Last month I interviewed therapist Darlene Lancer, MFT, on how to be more independent. (Here’s the published piece.) One of her suggestions, in particular, stuck with me, and I jotted it down in my journal:
At the end of the day, ask yourself, “Did I speak my truth?”
In other words, was what you were feeling inside congruent with the words and behaviors you showed to the outside?
Darlene used the example of saying yes to something you didn’t want to do.
I think speaking our truth is one of the most powerful ways to practice self-care. It’s how we honor and protect ourselves. It’s how we acknowledge our feelings and needs, and get them met. It’s how we preserve our boundaries.
And it’s hard. Really hard.
It’s hard to express how we really feel to someone else. It’s hard to ask for what we need (because what if we can’t or don’t get it?). It’s hard to disappoint others when we decline their request.
It’s hard to speak up. It’s hard to advocate for ourselves, at our jobs, with our spouses, at the doctor’s office.
It’s easier — but only in the moment, of course — to smile, nod and say yes. It’s easier to stay silent.
It’s easier to push down those inconvenient disagreeable feelings and thoughts. Because it’s easier and less scary to keep disappointing ourselves than to disappoint others.
Some of us have years of experience with exactly this. (I do.)
We have a long list of reasons why we can’t say no to something, even though we really, really want to. But like so many things, it gets easier with practice, and taking tiny steps is a great way to start.
Here are a few things that may help you in speaking your truth, every day:
- Before running to someone else to decide what you want, consider first, What do I want? and journal about it, if you need clarification. Write out the pros and cons. Ask yourself, again: What do I really want?
- Consider what speaking your truth means to you. What does this look like on a daily basis? Get specific. If you’re a fan of lists like I am, make one. Title it: “ways I can speak my truth every day.”
- Make another list with two columns. Title one column: “ways I’m not speaking my truth right now.” Title the second column: “how I can change that.”
- Remember that saying no to something might feel crappy in the moment. But afterward, when you have the extra time and energy to focus on what you really want to do, you’ll feel a whole lot better.
- Check in with your feelings throughout the day. Simply ask: How am I feeling right now? Simply notice.
- If you didn’t speak your truth on a given day, consider why. Why did it seem impossible or inconvenient? Were you too tired or too preoccupied? Were you afraid? Consider the lesson you can learn. What can you take away from these situations and experiences?
How do you speak your truth?