From the youngest of ages, we are slowly but surely conditioned to suppress who we really are.
As children, we are told to stop being so loud, sit still, don’t talk back, raise our hand, pay attention, or be more like so and so. We are taught to conform and hide the beauty of our free-spiritedness.
Is early conformity still muting your truth?
Consciously or unconsciously, we may still be hindered by a fear of saying the wrong thing and facing reprimand and judgment from others.
That fear may look like…
Having something important to say, but choosing to stay silent.
Saying one thing, but really meaning another.
Talking, but not self-disclosing important thoughts, feelings, needs, and wants.
Feeling like other people’s opinions are more important than your truth.
As you evolve into living truthfully out loud, you may be met with resistance.
Change can be intimidating and undesirable, even when it’s for the good. You may lose some relationships as you allow your authentic truth to be heard. An increase in conflict may occur as family, friends, and colleagues push back against your newfound freedom to think, feel, and communicate.
Be prepared to manage these conflicts by brushing up on techniques that help to calm emotions and increase understanding (See the resource below on conflict).
The journey to becoming and accepting the truth of who you are is a gift that keeps on giving. It blesses you by releasing the fake and revealing the way to self-discovery. It blesses others by allowing them an opportunity to know the real you.
Being truthful does not mean pushy, rude, or opinionated.
It does mean assertive honesty about your thoughts and feelings when asked or compelled to share. Being a powerful truth-teller involves discernment. Just because it’s the truth and you can say it, doesn’t mean you should. Telling the truth at the wrong time and in the wrong way, is bad for relationships, and is best avoided. The best truth-tellers share their thoughts with love, kindness, and relationship building in mind.
No matter the reason that your truth has been on mute, let’s discuss some ways to gradually turn up the volume.
Prepare in advance. Before we start telling other people our truth, we have to know it for ourselves. Writing your truth is a good first step to build clarity and confidence. It also forces you to pause and reflect on the thoughts, beliefs, values, and experiences you want to share with others. During your time of reflection, pay attention to your emotions. If it’s difficult to write your truth, imagine how hard it will be to speak it. You may not want to share the areas that trigger strong emotions until you’ve practiced with smaller truths. That way, your voice of truth is more seasoned as you explore deeper levels of self-disclosure.
Start with small truths. Look for daily opportunities to practice. This can start with embracing your truth in simple daily interactions. When a friend calls and asks you to hang out and you don’t feel up to it, say so. When your husband asks if you’re in a bad mood, and you are, tell him about it. When a colleague asks how you’re doing, give a brief but honest answer beyond “Good” or “Fine.” If people are talking and you have nothing to add to the conversation, stay silent.
Notice your inner critic. You know who she is. That inner voice that dares you to mess up so she can judge and criticize you. Don’t be surprised if she turns up the volume as you step into your truth. When you recognize that your inner critic has arrived, actively escort her to the door. You can do this by fact-checking the thought you are having with accurate information. You can reframe a challenging situation as a learning experience versus a failure. Words of affirmation can quiet the inner judgment. You may also consider working with your therapist or life-coach on other methods to shift your thoughts.
You can’t fail at being yourself, but that doesn’t mean others will accept the beauty of who you are.
You get to decide how far and how fast your truth will reach into your relationships. At the end of the day, the most important person to explore your truth with…is you. Everyone else will be blessed by the ripple effect.