“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.” Martin Luther King Jr
Do you voice your opinion about the things that matter to you? Or do you bite your tongue and keep your thoughts to yourself? Do you have trouble asking for what you need or you’ve given up because you don’t feel heard? I’d like to invite you to consider that by NOT speaking your truth – in your relationships, in your career, and really in every area of your life – you aren’t doing anyone a favor by staying silent. Even if ‘not rocking the boat’ is your preference, speaking your truth is an essential component of living an authentic life. Martin Luther King Jr. said it best, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.”
Since this is just between us, consider an area of your life where you aren’t speaking your truth. Have you been honest with your partner about your needs or a problem? Have you said ‘no more’ to that friend who always wants your advice but never acts on it and drains your time and energy each time she calls? Have you asked for that promotion or spoken up about that project you spearheaded but the other guy took the credit? Have you decided ‘it isn’t my business’ so you haven’t said anything about an obvious act of abuse or injustice? Have you ignored your ‘inner voice’ and continue to put off sharing your gifts and talents with the world?
Starting to feel a little uncomfortable? Stay with me! It may help you to understand WHY you don’t speak up so you can overcome it. I would venture to say that 90% of the time it’s because of FEAR. You know that FEAR is really an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real right?
Fear of asking for what we want. Fear that we won’t get it if we do ask. Fear of conflict. Fear we will look ridiculous or vulnerable by sharing who we really are or what we really want. Fear of the consequences of being a whistle-blower or telling the truth. Fear that someone might leave us or call us crazy. Fear of change. Fear of responsibility. Fear of being rejected. Fear of letting go of a toxic relationship.
If any of this resonates, I invite you to continue reading because there are tangible benefits to speaking your truth. Consider that most of the great leaders and innovators like Jesus, Leonardo Da Vinci, and even Ghandi weren’t necessarily popular at first but ‘spoke their truths’ which ultimately created collective changes that still has gifts for humanity today.
I’d like to offer some simple steps to start the conversation because I understand that ‘speaking out’ can be nerve-wracking. But consider the ‘cost’ of how it affects you by staying silent. Perhaps those ‘costs’ are things like repressed anger, or not moving forward to heal old wounds or maybe that book never gets written or that great idea never gets off the ground. What will change by you staying silent?
And may I remind you that you don’t necessarily need to ‘change the world’ to begin. Is there a ‘truth’ you haven’t admitted to yourself? Start there. Maybe the relationship you are in isn’t going to work no matter what you say. Maybe it’s time to look for another job or a new set of friends. Maybe it’s time to ‘get real’ about that addiction or habit, or whatever is really holding you back from taking that risk or making a positive change in your life.
You might start with creating a personal truth mission statement or just answering the following questions to get a better understanding of what your truth is:
What issues am I passionate about?
Where do I have trouble speaking up?
Where does this hesitancy come from?
Is there anyone (including myself) I haven’t been honest with?
What’s the cost of not saying anything?
Is my fear greater than the consequences?
Are the consequences worth it? Why or why not?
Try speaking your truth for one week and see how it goes. For example, when a friend asks how you are doing…“Hi Sally, how’s life? Instead of I’m fine! try: “I’m considering a change at work and I’m a little stressed, would you pray for me (or help me think about this in a more positive light)?” Or when your significant other asks what you want for dinner – don’t say, “Whatever you want dear” if you really want to try that new Thai restaurant. Write down a truth you would like to share and ask yourself “What’s the worst thing that could happen to me by sharing this?” Then ask, “What’s the best thing?” You might be surprised that ‘the truth’ is the best gift you can ever give…to yourself and someone else!