Do you find that you often “bite your tongue” and “swallow your words” so you won’t “rock the boat”? If so, you may need a quick lesson in speaking your truth. Speaking your truth is not about lashing out at others or shaming someone on purpose but instead it is about clearly communicating how you feel, which is difficult for many people.
The reasons why it is so difficult to speak up are varied, but mostly stems from how we learned to handle conflict or express our feelings. As children, many people were told not to cry, be quiet, or stop being angry. Or if there was chaos and conflict in the household, a child may decide to stay quiet because they are afraid of getting hurt. These early experiences mold how we express ourselves in the future as adults.
The benefits to speaking up include increased self-esteem, relaxation in the body, and richer relationships. In order to begin this process, you must decide that you want to improve your communication skills. Then begin to notice bodily cues when you have an interaction with someone. You may have a feeling in the pit of your stomach, your jaw may tighten, or you clench your fists. Noticing is the first step. Next, decide to practice speaking your truth with someone safe who you know will not leave or ridicule you. This practice is like exercise; it takes repetition for this muscle to build. It may feel scary at first, expect that feeling to arise.
Here is a quick three-step process to get you started:
1.When _______ happened
2. I felt________________
3. I would like you to___________ or not____________ (make a request here)
It’s clear, concise and to the point. If the receiver becomes defensive, go back to the three-step process and repeat yourself requesting to be heard or name what is happening for example: “you’re changing the subject and you’re not hearing me. I need you to hear what I’m saying”.
The next time you wish you had said something to someone instead of swallowing your words and hurting yourself, go back and use the three-step process. It’s never too late to speak your truth or begin learning to care for yourself.
“Speak your mind even if your voice is shaking” Maggie Kuhns