Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.  —Brene Brown

Is there something you’re not yet sharing with an important person in your life because you’re afraid of what might happen if you speak your truth?

Perhaps you need to tell your boss that you’ve been struggling at work and you want to propose some changes. Maybe you need to tell your partner that you want to quit your job, and you know they’ll be worried. Or perhaps you’ve realized that you no longer have the bandwidth to continue facilitating a group that you’re part of, and you’re nervous that other group members will be upset. 

What if the other person doesn’t like you anymore? You don’t want to burn bridges or lose an important connection.

Often, you’ll go back and forth, agonizing about whether or not to have the conversation. Sometimes, you need to hold off until you’re more prepared. 

Other times, you know deep down that it’s time to speak your truth. If your gut is telling you that it’s time to speak your truth, but you’re afraid of losing your connection to the other person, I offer a new perspective on truth and connection.

At some point, all of us have been told— overtly or with a sideways glance— that we’d be rejected for expressing our truth. 

When we were little, we were given all sorts of messages about what we needed to do to belong, whether it was from our parents, grandparents, schoolteachers, playmates, idols on television, or just the societal air we breathed. And from a young age, nearly all of us contorted our truth in some way to gain approval. 

This is especially the case if you don’t fit into the white, male, cis, straight, able-bodied, or wealthy mold. If you’re poor, you’re told to be grateful for meager handouts and not to ask for more. If you’re gay, you risk ridicule or worse if you hold your partner’s hand in public. If you’re black, you’re insidiously warned of the ramifications of not changing how you speak or act to fit in. 

If you’ve been acting in ways that aren’t true to yourself in an effort to gain approval, it can be hard to predict how others will respond when you start to change. When you begin reacquainting yourself with your truth and sharing it with others, you might risk the belonging that you’ve worked so hard to establish. It can feel as though you let go of the reins your accustomed to holding and relinquishing a sense of control.

So, if that’s the case, why risk speaking your truth?

Now, I’m not urging you to divulge all of your secrets at once or speak your truth before you feel ready. You may need more preparation than I’m able to walk you through this article.

That said, I want to propose that the path to genuine connection and belonging may be allowing yourself to be completely yourself. Here’s why—

When you’re not truthful, it can be harder for people to trust you, and that can make true intimacy impossible. 

If you project an emotion that’s different than how you truly feel, your verbal and nonverbal communication won’t match. And when your thoughts, feelings, words, or actions aren’t in harmony, others can sense it. As dancer Martha Graham said, “The body never lies.” 

A lack of congruence can make it hard for others to trust you. When others cannot trust you, it’s hard for them to connect with you. This can lead to you to feel separate from others and quite alone.

This goes for both your personal and professional life. If you’re interviewing for a new job, enrolling a new client, or pitching an idea to funders, how the other person responds will depend largely on how trustworthy you are. And if you deliberately try to change your body language or your voice, it’s likely to be obvious and come across as manipulative. 

We earn trust by acting and speaking from our truth. 

Speaking your truth is not about pointing the finger at another person or issuing judgments (“I think you’re a terrible boss and a rotten person!”). Rather, it is about acknowledging and taking responsibility for what you feel, need, want, and think. 

Sometimes, it sounds like being vulnerable and sharing scary truths. Other times, it can be safer to be silent on the outside while owning your truth on the inside.  

The first step to sharing your truth with others is sharing it with yourself. 

With that in mind, I invite you to grab a piece of paper and a pen. 

Got it? Good. Next, I invite you to feel both feet on the floor and take a few deep breaths into your belly, letting your belly relax.

Then, when you’re ready, I invite you to set a timer for three minutes for each of the following three questions and then write down everything and anything that comes up—

  • What, if anything, am I ready to be more honest with myself or others about?
  • What am I afraid would happen if I spoke my whole truth?
  • How might I resource myself to be able to speak my truth a little bit more?

The root of the word courage is the word cor, which is Latin for heart. Speaking your truth from your heart without judgment or blame— even if it’s just to yourself in the mirror— is an act of courage. 

I’m sending you a big hug and lots of en-courage-ment as you take your next steps towards living your truth.

Much love,

 

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