Speak your truth quietly and clearly. -Max Ehrmann, The Desiderata, 1952
a few happenings
in chronological order,
and below them,
why that matters:
My improv troupe was emailing to schedule a rehearsal. We couldn’t find a time for everyone to be able to make it, and so we decided to schedule a time when the the most amount of people could be there. One member of the group, who was planning to come, upon learning that everyone could not make it during the scheduled time, chimed in and said “It’s a no for me, thanks. I only have so much time and I want to only be there when everyone can to make full use of my time.”
This blew my mind. It caught me off guard. Firstly, they knew their choice was most likely going to result in us not having rehearsal that day. But they also knew that they weren’t actually making that decision, they were just honoring their truth, and setting their own boundaries, and then letting everyone else make theirs. I had a lot of trouble imagining myself every being that brave. I imagined, in this situation, I wouldn’t have even let myself have a personal opinion about something that effects the group. If I did have a strong opinion, I would swallow it. And if I didn’t dismiss it, it would have probably been a meek something like “Oh. Bummer. I would have really liked to get everyone together. But ok”
I was talking with an internet friend (You know what that is right? Someone you only know online but interact with often.) about being home for Christmas and how often, around my family, I have to just shut my mouth and smile. He asked me why I don’t feel safe expressing my opinion and I told him that it feels like I am trying to put my opinion on other people when I do. He said “Well, are you?”
I’ve always loved that quote from The Desiderata, but I was never sure how quiet I was supposed to let my truths be. I’d been used to either screaming them or burying them. But, after this question was posed, I started to see the “quiet” part isn’t anything to do with volume, or intensity.
I learned there is a big difference in speaking your opinion because you have the right to, and it is your opinion to do with freely, and speaking your opinion because you are trying to change/convince/fix/teach/correct/one up someone or something.
The sucky part is, yea, usually when I feel restricted from saying something, it is because I actually want to impose my opinion on them. Checking in with that, realizing it, and letting go of trying to change them, has really allowed me to feel safe in my thoughts, and safe creating my own boundaries, without the guilt or shame of self righteousness.
My friend was coming over to go to a poetry reading with me. He wanted to go to the beach, and then go to the poetry reading. I wanted to go to yoga and then the poetry reading. I told him he should go to the beach, and I will go to yoga, and then we will go to poetry reading together.
Previously, I would have definitely canceled yoga plans, and had 3 anxiety attacks about being rude or inconveniencing him. He was fine, loved the beach, happy I communicated, and I loved yoga.
I also realized, I don’t really need to over explain myself. I just wanna go to yoga. I didn’t need to justify that, to him or to myself.
I am arranging a new group with an improv idea I came up with. I emailed some people and asked if they were interested. They said they are but need some more information. I didn’t really have much more than an idea but I made some up.
High on my new found confidence and sense of voice, I took over executive decisions over a project I CREATED. What?! Previously, I would have been so worried that I was being bossy, that I would have spent 20 emails asking opinions and unnecessarily making polls about things that, turns out, people don’t have strong opinions about. How dare I make decisions about my own projects!?
A friend messaged me on Facebook and asked if I wanted to start running with her. I said I would like to, but I just really don’t think getting us together for it will work in my schedule right now, and thanked her for the inquiry.
I didn’t want to be rude or disappoint her, but I realized, this was just my truth, and maybe it’s not what she wants to hear, but I have to just speak it because, having anxiety around my truth doesn’t make it any less true.
I went to this place that blasts you with frozen nitrogen air. It is supposed to help with circulation and other things when you stand in it for 3 minutes. They have a first-time-deal that is pretty cheap. After the session, the worker gave me a packet and information and started talking about me coming back. I told her I wasn’t interested. I was trying it out of curiosity and because the intro deal, and I enjoyed it but don’t plan to come back.
This one was the icing on the cake, we both won. I left without packets of information to throw away, and she didn’t waste her time. I truly think, two weeks ago, I would have pretended to listen to just “Be polite.”
“It’s more considerate to interrupt people than to pretend to listen.” -Marshall Rosenberg, Nonviolent Communication