Walking around with an unspoken truth can feel like you’re carrying a heavy weight on your shoulders. Here are some thoughts about why we hold our truths in, and how we can let go of our fear of the consequences to gracefully speak our minds and ultimately, release that burden.
Often, what holds us back from speaking up or out – speaking our truth – is fear of the consequences. We worry that we’ll offend someone or be seen as “impolite” or worse yet, “selfish” or “too much”. Women especially tend to shy away from confrontation. Speaking up for ourselves can sometimes lead to conflict or disagreement, but what are the consequences of NOT speaking up?
When I have found myself reticent to speak up for fear of rocking the boat, it has often led to feelings of powerlessness, increased stress and sometimes even physical illness. I worry that no one takes me seriously or really cares what I have to say. These feelings are real consequences – it’s kind of like a never-ending cycle of passiveness and regret, which then leads to resentment and anxiety. Sound familiar to you?
“It takes courage to consider your own needs and priorities along with the needs of others. But it’s worth it.” – Dr. Christine Carter
Whether at work or at home, when we hold in our inner truths, the consequences can eat away at us and sometimes even damage or destroy relationships. While we might be afraid to say what we mean to say – perhaps we fear we will be seen in a negative light – we can do real damage to ourselves and others when we stay quiet.
Perhaps you decide to speak up at a meeting, only to find that others were thinking the same thing you were. Or maybe you take the risk to talk with your partner about some behaviors that have bothered you for a long time and find out that they are more than willing to change or adapt. You say something to your boss about the amount of time and energy you have dedicated to a project, and find yourself getting a raise during the next review cycle. When we hold back, we are missing out on opportunities for growth in our relationships and in ourselves.
“True belonging and self-worth are not goods; we don’t negotiate their value with the world. The truth about who we are lives in our hearts. Our call to courage is to protect our wild heart against constant evaluation, especially our own. No one belongs here more than you.” – Dr. Brene Brown
Tips for speaking up for yourself:
• Get clear about what it is that is really bothering you about a situation; step back if you need to gather your thoughts
• When you can clearly articulate the issue, make time to speak with the individual about it
• Take deep breaths and remind yourself that you have every right to speak your mind
• When you speak, do so as calmly and clearly as you can
• Listen; give the other person the opportunity to respond to your concerns
• If possible, work with the other to co-create a solution to the issue at hand
You might be surprised at the response you get when you find the courage to stand up and speak your truth.
There comes a time when the need to speak out far outweighs the desire to stay quiet. But you don’t need to wait until the pressure to speak up gets too great – why not start now and begin by saying what you mean, meaning what you say and letting go of unrealistic fears of the consequences?
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” – Anais Nin