294 Days ’til 40: Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say

03 May

“I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephant’s faithful one-hundred percent!”  ~ Dr. Seuss

“Then you should say what you mean,” the March Hare went on. “I do,” Alice hastily replied; “at least – at least I mean what I say – that’s the same thing, you know.” ~ Lewis Carroll

Say what you mean and mean what you say.  So simple….. so complicated.  WHY is it that so many of us struggle to say what we mean?  I have personally found that many of the people who do not say what they mean or mean what they say can fall into a few categories.

1.  The kind souls.  These are the people who do not mean what they say because they are terrified of hurting someone’s feelings.  They will compliment a friend on a bad haircut, horrible looking outfit, or painful solo at church.  They cannot imagine telling the truth because they would feel horrible if they caused any sort of pain or discomfort to others.

2.  The bullies.  Bullies use their words to try to manipulate and control people, but often their bluff can be called.  They are the type that may say, “If you do not change my child’s grades I will sue you.”  My response to a person like this is usually, “Do what you feel you have to do.”  Of course, they rarely follow through, and they also lose their credibility because there is little follow through.  In a play I was in an actor gave the director an ultimatum: “change my choreography, or I will quit.”  The director then said, “we will miss you!”  The actor was left shocked and astonished…. he had not really meant to quit, but had not thought through the consequences of his threat and he was shocked to find himself no longer in the production.

3.  The people pleasers.  People pleasers often tell people what they think they want to hear, rather than the truth.  They want to be liked so much that they care more about producing the “right” answer in a situation than the honest answer.  Little children can often fall prey to this reality.

It is FREEING to be able to say what you mean and mean what you say.  A person does not need to be rude or mean, just direct and honest.  I find that I am respected more when individuals know that they can count on me to be honest with them.  They depend on that no-nonsense conversation.  I also find that I feel happier when I am able to be honest, because I am living life in an authentic way.

I find that the kind souls are often superficial and living without deep connections, the bullies are bitter and alone, and the people pleasers have much anxiety as they have inflicted upon themselves a great responsibility for the happiness of others.

Today, 294 days ’til 40, I will continue to strive to be genuine and honest in my interactions with others.  As I do so, I know that my life connections with others will be more fulfilling.



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75 responses to “294 Days ’til 40: Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say

  1. seakist

    May 3, 2012 at 00:08

    Hell yeah! I LOVE this post on so many levels and there is so much more to add to it.

    How about the new age types who are afraid to say anything negative because they believe it makes them look like they are not living perfectly in the light, and that anything no matter how bad should just be blown off like it’s nothing? I used to work with someone like that and here’s an example of how annoying he was …

    One night a guy lost his wallet.

    New Age guy goes, “Did you hear that guy screaming?” and rolls his eyes.

    Me: “Well, yeah, of course, he lost his wallet!”

    New Age guy, “Oh c’mon, it’s not the end of the world!”

    Then I ripped him one. “Well, to some people it is! I keep everything in my wallet. And you know damn well if you lost your wallet you’d be pretty pissed too!”

    He put his head down and walked away.

    People can act like they don’t care about things, but I’ll be the first to put them in their place in order to keep it real! (That’s why I love blogging, I always tell it like it is! *wink*)

    • 400daystil40

      May 3, 2012 at 21:25

      Thank you for making me laugh! It is true, the forced happiness (as opposed to genuine contentment, etc.) easily crumbles in the face of any sort of annoyance or adversity.

  2. help4yourfamily

    May 3, 2012 at 00:08

    I have tagged you. I hope you will play and that it will help with your writer’s block 🙂

  3. seakist

    May 3, 2012 at 00:08

    And another thing — I have a mother who isn’t speaking to me (over two years now) because I was simply honest with her and didn’t approve of her behavior during a holiday season when she came to my house. I am still being punished for my honesty.

    • 400daystil40

      May 3, 2012 at 21:24

      Wow, that is so hard… I have had similar experiences and it is always so disheartening.

  4. rabidmongoose

    May 3, 2012 at 00:10

    Convicting…I have traditionally fallen into your category #3 because my sense of self is externally located. As I work with my counselor to correct that problem I hope to be able to live more freely the way you describe here. Thank you for reminding me of an area I need to work on!

    • 400daystil40

      May 3, 2012 at 21:24

      You are welcome – I think this is an area that most of us need to work on!

