Speak Your Truth
Stand before the people you fear and speak your mind – even if your voice shakes. –Maggie Kuhn
Why do we lie?
We’d like to believe, if we consider ourselves decent human beings, that we lie only to spare someone’s feelings or protect them. But for most of us, this is just not true. We are also likely to lie to spare or protect ourselves, to avoid confrontation, or even just to make our lives easier.
How many times have you agreed with someone or fudged your opinion because you didn’t want to “get into a big thing” about what you really thought? Or because you didn’t want to make the effort of explaining your position? Or because you wanted someone’s approval? Or to spare yourself the vulnerability of putting your true thoughts and feelings out there where they could get trounced on? How many times have you said the easiest thing instead of the most honest thing?
Such lying is largely socially acceptable. We learn early in life to be indirect, to hint and insinuate rather than state clearly. We may even learn that clearly stating our wants, needs, and opinions is rude. While in certain settings indirectness may be good etiquette, in the vast majority of situations, it serves only to create chasms of miscommunication and misunderstanding between people. If this is true, then why is dishonesty, particularly in the form of indirectness, so rampant in our culture?
I believe the real reason is prophylactic. When you speak your truth, you risk a lot. You put yourself out in the universe at large, and everyone and everything in it has an opportunity to take a poke at you. It makes sense that you would want to avoid this possibility.
But the prophylactic nature of this tactic protects you not only from embarrassment and humiliation, it also protects you from good outcomes. If you are not willing to risk bad outcomes to experience good ones, you end up not having many important outcomes in your life at all.
“Speaking your truth” means to share what’s important to you. To state clearly what you want and what you need. To talk honestly about your values and your goals, your opinions and your thoughts, your dreams and your deepest desires. You don’t do this all the time with everybody, of course, but you also don’t back away from it, either, when open sharing the right thing to do. And it goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that speaking your truth is not about hurting other people. Thoughts and opinions about others have nothing to do with our personal truths. Sometimes people don’t like what you have to say, but you ought never say things to be deliberately cruel.
Not speaking your truth diminishes you. It’s like saying you don’t believe you matter enough to speak about, share, define, or defend your self. That who you really are is too much effort to try to explain. But if ever there was an effort worth making, it’s being honest about your wants, needs, values, and desires.
Perhaps most importantly, you must be vulnerable if you want to have real connections with other people. You must be willing to put yourself out there if you want any sort of responses in kind. The only way to do that is to share your truth as authentically as you can.
Habitually not speaking your truth reverberates throughout your psyche, infecting your self-image, your self-awareness, and your relationships with insincerity. If you wonder sometimes why you feel disconnected, from yourself or from other people, start here, with how well (or not) you speak your own truth. It may take you awhile to figure out what it is, but it’s there. And once you start paying attention, more and more awareness will bubble to the surface.
Knowing and speaking our truth has no stopping point. We are always defining our truth at ever deepening levels of understanding, always working to state it with more conciseness and clarity. This process of deeper and deeper self-awareness is the very essence of personal development.
Learn to speak your truth. Say what’s on your mind, gently but with confidence. It’s where authenticity begins. It can be scary, yes. But it’s also something we have complete control over. Knowing that we can choose when, how much, and with whom we bare our souls is empowering. It’s how we give the gift of our self to the world–and I promise you, this is a gift the world hungers for.