Stuffing Your Words vs. Speaking Up

Bravery in Today’s Culture – Part 2

Q. Would you please talk more about staying brave when someone is giving you “the look” or other hurtful messages of disrespect?

A. Let’s Talk! Last week, we talked about the broad range of disrespectful effects, all on a continuum of violence called bullying. I heard from a number of readers that had experienced great hurt from some of these “even more subtle” actions over their lifetime.

Immediately after someone gives you “the look” (or any of the other acts of disrespect on the list), it is very hard to know what to say or do. Whew! What an awful moment. Some ideas for replies from last week were: say “stop” or “please stop” or “that hurts.” If the disrespect continues, there is another line of communication that I can suggest. You might say, “We have a problem. What do you think we need to do to make things better?” You can even express this in writing after the fact. You as the “victim” are empowered by initiating conversation about the disrespect with your perpetrator. This a real victory even if the perpetrator refuses to respond. You have unstuffed and are BRAVE! You didn’t ignore or

Ignoring or stuffing our hurt is not a healthy choice. It leads to profound social/emotional issues with devastating consequences. Let me briefly share some data that I have been sharing for about 14 years. If you look at the studies about victims of molestation and other kinds of abuse, you will see indicators that when victims stuff their rage and focus on their perpetrator, about 95 percent of the time “patterning” is likely and the victim then becomes “like” his/her bully, repeating what was done to her/him. We become like that on which we focus.

You see this in the back stories of the high-profile school shooters for the last two decades. They were teased and taunted, but stuffed their rage (didn’t speak up) and focused on their bullies. Years later they became “like” their bullies because of the principle of patterning. This is not excusing, but is a life principle that hurt multiplies when rage is stuffed and not expressed. Speaking up is so vital! God has called us to reconciliation, recovery, and restoration, so our messages are bridges if the victims can be the BRAVE ones to initiate peace!

One of our readers told me about a song called “Brave,” by Sara Bareilles who is empowering young girls to speak up and speak out when someone hurts them. It is right on track. Check out “Brave” on youtube. Thank you, Sara. You go, girl!

It is just not OK to let others hurt us without our speaking up and setting a boundary. If you feel you can’t speak up, will you find someone to speak up for or with you? You really matter. And, let’s remember, the bully was once a victim himself that didn’t get help . . . and then the act was repeated.

For Deeper Reflection

Ephesians 4: 26, 31, 32 “Be angry and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”

Proverbs 18: 21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue . . . .”

Psalm 15: 2-3 “[He who] walks in integrity, and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart. He does not slander with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend . . . [will never be shaken].”

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.


  1. Let’s Talk says:

    […] wrote an earlier column on the dangers of stuffing and a secret life. Not wearing masks gives us integrity – the same is seen inside and out. As my […]