Speaking Your Truth Even If Your Voice Shakes
Your palms are sweating
Your heart is pounding
You have a knot in the pit of your stomach
You have something you want or need to say to someone and you fear their response
It might be to:
- Clear the air about a misunderstanding
- Set a boundary
- Speak up for yourself
- Challenge someone to take responsibility for something
- Say no to a request
- Ask for an apology or make amends
- Reveal a secret
- Position yourself in a more visible way in your business
- Ask for the sale….
There are a number of situations that can ignite so much fear and discomfort that you just want to run away or ignore the situation. You might think you’d rather have a root canal that face whatever person or situation you’d like to avoid and yet…there it is.
A client of mine, I’ll call Ann, is having marital problems. She’s been on a path of personal transformation for many years and has become more comfortable in her own skin, being true to who she knows herself to be. Her husband has been in and out of counseling. Each time he comes close to breaking through some blocks, he stops and buries himself in his work.
Several months ago Ann got honest with her husband about some things she had been withholding for quite some time. She’d been afraid to talk to him because her husband has a strong personality and is very good at verbal retaliation and turning things back on her. She finally gathered the courage and strength to fess up to some things that had been upsetting her. In fact all of her pent up feelings came tumbling out of her mouth. Splat.
Her husband felt like she had just dropped a bomb on him and he fell apart. He thought things were fine. Now, they are both back in counseling to see how their marriage can be saved.
Why are we so afraid and uncomfortable to face situations head on with others so we can clear the air and potentially resolve conflicts that can result in a stronger, more intimate, and trusting relationship – whether it is a marriage, friendship, or even a business relationship?
Common reasons and excuses we use to talk ourselves out of speaking up:
- Maybe I’m making too much of this. (minimizing)
- I’ll say something the next time it happens. It’s too late to talk about it now. (avoidance)
- It’s not such a big deal. (discounting, diminishing)
- It won’t change things anyway. In fact, it will probably make things worse so why bother? It’s not worth it. (rationalizing)
We expect, imagine, and anticipate
- The other person can’t handle what I have to say. They will take it personally, be hurt or offended.
- They will judge, criticize, tease me or make me the bad guy (again)
- They won’t understand, agree, or really hear me
- They might get angry and stop liking/loving me
- I’ll be abandoned emotionally, physically, or spiritually
- I’ll be punished in some way
- I’ll lose my composure and get too emotional
- I won’t say it right
- I’ll look, sound, or feel like an idiot
The anticipation alone of what you negatively imagine might happen can scare you into silence! And, if you have had past experiences that have gone poorly, you’ve probably collected lots of evidence as to why keeping your mouth shut might be a good idea.
Stuffing feelings in silence doesn’t just disappear inside and go away. There isn’t a rug big enough to sweep things under that will stay hidden indefinitely. If we aren’t able to release pain and upset to come to a place of peace inside, the energy we use to keep all the feelings wrapped up tightly will either erupt in ways we regret, manifest illness, or create psychological problems. That’s why Ann blew. She couldn’t contain her pain and anger any longer.
What she didn’t initially realize is the person she was most upset with was herself, even though she understood why she had gone along with things silently. Now she is making peace within herself as she works on her marriage. The better you come to know who you are both as a human and spiritual being, the harder it becomes to ignore when you feel mis-aligned with your Self.
Tips to create a positive conversation:
1. You are 100% responsible for how and what you think, feel and do – how you show up and you express yourself, verbally and non-verbally. That includes making amends to others when they are appropriate. I usually know what I need to do that because I experience inner turmoil and lots of negative self-talk. You may feel that what you said or did was your truth and make amends about how you said or did something. You are not 100% responsible for how people interpret what you say, think, feel and do – they are.
Stirring things up can open pathways for healing and growth to occur. That is one of the ways we are in service to each other – by having the courage to show up authentically and invite others to do the same without an attachment to whether they can or will.
2. Taking time to sort out your feelings and resolve your own issues prior to having a conversation will invite the best possible outcome. Using techniques such as journaling, meditating, stepping back, venting with someone safe, talking with a coach or counselor can be extremely benefit to get perspective and open your heart.
3. Center yourself in love and light. Send love and blessings to the other person in advance. Intentionally shift into curiosity and openness. Having empathy for the other person will help you speak and listen with love and compassion. In the past when I have been nervous about conversations, I sat down, closed my eyes, took a few deep breaths and prayed to God, “My voice, your words” , with the intention to speak with love. I have found that prayerful request always seemed to bring the right words from my heart and conversations went well.
4. Let go of attachment to the outcome and hold the intention for the conversation to bring healing. Releasing expectations, motives, and agendas allow the experience to naturally flow and unfold. Create the space for each of you to speak your truth with taking it personal. Stay in “I” statements – I think, I feel, I understand, I appreciate... rather than “you” statements which feel accusatory.
5. Some conversations do not need to occur. The situation might feel unsafe or untimely. Emulating the qualities of Unconditional Love can be powerfully healing in relationships and shifts can manifest spontaneously. Knowing the difference between eliminating or delaying a conversation and when you are in avoidance can be tricky. The better you know yourself the more able you will be to discern right action. Use your close circle of friends for help you gain clarity if you are unsure or untrusting about your perspective.
For additional help in dealing with conflicts, check out my article post on A Model For Conflict Resolution
Relationships are the foundation of our life experiences. We are all part of a shared consciousness that connects us to each other, whether we realize it or not. Some of the greatest opportunities to heal and evolve come through painful and uncomfortable experiences. They stretch us, kick us in the butt, make us squirm, and invite us to step into the next and highest version of our soul’s intention.
Does that mean you always speak your mind no matter how it comes out?
Does it mean you impose your thoughts and feelings on other regardless of whether it is welcome? Noooooooooooooooo.
Having healthy, loving relationships involves being vulnerable, willing, and open to share your heart with another even when it is uncomfortable or scary. It is through our conflicts that we test the strength and truth of our relationships. Sharing compassion, forgiveness, and unconditional love for “our humanness” fosters trust and safety because we want to know that people will stick around when we screw up or when things get tough. And, it is up to us to stick around for the people and things we love and value.
How you show up in the world is up to you. How you live and speak your truth is your choice and your responsibility in honoring yourself and others. I believe that when we have the guts to be real even if it creates friction, we are truly in loving service to another person’s growth and healing.
The Serenity Prayer is a great tool for inner conflict
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change
The courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference
Have a great weekend!