If You Can’t Say Anything Nice: A Caution Against Spiritually Abusive Advice
By Toshia Humphries
Have you ever heard the saying, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all?” It always seemed harmless to me. In fact, I once thought it to be good advice for those who seemed to spout out things that were less than positive.
But, through my own recovery and healing process, I began to realize just how oppressive and spiritually abusive that popular saying stands to be.
The Difference Between Being Positive and Being Oppressive
Sure. Silence can be golden when it comes to sitting with ourselves and quieting our minds. But, silencing our boundaries, needs, ideas and feelings – essentially, our voice and our truth – is detrimental to our well-being. As such, it is jeopardizing to our recovery.
When we silence our own voices or the voice of others and suppress our truth and that of others – even if we do so with meme-worthy quotes – we oppress the light child (also known as the inner child) within ourselves and those around us. We are essentially shutting down the healing and forgiveness processes that are so vital to our ability to thrive and serve our soul’s purpose. In other words, this brand of positivity seeks to prevent the necessary first steps of our transformational journey back to ourselves – the one that leads us to our own light and the light of those around us.
There’s nothing positive about that.
Saying No IS Nice
Because recovery is about finding and facing our truth and learning to use our voice, we hope to reach a place where we learn to advocate for ourselves in healthy ways, share our story and stand strong in our truth. This is the case, even and especially if that means carefully confronting loved ones, setting stern boundaries and holding others accountable. And, although it may not seem nice to say no or confront others about unwanted behavior, it is actually an act of love.
As we learn in recovery, we cannot love others if we do not first love ourselves. Therefore, unconditional love begins with the self. Stating our needs, setting boundaries, speaking our experience and advocating for ourselves is honoring, trusting and respecting ourselves – the cornerstones of self-love.
To advise ourselves or anyone else to do otherwise – to go along to get along, to simply let it go and move on or to imply that it is only appropriate to speak when something subjectively defined as nice is uttered – is to engage in oppressive, abusive behavior. It is an act of spiritual abuse.
Though it might not be meme-worthy, say anything your soul needs you to say to feel safe, heard, honored, respected and more. Whether it changes the actions or words of others is irrelevant, as long as you advocate for you. Just keep using your voice and speaking your truth – even if it’s not received as the nice thing to do – because it’s an act of self-love and self-advocacy. Therefore, it is nice to you.