  5. becca3416

    May 3, 2012 at 00:23

    Nothing wrong with a little inspiration from childrens’ books. I get mine from Dr. Seuss everyday. I strive to be none of the three types of people you described, however, I am guilty of 1 and 3 occasionally. This post reminded me that I need to make more of an effort to speak my mind in an honest but respectful way without beating around the truth out of fear (and not just while blogging ;)).

    • 400daystil40

      May 3, 2012 at 21:23

      I love Dr. Seuss! Is there really any greater wisdom??? 🙂

  6. anotherthousandwords

    May 3, 2012 at 00:26

    Honesty IS the best policy…many will try to shoot that adage down. ‘Fergeddaboudum’! Lies breed more lies, and even more lies…which the liar is unable to keep track of.

    • 400daystil40

      May 3, 2012 at 21:23

      Yes, exactly! I have said that so many times when working with people who lie.

  7. Lady T

    May 3, 2012 at 01:21

    Good piece. Loving a people-pleaser is so frustrating. They truly don’t realize the dishonesty in what they’re doing, keeping all relationships set to the exact temperature that makes them comfortable. Sometimes I think they themselves can’t even identify their own feelings anymore after so much acting.

    • 400daystil40

      May 3, 2012 at 21:21

      Yes, you are so correct. I do think they get so caught up in saying what they think they want others to hear that they do indeed completely lose themselves and their own identity – great point.

  8. charlesmashburn

    May 3, 2012 at 01:45

    Honesty is always the best policy. Say what you mean, and mean what you say. You can’t go wrong when speaking–and living–the truth.
    Great post! Another dandy!

  9. writerwannabe763

    May 3, 2012 at 02:00

    It is very true..I did a similar blog but did not cover what you did…..I would find it difficult to tell someone they looked terrible or fat or skinny in an outfilt though …but I might find something non-commital about the total look ….such as the color is good….it’s a ME thing…Of course if it was a close friend who really wanted my opinion than I would be a good friend and say it doesn’t flatter them …..Diane

    • 400daystil40

      May 3, 2012 at 21:20

      I once worked at a clothing store and we were told to tell the women they looked good in everything they tried on so we would sell the clothes… I could not do it…. I think I lasted 6 weeks.

  10. sahbinahvioletflynn

    May 3, 2012 at 02:12

    Great post! One of the first agreements from Don Miguel Ruiz, “Be Impeccable with Your Word”.

  11. appletonavenue

    May 3, 2012 at 02:40

    I can identify with your definitions of people. I have worked with them, the worst was our landlord for `10 years. He tried to bully me once, I called his bluff, and after that it seemed he was afraid of me.

    • 400daystil40

      May 3, 2012 at 21:19

      Oh no, I cannot imagine dealing with a bully for ten years. It does feel amazing when their bluff is called, and often scary to do so… but in the end so very empowering.

  12. Lesbian Interrupted

    May 3, 2012 at 03:07

    WHY is it so hard for people to do this? There is a very thin line between brutal honesty and being a bully. I tend to be a brutally honest person and find myself wishing others would pay me the same respect. How can I grow myself if people don’t love me enough to tell me where I fail?

    • 400daystil40

      May 3, 2012 at 21:18

      Very true. I agree with you, I wish others would be that honest with me and I really appreciate it and respect the people who are brave enough to be able to be that honest.

  13. Louise Behiel

    May 3, 2012 at 03:17

    well said. I’ve also learned i don’t have to say anything. Not everyone benefits from my opinion…LOL

    • 400daystil40

      May 3, 2012 at 21:17

      Good point too – sometimes I find it hard to hold my tongue!!!!!

      • Louise Behiel

        May 3, 2012 at 22:36

        that was a brutal lesson for me. i’m re-learning it right now with some family stuff.

  14. handustry

    May 3, 2012 at 04:49

    I say I’d fit in category 1 and 3. And this has caused me so much pain and, in the end, I didn’t please anyone (LOL now because I can laugh at this irrational pursuit of “happiness”)

    Of course I noticed since I decided to voice my own true opinion that I’ve lost quite a few friends and most of my relatives are still under shock, but as you wrote so eloquently, people are getting to respect me much more and appreciate me even more because they are getting the actual picture of myself and not just a pale portrait of what I think they want to see.

