“If you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all.”
I heard this advice often as a child.
I was quiet child
I had plenty of “not nice” things to say about how we were treating each other and how stifled i felt.
How needy i felt emotionally.
But I was silent because it didn’t seem nice to say.
I feel lonely.
I wanted to say things like,
“I want more love.”
“You seem mean and unhappy.”
“Why are you sad?”
“Can we do this differently?”
I learned not to speak at all even when I had a nice thing to say.
What would I have talked about?
How beautiful Nature is.
How jealous of others i am
How much I love walking
How scared I am to speak up!
I concluded that there really was no time at all to share what was in my heart. Everything I had to say was invalid.
I was muting myself systematically, especially when I had something nice to share becuase I feared the accidental spilling out of something mean.
Until I learned about Love Letters from Barbara de Angelis and John Gray in 1983.
I learned that all those unspoken mean things – the anger and blame – always had other feelings beneath them. Sadness. Fear. Guilt. And Love. And at age 35, I finally had a way to unmute myself!
In a LoveLetter, I learned to write equal parts of all of those feelings and the thoughts attached to them. Then I read them out loud.
Heres a short example:
I hate it that you chew loud
Im sad that I feel seo
parate from you
I’m afraid to talk with you about what’s really important to me
I’m guilty of unconscious eating myself and don’t want to admit it.
I love and appreciate you for providing all this food for our family.”
Some letters were very long. The anger spilled out over pages. Then, to follow the rules, the other feelings had to balance. I was particularly challenged with writing an equal “love” section because there was so much unexpressed anger that I couldnt get to the love.
After a month of letters the balance came easier.
I discovered that saying the love part became more comfortable and that the stifled anger wasn’t always the first thing that popped into my mind.
Eventually, I noticed that “a nice thing to say” did occur to me and I started to speak more often. I could write my balanced Love Letters, knowing that it was fine to feel all of my feelings.
Can you relate?
Try a Love Letter. I’ll get you started.
Im mad at youbecause……
Im sad about …….
Im sorry that I……
I love you for…….
Then, read it out loud to someone who can witness and validate it with no editing or comment, just “Thanks for sharing that.”
Let me know how this works for you!