Supressiing Stress

How Does Suppressing Speech Cause Stress?

by Kalinda Rose Stevenson

Stress and Freedom of Expression

No person is your friend who demands your silence,
or denies your right to grow.

Alice Walker
Suppressing speech and silencing speech are powerful stressors. How much does it cost you in life energy and happiness to be forced into silence? (The following excerpt is from Stress Relief That Works.)
Suppressing Speech

Stress and Suppression of Speech

Silencing speech is one of the strongest causes of stress. Speaking ability is one of the defining characteristics of humanity. Freedom of speech is a fundamental tenet of human rights in the United States Constitution. The First Amendment protects these rights:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Despite this legal freedom to speak without being silenced by the government, no laws exist to prevent people from being silenced by the people in their lives. Many people know what it's like to be afraid to speak. Freedom of speech is the first right taken away by tyrants, bullies, and abusers. Throughout human history, the powerful have silenced those they oppress. The demand for silence conceals oppression and abuse. Those who control your speech control you.

Suppression of speech is a powerful stressor. The freedom to say out loud what you're thinking and feeling is a deep urge within most people. How do you talk about your feelings and your desires? Do you dare to speak about your dreams? Or are your dreams ridiculed or criticized? Would anyone listen to you if you talked about what matters to you? How much does it cost you in suppressed energy to keep silent about what you really care about?

Stress Reaction

Stress is your constricting reaction to someone or something you perceive as potentially harmful to you. Are you too afraid to say something in response to what someone else has said or done? Are you free to object, to complain, to talk back? Or are you scared into silence? The more imbalance in power between the one who has freedom to say anything to you while you have no freedom to speak, the greater the stress you experience.

The one with power speaks. The one without power is forbidden to speak. To be silenced is to experience powerful stressors that take the form of threats of what will happen to you if you speak. Whether the threat is overt — "I will kill you if you tell" — or whether it's implicit, if you're the one who is silenced you know that your survival depends on remaining silent and keeping secrets.

Being forced to comply with such demands is a powerful stressor. You're being commanded to do something against your will because you'll lose something if you don't. How do you respond to such threats? Do you speak despite the threats? Do you submit to enforced silence? Do you tell anyone else? Whatever you do, threats that demand your silence are profoundly stressful and can have lifelong consequences.

[Original Post November 12, 2015]

If you are feeling stressed-out and want to read the whole book, Stress Relief That Works: How To Think Your Way from Stressed-Out to Peaceful is available on Amazon in either Kindle or paperback versions. Click Buy Now From Amazon to get your copy right away!

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