Melissa Lee-Tammeus, PhD/LMHC
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You Can't Say That! or Can You?

In the United States, we have this thing called free speech. We can say whatever we like, however we like. Granted, at times, it may be distasteful, brutal, or lack sincerity and truth, but never the less, we are granted the right to say it.

You may pay some sort of price for it, though.

You can work and then come home and complain about work. But you could get fired the next day based on the rules of your employment.

You can come home and then complain about the government’s policies with no thought of concern about the FBI at your door. But, then again, there’s a limit to that as well.

But even then, you do have a right to fight for justice, whatever that may mean to you. According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (n.d.), you are entitled to “the right to freedom of opinion and expression” (Article 19).

In case there’s any confusion regarding what this right entails, the document clarifies: “this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas . . . regardless of frontiers” (Universal Declaration, n.d., Article 19).

So, let’s take this down a notch.

How much interference are you giving yourself in sharing your thoughts, ideas, dreams, insecurities, etc., etc., etc.?

How many chains are you putting on yourself in holding back what you really want to, need to, have to say?

How often do you truly exercise this right?

How often do you hold back for the sake of someone’s feelings? Or the fear of embarrassment? Or the anxiety of judgment?

How much are you not saying because you are afraid of the change it may bring?

There may be a legitimate reason why you are not exercising your free speech. After all, picking your battles is important. Getting fired may not be worth a moment of free speech. Joking about your need to blow up a government building due to the long line at the DMV may not quite be worth the time spent in the security area of your local police department.

But, how much are you holding back at the expense of your needs? Your desires? Your morals? Your sense of self? Your self esteem?

It may be time to exercise that right of free speech.

Because you may be paying the price for not doing it too.


Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (n.d.) Retrieved from