Heather, a baker for a catering company, began having issues with one of her co-workers after he bulldozed over her experience and capability in the kitchen. After her resentment had built up to a nearly unmanageable level, she called for a meeting, during which she explained to him how she was feeling.
“I made sure to speak my truth,” says Heather. “By that I mean that I spoke with him in a completely honest way about my discomfort, without trying to minimize or play down the fact that I felt disrespected. I used “I” statements, but was also clear about why the work environment had become unbearable.”
Although the lead up to the talk was terrifying—Heather cried in her car on the way to work and nearly turned around—since the meeting, things have been much better at work. The caterer was able to listen to Heather’s statements without attacking her and, on the whole, her work environment has become significantly more pleasant.
Heather’s experience is perfectly normal, especially in regards to the fear she felt before expressing her dissatisfaction. Most people have a difficult time saying what’s true for them when issues come up in family and work life.
They fear the pain of being rejected, writes Mike Robbins in Be Yourself: Everyone Else Is Already Taken, so they alter their words and actions and may even manipulate situations and people to get what they want without having to speak honestly.
However, speaking your truth is not only mentally liberating, it’s beneficial to your physical health. “When we let our true self be seen, when we let our inner pilot light radiate, we heal,” says Rankin, the author of the upcoming book Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself. Holding in emotions and resentments can lead to stress, which can be taxing on the body. Releasing stressful tension is just one of the benefits of speaking truthfully.
But how does one actually do this without alienating others?
1. Aim for being real, not right. Speak from the heart, and focus on expressing your thoughts without attacking the other person.
2. Get to know your own truth through introspective exercises. Think about what you value, what inspires you, what makes you feel grounded, what gives you purpose in life.
3. Practice. Speaking your truth becomes easier with time and repetition. Always pay attention to that inner pilot light. And when something seems off in your outer world, don’t be afraid to let your voice be heard.
As difficult as it may feel to start speaking up, ultimately it’s easier to be truthful than it is to evade the issue. It takes courage to speak up, to risk another’s displeasure, but in the end the physical and mental rewards of doing so are endless.