It is time to speak up and out about our most precious values and convictions.
When I was a child, loving, compassion, kindness and charity were taught mostly behind the walls of our religious institutions. Those values were not discussed much, if at all, in the halls of schools or offices. Growing up in a very conservative religious area of the country this split between the head (rational and provable ) and the heart (innate knowing) confused me. I very quickly resigned myself to the hypocritical two-sided personalities of the adults in my life and adopted the same dualism as a young adult.
Later, I discovered that speaking from the heart took courage, inner strength and some care to move beyond the easy fall-back beliefs of the crowd. There appeared to be an invisible veil of repression shrouding any voice that articulated a more compassionate point of view.
Today, times are changing. We have a President that speaks openly about service, the less fortunate, not ‘me’ but ‘we’. I talk to people every day who no longer want or can remain quiet about the absence of peace as a viable national security option, honoring of the sacred in all life as a foreign aid policy and stewardship of the earth and her diminishing resources as our new bottom line.
Words are powerful! Speaking authentically resonates deep within. But often times we silence our voice and abandon our ideals because we are unaware of the sabotaging inner voice of fear. What I have discovered is that speaking up and speaking out is often derailed by unconscious thoughts from our head. And the ability to move beyond those inner roadblocks can be learned and practiced.
Here are a series of questions to assist in getting to that quiet voice of truth. Moving beyond a knee jerk response establishes a line of communication that can be tapped when we hear the call to present a different point of view.
What is it that I want to say?
What are the limiting beliefs or fears?
Where is the power?
What did I learn?
Step One: What is it that I want to say?
Your first response may come from defensiveness, fear, judgment, anger or some strong emotion. You may hear something like this inside.
“I want to tell them how wrong they are”
“I need to change their minds.”
“I’m really upset by what they said and feel out of control.”
These human responses often drive us to fire off a response that is emotionally charged and not grounded in our being. We feel it immediately. And because our words carry a charge our listener is engaged on the same level. The results are usually unsatisfactory because no one is actually heard or honored.
Acknowledge that level, take a deep breath and go deeper. What is behind that knee jerk reaction? Finish the sentence this way and discover if this resonates.
“I want to tell them how wrong they are so I can feel in control.
So I can feel like I’m right.
“I need to change their minds because their ideas bring up fear, anger, upset etc.
“I’m really upset by what they said and feel out of control so I need to create separation and distance between us.”
Step Two: What are the limiting beliefs or fears?
Underneath defensive and reactive responses are usually a deeper limiting belief or fear of being judged – by the other or ourself.
“This will not be popular.”
“You don’t really know what you are talking about.”
“Don’t rock the boat right now.”
“It’s not that important. Just walk away.”
“There you go starting an argument and ruining the party.”
“They won’t like me if I disagree.”
Acknowledge this next level of excavation and keep going.
Step Three: Where is the power?
Perhaps the timing of this question seems strange. What if authentic power lives just beyond the habitual limiting beliefs, fears and judgments?
The Heart is it’s home. What does your heart request you say?
Try these opening phrases to encourage the heart voice.
“My experience is…”
“I long for…”
“ What is important to me is…”
“ What I value more than… is …”
“I believe that …”
“What I have discovered is …”
True empowerment comes from speaking what the heart wants to say rather than the rapid fire response of the head. The secret ingredient of heart-speaking is truth. Truth is centering and grounding. Speaking truth begins to shift the energy of contraction into expansion. Breathing gets easier. The nervous system quiets. The mind is still.
Step Four: What have I learned?
Probably the most important question of the four, learning requires that I stay conscious of the movement inside and let go of what no longer serves me. A fear or belief that has conditioned my behavior all my life may drop away. A habitual response that has given me momentary control or superiority will be discarded. My willingness and ability to understand my inner dynamic may shed light on another’s inner dynamic. The combination of new revelation, new understanding and new experience creates the new paradigm shift. Now that’s a place of power!
Are there circumstances where maintaining silence also sends a strong message?
Absolutely. And the more that you check in with your heart the more discerning you will be in those situations.
Each person has a unique way to uncover and discover their empowering voice. I encourage you to practice these four simple questions in service to your quest to express the truth that lies within.
And finally, powerful words from a German Pastor…
In Germany they first came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me — and by that time no one was left to speak up.
- Pastor Martin Niemöller