What to do when you can't speak your truth - Part 3
If you’ve been helpless and vulnerable for a long time, then it feels like you have no access to your voice.
You are reading Part 3: The TOOLS!
Tool 1. Ring Out the Volume.
A lot of us are afraid to be noticed or seen. That sounds weird, but if you are in pain or you are depressed or you don’t have confidence or you were abused, it’s much more comfortable to be invisible. And whether or not you are conscious of that instinct, your body language will correspond. I remember being so hurt and vulnerable that I would speak in whispers because I literally didn’t want to be heard. When we can’t speak our truth, it’s usually systemic – tied to deep feelings of sadness, loss, or inadequacy. So here’s a tool for you to practice using your voice. Because through the practice you will actually grow stronger. Think of this one like doing pull-ups.
Having been voiceless myself, I can tell you it’s there but it’s kinda like a muscle: you just have to start to practice using it, as hard as you can. Picture it like it’s inside your abdomen and sometimes when you can’t use your voice, you just have to squeeze it out by contorting your body and ringing the words out like a shammy. So if you are unable to say something, next time giving yourself the Heimlich or squeezing even the tiniest whisper out of your upper body. The next time it will get a little bit louder, and after that – a little bit louder. The point is to get SOMETHING out so you know your voice is real. Give it an external presence even if it’s puny at first. In addition to that, practice yelling when you are alone. Do it in the car. Do it in your pillow. If you can’t seem to speak up, another trick is to use a very subtle accent – like an alter ego that no one else recognizes. In high school mine was a super annoying, sing-songy voice – think Mean Girls. Start by practicing it on the phone with strangers – like when you call to order food. It creates the tiniest bit of a buffer between you and the world.
Tool 2. Take the Tangle Apart: Journal Exercise!
Regret is like a worn out romance novel: bad writing, over the top plot and imagery and a cheap cover that eventually falls off. We tell ourselves a story about our pain and we keep telling it the same way forever, and it becomes this truncated narrative with oversimplified characters. But it’s romanticized by us in the act of retelling and it doesn’t represent the truth. It represents how we internalized the pain of shame we felt in another time. And what that means is this thing didn’t align with who we are. That’s why it hurts. We told ourselves a specific story about how that thing defined us in that moment, and then we reinforced it via the replay loops of regret. And then we get used to it– it blurs into who we are. But I want you to look at it today right now, from a new vantage point – with your journal. Because you, today, are very likely not accurate to the person who lived that experience. You get stuck in the old movie and you relive it – emotionally – like it were true, but it commandeers you from your present – one that is different and much more okay than the memory feels. Painful memories are like triggers in that they take over your body – removing you from your present emotional awareness. These emotional memories are attached to experiences like shame. So whenever you feel a similar shame, today – you might feel the shame of your old self.
This is the tool: I want you to rewrite the more objective story of this thing, by taking it apart in your journal, from a new and present angle. One that records all the context and places it in the right order. I want you to start by writing a list of the valid reasons someone in your situation would have – for doing such a thing. Include objective facts like your age at the time, the emotional factors that lead up to it, your coping style, reasons you were ambivalent. Once you’ve gathered all your info, you can craft an accurate narrative of this event that is more outside of it. Context is everything. Next, I want you to write down a description of the person you are now and how you have changed. Maybe that’s in part because of this event. Record the qualities you have and the actions you would take, now, if this were to happen today.
Let’s say you wanted to tell your parent that you got married to the love of your life – but you chose not to, because you knew they would disown you, and you weren’t ready to say goodbye just yet. Is this wrong? No, not at all. Everything is a personal choice and no one can make it for you. You get to choose the right and wrong way to live your life. Most important is choose for the right reasons: weigh everything out so you can see what is of the most value to you and once you decide, you’ve got to accept what is, and forgive yourself. You can’t make everyone happy and sometimes the best outcome is not great. If you made a certain choice that compromised your truth, maybe that’s because it was worth it to you. The truth isn’t always the best decision – your terms are personal.
