiencing!! Glad to hear I am not alone. I was thinking about leaving a critique – it would be good. It is a good lesson and experience for helping me find my voice!! Love and hugs!! Donna

      Liked by 1 person

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