You cannot fix a community in turmoil, a marriage, a friendship, or a working relationship when things continuously go unsaid. When we don’t speak our truth and say the things we need to say we unconsciously give away our power to others. Repeated silence is like a rip current in our lives and in our communities. The costs are devastating:
So how do we speak our truth in a way that honors both ourselves and others? I believe it starts by understanding why we don’t already do that.
Urban Dictionary defines truth as “something which would probably upset many of people if it were known and made public.” As a result, FEAR is the biggest reason people don’t honor their feelings and say what they need to say.
- Fear of judgment.
- Fear of hurting someone.
- Fear of consequences.
- Fear of not saying the right thing.
The longer we avoid saying the things we need to say we create repeated emotional friction and callused hearts. When that happens, we become emotionally unavailable to ourselves and others. Only by honoring our experience as we see and feel it do we reconnect with the best part of who we are and open the door for real conversation and change to take place.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is considered one of greatest nonviolent leaders in world history. He demonstrated that you can stand in your truth without falling on your character. He taught us that speaking bigger requires discipline and an intentional commitment to speak with. . .
1 – SPEAK WITH TRUTH
The first step to speaking your truth is getting clear on what you’re really feeling and expanding your emotional vocabulary. Individuals with high levels of Emotional Intelligence tend to have healthier relationships and lead better teams. Researchers Mayer and Salovey say “the first branch of emotional intelligence is…the capacity to perceive and to express feelings.” Research has shown that there is a significant benefit to being able to name your feelings in a 3 word sentence: I feel ________. Clearly identifying what you’re feeling allows yourself and others to provide the emotional support necessary so you can move forward. As Dr. Phil says, “You cannot change what you do not acknowledge.”
2 – SPEAK WITH PURPOSE
Words without purpose always fall on deaf ears. We must get clear on the purpose behind what we want to share with others. This past week life coach Iyanla Vanzant aired her special, Iyanla: Fix My Life – Special Report: Healing in Ferguson. What she found was the community lacked leadership and direction. She kept asking individuals, “What are you asking for?” Many could not articulate a clear purpose.
Your purpose is critical in communicating effectively because your purpose determines your actions. For example, many of the citizens in Ferguson were angry and wanted police to stop targeting young African American men. As a result, they created signs that said, “Hands Up. Don’t Shoot.” The problem with this purpose is that it’s perpetuating the negative connotation they are standing up against. More importantly, their purpose was one-sided. All problems are a result of miscommunication and misinformation on both sides. Our purpose has to mutually address both sides and it should be stated in the positive light that we are advocating for.
An alternative purpose would be to “create a trusted partnership between the police and the community so everyone feels respected and valued.” This purpose requires a completely different set of actions from leaders in Ferguson than what we are seeing on television. This purpose could generate signs that say, “Believe in me. I believe in you.” This purpose requires people to step up and root out any negative behavior that distracts from the community moving forward. Additionally, it requires leaders in the community to step up and take accountability.
Before jumping right into frivolous action, we must slow down long enough to formulate a clear purpose.
3 – SPEAK WITH LOVE
While accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, Dr. MLK Jr. said, “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.” It is important to remember that you do not get to share your truth at the cost of someone else’s. Humanity requires us to make it safe for others to share their truth as well. We make it safe when we communicate from a place of love vs. fear. Communicating with love allows us to show up and. . .
- Be respectively candid vs. be abrasively candid
- Focus on the issue vs. focus on the person
- Listen to understand vs. listen to be right
- Believe people do the best they know how to do vs. believe people have bad intent
When we speak with truth, purpose, and love we lift our voices up to the level of our vision. Maya Angelou once said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Our feelings give birth to our words and our words give birth to our story. There is nothing more powerful than honoring yourself and others by sharing your story in the way you feel and see it. My hope is that you will use the information here to speak bigger in your life.
Keep going, Keep growing!
DAILY GROWTH QUESTIONS TO ANSWER
- What holds you back from speaking your truth?
- How has not sharing my truth impacted my relationships and self-worth?
- What do I need to say to __________ that I’ve never said?
- What do I need to do to make it safe for others to share their truth with me?
- What element (truth, purpose, or love) do I need to focus on to speak bigger in my life?