Express Your Truth
You've probably heard the phrase, "speak your truth" before. Have you ever thought about what that means?
Your truth is the way that you perceive the world. It is made up of your experiences, the interpretations of your experiences, and the stories you have heard and believed from others' experiences.
[There are ancient philosophical debates over whether there is "a truth" - that is, one single reality that you may or may not fully perceive. For now, let's just focus on the idea that, even if there is "a" truth, your truth is important and vital to be expressed.]
If your truth - your stories, the way you see the world, the thoughts you are having relevant to the conversation in the moment - are not somehow expressed, they are lost. Forever. There will never be another you, seeing the world in this way, able to tell us what life is when seen and experienced as you are doing.
We all need to hear your truths.
Your unique way of seeing and being in the world is part of the whole experience and story of humanity. In understanding who we are, your stories have just as much validity and are just as important to be heard as Einstein's, Mother Theresa's, your mother's, or the truths of the stranger you pass on the street.
It matters for selfish reasons, too. Not only do we need to hear your truths, but for you to feel at peace with your life, you need to speak them.
Have you ever felt uncomfortable when someone says something with which you strongly disagree, but you can't bring yourself to speak up in opposition? Or have you ever felt the inner anxiety of saying something that gets others nodding ... but with which you don't agree?
When your expressions are out of alignment with what you feel and think, your body lets you know.
Your truths don't need to be pretty or perfect. You just need to understand what they are and to live in harmony with them.
And it matters because you co-create your world by what you express. Your expressions create ripples in reality. One opinion shared can lead someone else to have a new perspective, which possibly changes their behavior. One smile offered can shift the recipient's mood. One thought left unspoken may let a conversation continue to deteriorate to the point of causing harm.
With every expression (or every expression withheld), you are creating your (and our) reality.
But Wait .... Cautions of Speaking Your Truth: The FY Attitude
I hope you believe me when I tell you how important it is that you speak your truth. But as a word of warning, I have to address a disturbing trend I've noticed in self-expression.
There seems to have been a recent swell in "speaking up", fueled by current events, our political climate, and, no doubt, the ease of expression through social media. In some ways, this is great. In others, not so much.
Far too many people become assertive with what I call a "fuck-you" attitude. To appease sensitive eyes/ears, I'll call it the "FY" attitude from here. (People-pleaser mode, activated.)
The FY attitude is saying, "I believe what I believe and if you don't, ... FY." This is believing one's truth and shutting out any other possible truths. This cuts off the discussion and solidifies one's own truths to be THE truth and nothing but the truth.
This is just as problematic as not speaking one's truth at all.
The ultimate goal is to learn how to express your truth while hearing all truths (feelings, perspectives), and to learn how to co-exist amidst all of our contradictions and disagreements.
With the FY attitude, this co-existence is impossible. It's like a neighborhood with no roads and all fenced-in yards. Everyone might stay in their happy little holes, but will eventually perish because no one can exist alone.
So if you find yourself speaking up frequently, be sure you are doing so with a NFY (non-fuck-you) attitude. Kindness and curiosity matter just as much as being "right".
One Word At A Time
I've said it before and I'll say it a million more times: Every thought and every action matters. I don't like calling them "little things" (because that trivializes their importance), but the experiences that you have in a typical 60 second period are insanely important. How so?
I firmly believe this:
As you do one thing, so you do all things.
That means that what you practice through those mundane moments are the things that become habits that you exhibit throughout your life.
Each time you refrain from speaking up, you set yourself up to stay silent the next time. Each time you share your thoughts, you make it that much more likely that you will do so again the next time the opportunity arises.
This isn't to say that if you don't speak up when someone tells a hurtful joke that you are doomed to a life of being a doormat. Think of it this way:
Every moment is an opportunity to practice and to set your life on a different course.
With every thought and every action, you bump the path of your life slightly in one direction or the other.
I know, I know - it's not easy.
I vividly recall an incident from high school that still gives me butterflies. I had chosen to audition for the role of the wicked witch in our school's theater production. All of the other potential candidates and I had sat in a circle, and the director had asked each of us, one at a time, to give our best witchy cackle.
When it got to me, I coughed and cleared my throat. And I did that again. And again. Eventually, I feigned a full-on coughing fit and waved my hand for the next person to go.
Needless to say, I didn't get cast.
I'd become so afraid at throwing out an embarrassing cackle that I couldn't even continue the audition for the role I had wanted. If I would have belted out a strong, blow-them-away cackle, would you be watching me on your t.v. right now, walking down the red carpet? I doubt it, but who knows.
Though I may not have pursued an acting career, it is still true that one moment of withheld expression led to a cascade of events that shaped my life today.
Do yourself a favor: Don't miss another moment.
Pause as often as possible and think about your truths. Do you know what they are? Are you expressing them into the world? (With a NFY attitude, please and thank you.)
Let us hear you.