Speak Up, Be Heard

How do you break an ingrained habit of not speaking your truth? All too often the pressure of parental expectations, peer pressure and societal norms can be such a powerful force, preventing your uniqueness, wishes and inner knowing from being voiced. Is it fear of derision, rejection or even failure that may hold you back from reaching for the stars and following your innermost desires, dreams or aspirations?

Conforming to the norms and expectations of others is draining and often results in playing roles, depending upon particular situations. I know how it works. I played the game for about forty years, not realising just how destructive it is to wellbeing. Actually breaking free from the game playing routine was tough as I held onto fears of being derided. Not being heard or understood is debilitating to the psyche. Feeling different was one thing but actively being scorned, even bullied, for perceived differences wasn’t something that I was keen to welcome into my life. It was easier to play the game, figuring out what others expected and then engaging in role playing, somewhat like being a chameleon.

It all changed when I made the decision to leave the education sector and apply for a position in a government agency. All I knew was I could no longer continue with my teaching career. Unexpectedly a very senior person in the system shared that he’d mentor me in the process – and he did an excellent job in more ways than he’ll ever know. A simple technique he shared for responding to questions from an interview panel was the key for my truth to gradually being spoken and shared with others.

Simply put, he encouraged that I spend time in front of a mirror where I was to pretend to be responding to the kinds of questions that would be asked by any interview panel. What I rapidly discovered is the importance of facial expression, intonation, lucid speaking, appearing confident and more. The more I practiced in front of a mirror the stronger within I became.

It doesn’t matter what the issue or concern is, this technique can be applied to practically all situations. If you’re gay and are fearful of sharing this openly, if your career preference doesn’t match parental expectations, if your interests do not dovetail with friends’ preferences, or if you are fearful of fully expressing your feelings to someone in a position of authority, or to a loved one, or to simply learn how to say “no” to people this simple technique can work wonders.

Figure out what you need to say. Statements beginning with… “When such and such happens I feel…..” are empowering. No blame, use self empowering language. Spend a lot of time in front of a mirror rehearsing. Observe your facial expressions and body language. Hear the tone of your words strengthen the more you practice what you need to say. When the day comes and you finally need to speak up, to own your truth it’s highly likely you won’t express yourself exactly as you’ve practised. That doesn’t matter. What matters is that you’ve begun to break the habit of holding back, of not living in your truth.

The first time you say “no” or express your difference will be the toughest. After that it’ll become easier and the need for rehearsals will lessen.

Becoming authentic will eventually be your M.O. and from that there will be further growth and shifts in awareness. Just taking that first step of fully expressing your truth is probably the toughest. I promise it get easier. It’s a process, it’s part of this journey we call life.