Tool 3. Make a Right.
Anytime you feel guilt or shame or helplessness in the face of evil, make one right in this world. This is like the universal tool for all suffering. If you are suffering currently, then I want you to do it right now. If you can, affiliate your positive act to the source of your suffering. Let’s say you didn’t tell someone you loved them, before you lost them. Tell 10 friends on the phone you love them – or write a letter to that person, and read it aloud then blow out a candle. Or if you were abused and didn’t protect yourself or someone else, volunteer some time or donate some money to help another person. Do it right now!
The worst part of any negative act is allowing it to continue to create badness. It is your duty to counter this thing and make it mean something new, for you – and the best way to do that is to help others. It’s like a miracle drug. No joke.
Tool 4. Beware the Pedestal.
This is a tool for anyone who hides their truth and feels ashamed for feeling it. A common habit of people who find themselves voiceless is polarization. They’ll either put others on a pedestal and put themselves lowest, or the opposite. It’s a go-to for managing anxiety, common to type-a-er’s, because it gives you a sense of control over pain. But when you do this, you separate yourself from action and remain trapped in your head. So here’s the tool: the next time you have a thought or a perception that you are starting to use to beat yourself up, say that– aloud. Like a big nerd. Literally say to someone, “I feel guilty but I am angry right now.” Name it. Narrate it. Or put it on paper. Because this is how you truly control pain and anxiety and also how you grow aligned as yourself. By telling yourself a pedestal story, you isolate and you also create a me-centric focus. Maybe you feel bad for feeling certain things and you say to yourself, “I’m always so selfish…” Those thoughts – themselves, are selfish. They build a narrative between you and real-life feedback. So get used to naming the feelings that no one names. That is how you build comfort with yourself and then confidence and ultimately, create intimacy.
Depending on your circle, you might get weird reactions. That means you are around people who are insecure. Be prepared to accept their discomfort. It can sting at first but you might find that being bravely honest allows you to find your true tribe.
Before I close, I want to thank my latest sponsors – this is long overdue but a big thank you to Brandi! Thank you for your amazingly huge and awesome donation! You’re an angel thank you thank you!!! And I want to thank all my monthly sponsors for believing in me and for valuing this work. When I become Oprah jr. I will invite you all to my studio audience and give you new cars.
You get to choose what your truth means to you, today, and how you bring that into your present. If this is a past hurt, you can decide today whether or not to accept it, forgive it, and let it go. That process starts by forcing some objectivity on this thing – maybe you do that with a little help – for example, a therapist or a help group. Even if you don’t believe it’s possible, you can change how you perceive yourself and all that you are ashamed of. Everyone thinks they are secretly bad or worse than others think they are. Once you can welcome the perspectives of others and discuss yourself openly, you will eventually get to a point that you believe in your own goodness. It just takes time and openness. The goal is to be transparent with yourself and allow for other perspectives to be heard. That is how you can align with everything you feel – for good and for bad. It removes the shame part and things become sooo simple. It’s like oxygen. It feels so good to be on the level with yourself.
We all do our best with what we have at a given time. Sometimes we don’t have enough belief, or enough confidence to speak the truth. And sometimes we are so vulnerable and confused and distant from ourselves – that we can’t organize all those parts to move our bodies and mouths to speak as one. It doesn’t mean this thing – this time, this act, has to damn you or define you. Or that it was “meant” to happen differently than it did. I say that not to validate wrongs that shouldn’t have been done, but to tell you to look at this now, as something new. Pull out a stepladder and stand on the highest step: how does it look from here, now? What else can you understand about it? There’s something that will loosen the knot just a tiny bit, on this memory. It doesn’t have to be so black and white. It’s usually a rainbow of cause and effect. I hope this has helped you in some way and if you think anyone might benefit from it, please share it. And if you listen to the podcast, please leave me a review on iTunes!
Much love and don’t forget to smile. xo