Some time ago I described myself as ‘harmony-seeking quiet observer learning to speak loud and clear when needed’, which you may have read below my blog posts. It’s funny how accurate that description is. Earlier I already wrote that I was practicing to take up space. Now I am practicing to speak my truth more often too, as I have found that my judgement, intuition and wisdom are among the most valuable things I have to offer the world.
Speaking your truth
My earlier self-description is so accurate: so to not disturb the current balance I would often retreat in silence and just observe. But now I have come to see that ‘the current balance’ is often a state of imbalance – and that my contributions can help to restore actual balance!
I have read multiple times that one characteristic of spiritual (or personal) growth is that the person becomes free of shyness and confident in speaking their truth. I believe this is true. Being able to speak your truth is a quality one can obtain through spiritual growth or personal development. It’s also something many people seem to learn as they grow older.
Wise men say that rushing is violence and so is your silence when it’s rooted in complianceRising Appalachia in ‘Medicine’
This is pretty similar to what I wrote earlier about taking up space in my post Space invader #1: the first insights. That post was mostly focused on physical (or energetic) space, but I believe that to be able to speak your truth, you must also be able to take up space. You must probably feel some safety from that to dare to speak your truth. At least that’s how I imagine it (for people like me).
I realize that I am being vague about what I mean with ‘your truth’, and I’m not even sure if I can grasp it completely and put it in words. For me it’s about the process of becoming more honest to yourself and others and to communicate about that too. So it is part of an ongoing process of spiritual or personal growth. For me this blog (not just this post, but including this post) is part of speaking my truth. So if you don’t really follow what I mean by it, reading a little bit more on this website may give you a sense of it too. At least of what it is to me. Of course it can be different for others too.
The importance of speaking your truth
In this post I will illustrate the importance of speaking your truth and show that it’s not only important to you but also to others and our collective cultures.
As stated, I have often been silenced by others or by myself. Like many people and especially women, I have learned to be quiet, polite and compliant. My go-to method would generally be to retreat. In my withdrawal, I did lots of analyzing and ‘dissecting’ so to understand occurring situations and mostly occurring people. This behavior served me quite well, for it resulted in (for me) great understanding of the world and people around me.
But now I feel that it is time to share more of my understanding with others and thereby change the world in my way. And now these others don’t only include my usual peers but everyone who wants to be there. So I may practice speaking these truths more. I don’t mean to say that I know everything better than others and that my truth is the ultimate truth. What I do mean is that all honest and true contributions are valuable in a way, and so are mine and yours.
You could even take it further and think that when people withhold from sharing their insights, they thereby actually limit growth of themselves and others. This is explained and illustrated in the novel The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield. Throughout this book nine ‘spiritual insights’ are explored, and being open and honest are integral parts of several insights. The main character tends to be aloof and insecure and therefore not share his thoughts with others, because he doesn’t regard them as important (oh how recognizable to me!). This way his ‘shyness’ obstructs the natural flow of the conversation, leading to awkward silences where could have been a lively, interesting conversation. As a result, the conversation partners miss out on knowledge and insights – and fun too.
I’m not saying that it’s wrong per se to not speak up, or to be shy or feel insecure. This book The Celestine Prophecy may be pretty harsh about it, but I’m not. As I mentioned, I have often been silent and I don’t feel bad about that.
But it is true that knowledge and insights can be brought to us through others. This makes perfect sense: we can all learn from each other, we actually do this all the time, and we can enhance each others learning processes.
According to the mentioned book there is more to this: the author writes that this process works best if you maintain a ‘meditative state’ and direct energy flows in certain ways through which you can lift each others energy or consciousness. I find this very interesting. I didn’t take the information of the book (The Celestine Prophecy or its Experiential Guide) literally, but I do recognize that the energy state you’re in collectively (possibly a meditative or deep listening state) matters a lot in being able to speak the truth and also hear it from others. So there is a lot to explore there.
You are a reflection of our culture
Another illustration is the recent #metoo campaign, which totally shocked me. It was shocking to learn how many women have experienced harassment and assault and tricky to go back to my personal unprocessed feelings.
I personally recall two experiences in which a man assaulted me. I find it hard to judge these experiences. I tend to automatically add that ‘the assaults’ weren’t so bad, so to prevent people from worrying about me or feeling sorry for me. I now actually find my feelings about these occurrences ridiculous: I felt that I was supposed to hide such events and my feelings thereof so to not bother others. I felt shame, about being too trustful or too naive so that it happened, about apparently being ‘sexually attractive’ (or something else) to these particular men.
The occurrence of such acts does have a huge impact and not only through these ‘incidents’, because they are in fact no incidents. These events and the apparent widespread misjudgement of the seriousness thereof are part of something bigger: of institutional sexism.
The #metoo campaign illustrates that women and other ‘minorities’ are often silenced and how such processes can occur in societies and in individuals. Awareness of these processes and of how they manifest in you are needed to transcend them and to empower yourself and others.
In the assault cases, I assumed that these were my experiences with which I had to deal by myself. I decided to not bother others with it, so to not make it bigger. While there is sense to that rationale, it is also untrue. These assaults are not my problem alone. Most of all, they come forth of problems in the involved men. Their problems come forth of their perception of the world, which is influenced by their surroundings. Much like my perception is shaped by my surroundings. Thus, our general culture may as well be the main problem.
Single problems don’t exist
In this rationale, treating these assaults as ‘my problems only’ and handling them in solitude does not accurately respond to the situation or actual problem. This approach only affects me and others indirectly through my altered perception of the world. This approach does not actually solve the problem! And imagine if millions of women handle like this! We all take personal responsibility for these occurrences but do not fully recognize the involvement of other people and address them too.
This is what happened. All these women were processing these occurrences and the sexism they endure mostly in silence. This approach does not allow for enough support, because women do not share their experiences with each other and thereby cannot support each other. Also, this non-sharing leads to a distorted image of how many women are affected, which allows for too little recognition of the severity of the problem.
The bottom line: our voices are ever important. Taking our personal problems seriously and knowing that we are not the only ones experiencing them allows us to talk about it: to support and be supported. These important conversations contribute to identifying and realizing solutions.
I believe that ‘single problems’ do not exist. Problems that seem small are likely part of a bigger problem that manifests itself in many individuals. Thus, recognizing and working on your problems contributes to the happiness of others too! Through helping yourself and supporting others.
As a personal note and disclaimer I may mention that I am pretty introverted and I find it hard to adapt to groups of people, as I wrote before in Space invader #1 and in Introversion in social movements. However I am very strict about telling the truth. I am aloof too, like the main character of The Celestine Prophecy, but I practice being more straight-forward and saying the things I deem important for the other to hear, even though the person may not like to hear it at first.
This is a complex theme and much can be said. I choose to leave it like this for now (in 1,414 words, ha). If you wish to add stuff, please do. This post was pretty general, but I may write sequels about more specific ‘practices’, situations or issues related to this. So stay tuned to not miss out. 😉
The picture shows beautifully colored bushes on the university campus, taking up their space!
Edit: I improved this piece slightly, while retaining the message, in June 2021.