    Interestingly enough, I don’t need to speak louder or use an angry tone
    when I have to express my disagreement

    • 400daystil40

      May 3, 2012 at 21:16

      I find that when I speak the truth I have some people who cannot handle it, as you have, but others who respect me so much – and still others that thank me because they feel it gives them permission to open up and be honest too.

  15. irishsignora

    May 3, 2012 at 04:59

    Amen. There’s a big difference between tact and dishonesty, and you summed it up most eloquently!

  16. Sara

    May 3, 2012 at 05:33

    I agree.

    Although, I do tend to mitigate my comments to try to keep the truth from stinging too much. For instance, once my friend got a bad haircut. I didn’t say “Ugh, it’s awful.” I said, “I liked it better the other way.” Then followed up with the all important, “Do you like it? Well that’s all that matters.”

    • 400daystil40

      May 3, 2012 at 21:15

      Yes, I try to do that as well – sometimes I am more successful than others.

  17. Lucianus Mauricius

    May 3, 2012 at 05:41

    You know pal, this exactly my problem in life. I’m the kind of person who is straight-forward with the people I care about, but most times this gets me into trouble, cose no one really wants to hear the truth. Since I’m a passionate person, and I’ve had life experiences my friends will never dream of having, I see things differently than most, but try and tell that to someone who’s life view is limited, who himself in many respects is a limited man, and you’ll see the consequences. One thing I’ve learn to do is wait for the person to ask me, and than answer, I no longer offer my opinion as freely as before, besides, it’s the best way to lose friends and make enemies. Yet, I’m truthful as much as I can, and I wouldn’t compromise on that, specially in me interpersonal relationships. Great post btw.

    • 400daystil40

      May 3, 2012 at 21:14

      Yes, you are correct… some people certainly cannot handle the truth in any way… really sad because the person they are lying to the most is themselves.

  18. laurenc129

    May 3, 2012 at 07:11

    It’s easy to forget how much power our words have. We can’t unspeak the words we have said. We can’t unhear the words that are spoken to us. It’s an important thing to remember. And it really does make you feel better to not have to worry about whether or not you are saying the right thing. Thanks for the reminder! 🙂

  19. thelastsongiheard

    May 3, 2012 at 08:19

    I’ll sometimes get into more trouble for saying what I mean LOL On the flip side, even when I say what I mean, the other person will usually say “well what you really mean is….”

    No! Damnit, if i’d wanted to say that, I would’ve said it!!

    (There’s some frustration there :P)

    • 400daystil40

      May 3, 2012 at 21:10

      Oh no, that would drive me crazy. I would not want someone correcting me constantly.

  20. viveka

    May 3, 2012 at 10:09

    To say what we think – it’s sometime a very fine line .. how honest should we be ???

    • 400daystil40

      May 3, 2012 at 21:09

      Yes, it is hard because people do not always like to hear our honest comments.

      • viveka

        May 3, 2012 at 21:51

        I know .. and sometimes … because you know how hurt they will be.

  21. cav12

    May 3, 2012 at 10:24

    My thoughts exactly. Honesty is the best policy but being tactful helps.

  22. Philip Edwards

    May 3, 2012 at 11:56

    This blog entry is a great read. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I am reminded of lyrics by (The Fixx)…

    “Why don’t they do what they say?
    Say what they mean
    One thing leads to another”…

    People— diversity—difficulties—sadness—happiness—complexities—simplicities—
    what-a-ride. Communication-oh yeah!

    Thank you and looking forward to future posts while you continue your quest…

    Phil E.

  23. Philip Edwards

    May 3, 2012 at 12:42

    Thank you! I enjoyed your post from May 3rd…

    People…diversity—difficulties—happiness—sadness—creativity—certainty and anxiety.
    Communication—Oh Yeah!

    Reminded me of these lyric by (The Fixx).

    “Why don’t they do what they say?
    Say what they mean
    One thing leads to another”…

    Thanks again, for sharing your thoughts.
    I look forward to reading many of your posts as you continue your quest.

    Phil Edwards

    • 400daystil40

      May 3, 2012 at 21:08

      Yes, what great lyrics!!! Thank you so much for sharing them!

  24. New Hampshire Garden Solutions

    May 3, 2012 at 15:40

    One of the most liberating moments in my life came when i finally realized that happiness comes from within, and that there was absolutely nothing I could say or do to MAKE someone else happy.

