Why Do We Need to Be Aware of Self-Silencing? – Self-Silencing EP #4

By Fifi Mason

Ever considered the impact that you could have in world if you could just stop caring what other people might think or say?

When I was a teen, I was painfully shy. So much so that I couldn’t walk past someone in the street without blushing.

My mind would instantly go to what they were thinking about me. That they would see me and find my lacking in some way; judge me for how I looked, how I walked, just for looking at them.

In my friendship groups I barely spoke to anyone, I hated having that spotlight on me and would avoid it at all costs. I just went along with everything they said and didn’t question anything.

It took me some years to build up my confidence and break out of my shell. Then later learning about introversion helped me to understand myself even more.

But I still battled with the worry and fear of “saying the wrong thing” or not knowing how to articulate my thoughts.

So I always kept things to myself. It meant I was avoiding the conversations that could lead to growth and understanding, and I wasn’t connecting with people or building deep, long-lasting relationships.

There are many reasons we need to be aware of self-silencing, so let’s explore why it’s so important to understand and how it affects us more deeply than we might realise.

Awareness of Self-Silencing is Key

Self-silencing can subtly creep into our lives, often without us even noticing.

It limits our potential to connect genuinely, to make meaningful impact, and to grow as individuals.

As we progress in this mini-series, I’ll dig deeper into the reasons why we self-silence. But ultimately it comes down to fear.

Let’s talk about fear. It’s often the voice in the back of our heads telling us to stay quiet, to not rock the boat.

And while this fear can sometimes serve as a protective mechanism, alerting us to real dangers, it often oversteps. It holds us back from expressing ourselves, from taking risks that could lead to growth. It’s important to recognise when fear is acting as a guardian and when it’s acting as a gatekeeper to our self-expression.

Fear is Natural

It isn’t always the enemy; in many ways, it’s an innate response, a built-in mechanism designed to protect us. 

It alerts us to danger, and helps us navigate risky situations. So, when we talk about overcoming fear in the context of self-silencing, it’s not about dismissing it outright but rather understanding and rationalising it.

The key is to recognise when fear is serving a purpose and when it’s merely holding us back from expressing our true selves. It’s about finding that balance – listening to our fear, understanding its roots, and then making a rational decision about whether it’s a genuine warning or an irrational barrier.

For instance, if you’re hesitant to speak up in a situation because you fear physical harm, that’s fear serving its protective purpose. But if you’re holding back your ideas because you’re afraid of judgment or rejection, that is a moment where fear is mostly likely not serving you well.

We need to learn to differentiate between these two situations and not let fear lead us when it’s going to hinder us in the long run. 

This involves a level of self-awareness and self-reflection where we question our fears, weigh their validity, and decide whether they deserve to guide our decisions.

It’s about taking back control from our fears, heeding the warning light from the  lighthouse, but not letting it steer the ship.

So, remember, while it’s essential to challenge and overcome unnecessary fears, but it’s equally important to respect fear when it’s genuinely looking out for us. 

It’s this balanced approach that helps us navigate our path with wisdom and courage.

This is why awareness is key. 

By recognising our tendencies to self-silence, we can start to understand the ‘why’ behind it. Are we afraid of judgment, of not being accepted, or is it something else?

This awareness is the first step in challenging those fears and breaking the cycle of self-silencing. It involves introspection, honesty with ourselves, and sometimes, a bit of courage to face what we find.

The Internal Impact of Self-Silencing

When we silence our true selves, because of these fears, we create this barrier, not just between us and others, but within ourselves.

It’s like every time you choose not to express your true self, a brick is added to this internal wall. And over time, the wall becomes so thick we can’t break through. 

We start to feel disconnected, not just from the people around us but from our very selves.

This can have a much deeper impact than we might realise. It can affect how we view ourselves, our self-esteem, and even our mental and emotional well-being. 

It’s like we’re constantly telling ourselves that our true thoughts and feelings aren’t valid or important enough to be shared. And that kind of message, repeated over and over again internally, can really take a toll.

This is why understanding and working to overcome self-silencing is so important.

It’s not just about being able to speak up and share our ideas with others; it’s about breaking down that internal wall so we can feel whole, connected, and authentic both inside and out.

In the next few episodes I’ll dig deeper into the reasons why you might be self silencing, to help you gain a clear understand as to why you are specifically holding back.

But I encourage you to reflect on your own experiences with self-silencing as you go forward, so you can develop an awareness around this.

To help with identifying why you might be self-silencing, check out the What’s Holding Your Back? Self-Silencing Quiz.


For more insights, don’t forget to check out my book “Stop Self-Silencing”, and if you want support from me to help you on your visibility journey as an impact maker or coach, join my mini-membership The Visibility Lab, or come have a chat with me!

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