The last couple of newsletters have been navigating shame and the problem with being good. I want to keep building on those concepts by bringing them into the realm of the actionable, which brings us to speaking your truth.
When I first learned about speaking your truth, I must admit I was a little bothered by it. I figured there is only THE truth, and it doesn't matter what mine is.
As time has passed and I've accumulated more hours in the therapy chair, I now recognize that there is rarely THE truth in the realm of relationships. There is a multiplicity of truths based on each person's perception of the situation.
Which creates the necessity of knowing how to first identify your truth and second how to speak it.
When I say, what is your truth? I am talking about multiple facets.
Today, I am writing you this newsletter from my home office, so my truth right now is I am sitting in my office. Next week, I could write this from a coffee shop - that truth could change.
Other truths shift from moment to moment. I am not hungry right now but I might be in an hour.
And other truths are immutable. I was born in Salt Lake City, UT. That will never change.
Knowing your truth involves staying connected to what you think, feel, want, & need from moment to moment, and It can be much more difficult than it sounds.
As we get better at attuning to our truth, the next step is to put that into action and speak our truth when called upon.
This is where things can really get difficult, depending on your comfort level in voicing your needs.
We get halted in this process ALL of the time for a number of different reasons. If you are a person who struggles to voice what you think, want, need, and feel, see if any of these obstacles resonate with you.
- You were conditioned never to voice your needs because they were seen as inconvenient or disruptive.
- You worry that you are going to hurt someone's feelings if you say what you feel.
- You were taught that your needs don't really matter, and people in your life don't listen when you voice them, so there is no point in doing so.
- You grew up as the parentified child - meaning you had to tend to the needs of your parent(s), which left little to no room for your needs.
- You don't actually know what you think, want, need, or feel because you have never had space to figure that out.
There are more reasons than the ones written here, but these are the common ones I see in my practice and with my clients.
So why is it so important to develop this skill?
I think of this as the emotional equivalent of the law of conservation of energy. Emotions can neither be created nor destroyed; they persist, and the bill will come due for these emotions someday.
It might come due and result in the total breakdown of the relationship, the persistent effects of mental and physical illness, or further disconnection from Self leading to chronic dissociation and numbness.
Often, we want to avoid the acute experience of speaking our truth, and we don't realize we are trading that for the chronic persistence of the symptoms.
Here is an example. I had a client last week tell me that he was "falling out of love" with his partner because of a number of her behaviors that had lasted for years.
He was afraid to tell her these things because he feared damaging the relationship. BUT he failed to see that NOT saying it was equally as damaging as saying it.
He was watching the relationship crumble in front of his eyes while his resentments built. He was trading the acute pain of a difficult conversation for the chronic breakdown fueled by resentment and frustration.
Most of us do not realize we are making that trade whenever we refuse to speak our truth.
So, if speaking our truth is a worthwhile goal, what gets in the way?
Let's reference the previous newsletters: shame & guilt and the quest for being good as opposed to whole are two leading contributors.
If you struggle to speak your truth, here are a couple of questions to ask yourself to better understand the obstacles in your way.
1. Do I feel shame or guilt when I speak my truth? If so, what does that feel like in my body? Is this a familiar feeling? When did I first start to feel this?
2. Do certain wants, needs, feelings, and thoughts violate my perception of being "good"? If so, do I avoid speaking those because I don't want to be "bad" or a burden?
3. Who do I know who speaks their truth freely and candidly? How do I feel toward that person? Am I envious? Offended?
4. what happened when I spoke my truth and asked for what I needed growing up? Was this met with kindness and acceptance? Was it rejected? Do I fear that same reception today when I want to voice my needs?
5. What am I scared of? If I need to tell someone something difficult, what is the scariest thing about that?
These prompts will bring you closer to the barriers that hold you back.
This week, I challenge you to speak your truth in a difficult situation.
It could be something simple like the server getting your order wrong or something more major like a conversation you've needed to have with your partner or best friend.
If you take up this challenge, notice when you get uncomfortable and watch what happens internally when you come up against that edge.
You deserve to speak your truth and have your needs met! But it will take some work. It always does.
Thanks for reading this week!