When is the last time you truly felt like you could see clearly and speak up in your own unique truth?
When was the last time you spoke up without questioning who you would offend or wondering how others would react, only then to find yourself editing your own truth down because you felt too responsible for others lives?
I just want to say that until recently, I was there, every single day, I was there.
I spent most of my life feeling like everything I thought was wrong and that I deserved to be on the bottom. Finally a few years ago I started putting the pieces of my puzzle together; that when I was younger I was taught these (not on purpose) beliefs, both verbally and non-verbally, seeing this became a huge eye opener for me and the start to a huge change in my life.
I would often find myself excelling only get to a place where I felt stuck or helpless and would then freeze and as a result feel too ashamed or big headed (hello ego) to speak up. So I would then often shut down or shut them down, as a defense mechanism; to protect and preserve myself from having to change and move outside my zone of what I know. I think many of us can relate to this because we all want change, we don’t like where we are, but when we realize that the only way to go from here to there is us having to do something different.
For years now I have felt like I have so much to share, as a teacher and as a person. I have been given a plethora of life experiences at an early age and I know in my gut that this was no mistake. Yet for much of my life I was very scared, scared mainly because I was afraid of what others would think or say; scared that I might offend someone, that they might not agree and then as a result not like me.
Those thoughts for years kept me from sharing my insight, thoughts, opinions and ideas. Even in casual conversation with friends and family I would often do more of the listening and hardly any sharing because I didn’t want to be different, I didn’t want to make anyone mad. And when I knew I had a difference of opinion I truly struggled in holding on to my own truth.
I would go home from those conversations mad at myself for either not speaking up or leaving my opinion beaten into something that I didn’t stand for because I didn’t have a backbone to be OK with mine being different than the rest and possibly leaving a conversation in disagreement (which I know can fully digest that disagreement doesn’t mean you dislike someone, and I cannot control if someone cannot let something go-I lived in a house most of my life with someone who never let go).
This people pleasing mindset left me even more unhappy, even more angry and irritated at the world, now knowing that this anger and irritation was really more about me because I didn’t have the skills to speak up confidently without taking others actions and reactions so personally- I was mad at myself projecting it onto others as their fault.
Yoga has helped me a great deal with developing insight, and with insight you are able to see things differently, you are able to step back and practice compassion and at the same time still practice standing in your truth. Insight can be a tool to help you make changes in your life, but having insight doesn’t mean you are perfect and it surely doesn’t mean you never make mistakes (talking from experience).
I am constantly learning about life, and where before I was a bystander in my life, now I get to be fully integrated into it. I would often tell my husband how much I admired his abilities to tell it like it is, and not care. He would often reply back “I do care, just not about everyone’s BS”, I have my own issues I don’t need to hear about everyone elses. He is always saying that when you are upfront right away about things there is no guessing and less issues later (if you are wondering he does a lot of wheeling and dealing and is a business owner too).
So how do you develop insight and your own voice? Here is what I’ve learned:
- Learn to focus on your breathing. Breathing keeps you in the present moment and helps you slow down. If you are not breathing then internally you are putting yourself in a position of anxiety and stress where it can be difficult to think straight and truly feel. So in those moments of truth and honesty, in those moments of both giving and receiving information slow down to breath more and talk less, this will help you feel and evaluate what you are going to say before you say it.
- Think before you talk (or write), get quiet and ask yourself, why am I going to say/write this? Who will it help, is it truthful and honest? I can’t count the number of times I write a comment on social media, type a reply to a video, email or go to post something myself only to delete it because when I reread and reflect I feel in my gut it’s not worth it and I’d be doing it for the wrong reasons. There are times to speak up and times to shut up.
- Privately practice getting honest with yourself, talk aloud to yourself, and practice speaking your truth (or writing your truth). In the beginning it may not be pretty, but as you gain better insight skills you will be able to tame and mold it. I have written countless blog posts, only to never publish them in fear someone might not agree, or might get angry or take it personally- this is no way to live. (And a side note that when you find yourself taking something personally you have to ask yourself, is that speaking to you-personally?)
- Surround yourself with people that inspire you to be better, people that you want to aspire to be like, remember you become your company. Be in good company of people who have mastered the art of insight and speaking up, learn from them, even ask them questions, doing this has offered me some of the greatest insights and self reflection.
- Speak up with safe people. Speaking up with people who you trust and people you can maybe even share what you are working on with. The only way to get better at riding your bike is to
watch a You Tube videodo it over and over again.
- Practice not having the last say, this is a hard one for many (I was horrible with this), sometimes speaking up means you say nothing and let things go, this has been a great practice of developing personal strength and insight as to why I feel the need to fix or have the last say. What matters truly is what you think of yourself. And what I have discovered is that my need to have the last say was a direct response to feeling like I was never heard. (Try practicing #1 to help you practice #6)
- Start to sit with the uncomfortable feelings after you speak your truth and let the feelings just be there. Those feelings don’t last forever, but they do stick around if you continually avoid them. Being uncomfortable is a huge part of growth and a huge part of change. I see it a lot, people deflecting change by blaming others, or giving excuses for what they are not willing to address and take action on themselves. I have both been the target and have targeted others due to a lack of skills and insight; the only reason I see this now is because I was the queen of this for many years. If you are a yogi I would encourage you to consider a slower practice to help you learn to sit with the feelings more and feel them and let them pass.
- Observe your body language, and tone of voice. Parenting is a great example. If you parent from across the room you can pretty much expect your child to never listen or take you seriously. Just as important, if you ask your child to do something or listen to you and you are requesting them to do so while scrolling on your smart phone- do you think they will take you seriously? If you don’t give them complete attention why should others do the same to you? There are a million angles to take on this. Feeling inferior? Try sitting up tall, or uncrossing your arms and legs to help you receive better. Make eye contact when you talk and use inflections in your voice to stress importance in the conversation. These are all things I use in my personal life and when I teach, to help students stay tuned in.
No matter where you are in your life there is always room for growth and insight. I see now what I could not see before, that those who develop a sense of self, a voice and a truth are the ones who receive what life has to offer more fully, because the goodness that is waiting for them knows where to go and is then well received.
Be well my friends.
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