  25. dpbowman

    May 3, 2012 at 16:34

    “Stay mad, but behave like normal people. Run the risk of being different, but learn to do so without attracting attention. She must learn to care less about annoying others.” from Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho. A great read and about learning to speak and live on your own terms.

  26. Spider42

    May 3, 2012 at 17:32

    I do try to be honest and say what I mean and mean what I say, but it seems that life throws situations at you (especially depending on what profession and other such life-choices you’ve made) and you can’t always do it.
    But those of us who wish to, do our best.
    For my part I think that when I do fail to speak freely, it oscillates somewhere between type 1 and 3 – I don’t like bullying or bullies. Period.

    • 400daystil40

      May 3, 2012 at 21:05

      Yes, sometimes it is hard, particularly at work (REALLY hard sometimes). Me too, I hate bullies and I find that when people are nasty I am happy to walk away from them and keep them out of my life…. harder when they are at work.

  27. Gabriella Deveraux

    May 3, 2012 at 18:17

    Okay I will say that most of the time I am the “People Pleaser” and you are right it causes a great deal of ANXIETY…It’s awful not being able to say NO and always wanting to make people HAPPY! I have learned just recently though there is a better way to handle some things and that is to say NO but with kindness and compassion. This seems to be working.. Love your post idea by the way and thanks for liking mine too. Have you checked out any of my books yet?

    • 400daystil40

      May 3, 2012 at 21:02

      Thanks for your comment! Great point about saying no, but doing so with kindness.

  28. Karen Mattox Caldwell

    May 3, 2012 at 19:51

    Absolutely loved it! I used to have a saying on my computer screen years ago that says “Say what you mean, mean what you say, but don’t say it mean!”

  29. Grayfox183

    May 3, 2012 at 21:56

    I find the people pleasers to be the most difficult. The kind souls withhold information and the bullies are obvious in their attempts at cruelty. It’s the people pleasers who fabricate stories or change facts to put themselves in a better light.

    • 400daystil40

      May 3, 2012 at 21:57

      Interesting point! Yes, I agree that they must make up lots of lies – though I know the bullies can do similar.

  30. elliebloo

    May 3, 2012 at 22:59

    Very very true. Very thought provoking post!

    • 400daystil40

      May 4, 2012 at 08:43

      Thanks so much! A lesson we can always remind ourselves of!

  31. Lady T

    May 4, 2012 at 00:11

    Jesus said it best: “Let your yes be yes and your no be no”.

    • 400daystil40

      May 4, 2012 at 08:43

      Thank you for sharing this, so perfectly said.

  32. Oster's Mom

    May 4, 2012 at 03:28

    This is great! Taking responsibility for your words is crucial. Please, say what you mean. I can take it. But don’t bully me (not you, just in general 🙂 ).

  33. The Wanderlust Gene

    May 7, 2012 at 09:42

    It’s sad but true, our social norms seem to be governed by what I call ‘habitual truth’, which could just as well be called lying – those little white lies that oil over conflict and uncertainty. The first step out of that hoary conundrum is to keep your mouth shut; say nothing or change the subject – people soon get the drift and little by little our opinions will be sought – and then it’s safe to say it as it is. Now sometimes, we have to take up the sword and fight for what’s right – in those cases, we just have to take the consequences of saying things that might be unpopular. Other times, let our silence be the oil of social peace, unless of course, our silence could be construed as tacit approval of something we disapprove of, or disagree with.

    • 400daystil40

      May 7, 2012 at 22:41

      So very true, what a great comment! I often struggle with your last point… the reality that silence can imply approval and that can be dangerous….

      • The Wanderlust Gene

        May 8, 2012 at 03:09

        Yes, it’s something we will have felt since we didn’t stand up and challenge the name caller, or the schoolyard bully …

  34. marsha4852

    May 14, 2012 at 08:03

    Interesting blog. When looking it over a few days ago, I didn’t realize it was a way to stave off Writer’s Block. Again, interesting idea.

    As far as this particular days post, I’ve always thought of integrity, when saying mean what you say and say what you mean. Honesty fits as well I suppose as well as integrity.

    From what I’ve seen so far, it appears that you don’t have Writer’s Block, 🙂

    • 400daystil40

      May 14, 2012 at 08:36

      Thanks for your encouraging comments! 🙂


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