"There are times in our lives when we feel that we should say something which isn't going to please another but finish up keeping our mouth closed instead. I learned very early on in adult life that when one is spontaneous with the expression of their thoughts and feelings, giving vent to them at the moment of their birth often runs the risk of causing offence.
I also think about the many important occasions in life when staying quiet against one's inclinations didn't work out for the best either! Just imagine the opportunity for a parent to positively change some aspect of their behaviour which unknowingly makes their child feel sad or unloved if only a partner, relative, friend or neighbour had felt confident enough to highlight this potential problem. Imagine the amount of hurt never felt by the child.
I once knew a child who was physically ill-treated by their parents and died as a consequence of this abuse. The man would constantly row and fight with his partner; during which their child would start crying and either the father or mother might finish up taking out their anger on the poor child. It was only after the 3-year-old child's death, and a full investigation was being held, that the next door neighbour 'then' reported that the couple rowed daily and that they constantly heard the child crying through the partitioned walls. They never once considered it was their duty to report the matter to the police or Social Services Department when the child lived, as they did not think it their place to interfere!
I knew a professional woman who was fast becoming an alcoholic. Initially, her family and friends seemed to overlook her pattern of having a glass of wine as soon as she arrived home nightly and simply put it down to the stress of her high-powered job and her need to wind down after a busy day at work. Consequently, because nobody felt confident enough to confront her with the nature of her drinking pattern, by the time she eventually accepted that she was alcoholic, her marriage had ended in divorce, she'd lost the custody of her two young children, along with a good job, and had also become a lifelong depressive. I'm not sure what long-term damage was done in her relationship with her children but feel reasonably sure that some irreparable harm had been caused.
I recall during my earlier years as a Probation Officer in Huddersfield, of a problem that I had and which I was wholly unaware of. This was a somewhat delicate problem born out of a genuine loving behaiour of mine and an emotional honesty that I displayed with family, friends and clients. It was during one of my supervisory sessions with my Senior Probation Officer, Wilf Batty, when he brought this behaviour of mine with my clients to my attention. Allow me to explain. It is not unusual in some situations; particularly where the professional worker is ascribed a favourable image by the person they are working with, that a transference of misplaced feelings occur and the worker is perceived by their client in a romantic light.nUnknowingly, in such circumstances, the client often sees the professional worker to be a powerful force in their lives and occasionally they become emotionally over-attached and 'fall in love' with them.
All experienced workers, being aware of this problem, are able to make adjustments to the worker/client relationship if it occurs and emotionally distance themselves, thereby re-establishing proper relationship boundaries in the professional/client relationship. Always having been a touchy feeling person of emotional warmth, who experienced no difficulty in expressing it, was to bring me into more potential danger in my earlier years as a young Probation Officer than most other colleagues faced. While I'd received no complaints from any female clients, often when they visited the Probation Office during my absence and were offered to be seen by other colleagues of mine, many refused outright. This clearly suggested that too many had become too closely attached to me and that I had unwittingly allowed a form of emotional overdependence to develop.
After considering the behavioural pattern identified by my Senior Probation Officer and my overall responses in some situations, I was eventually obliged to conclude that the overwhelming emotions being returned by both male and female clients of mine were ones of genuine love and affection, I had unknowingly allowed some professional boundaries to be crossed. And though there had never been any sexual impropriety involved in any of our relationships, I had to conclude that openly expressing love for another's well being, however innocent the intention, ran the risk of having some sexual intent attached to it. I was essentially advised to keep clearer boundaries in the future and maintain a more professional emotional distance from the client
I might add that this phenomenon is present in many professions such as teachers, doctors, priests; almost any profession where an imbalance of perceived power exists between the professional and the person they work with.
I cannot say that I ever was to alter the person I was, where openly expressing love and genuine concern was concerned, but I did discover that merely being aware of 'what might be happening' in the client's perception of our working relationship, was sufficient to ensure that I avoided all future obstacles and emotional traps that presented themselves.
My life as a Probation Officer, group worker and individual counsellor also taught me that 'keeping one's mouth shut' at the right moment can induce the other person to talk. Just think how many arguments might be prevented if we introduced a pause into the situation of ping pong insults being batted back and forth between protagonists.
The occasions when you should never keep your mouth closed is when someone else is abusing you or their actions are hurting you. Such is an occasion in life where staying quiet can never lead to an improved situation. Imagine how many relationships between men and women might have been given an extended life, if only one person had spoken up earlier about their feelings about this or that! Imagine how many bullied children might have received adult help sooner! The old wive's tale of 'counting to ten' before expressing your anger undoubtedly holds much merit in maintaining control of one's feelings and actions, but so does the modern saying of 'let it all out'; particularly where physical, mental or emotional abuse is being perpetrated against you!
I always remember being told that there is a time in life when it is right to submit and another when it is proper to resist; a time when silence is better in its observance, and a time when the only right thing to do is to speak out. " William Forde: December 12th, 2016.