"Stop holding your truth; speak your truth. Be yourself. It's the healthiest way to be." 
Tiffany Haddish

What are we afraid of? Why do we hold back? How are we stopping ourselves from saying what our hearts yearn to say? So much of life, connection, and relationship is left unsaid. We hold back from sharing what is on our minds for a multitude of reasons. What we don't realize is what we lose in the process of stifling our voices. When we shut ourselves down we teach ourselves that we - all of us, our truths, our stories, our thoughts, are not worth sharing. The more the we do, the more we reinforce that the words we have to offer are unworthy of the air. Smaller, and smaller our voices become until we talk ourselves out of sharing our voices at all. It is wise to be thoughtful in what we share, but intentionality is also sharing bravely. The things that we stop just short of saying often are precisely what we need to say. It's right there. It's just beneath the surface. It's on the tip of our tongues. If only we are brave for one moment longer to get out what we've been holding in. How much relief we withhold from ourselves in holding in what needs to be let out.

Instead of carrying a lifetime's worth of vaulted words, we can jailbreak our soliloquy of underrated loquaciousness. Things don't diminish in truth just because we haven't uttered them aloud. In fact, saying things aloud let's us have the agency to control words instead of them controlling us. We get to dictate narratives literally and figuratively. Orating is self-empowerment. We say what we're afraid of aloud to make it not so scary anymore. We say what we hope for so we have permission to hope. We say to say.

Why do we hold back? Maybe we worry how we will sound. How people's perspectives of us might shift? That we don't know how to say what we really need to say. We're afraid of embarrassment, of rejection, or rebuke. What if no understands us or even more terrifying, someone actually understands us for who we are. How can that be scary? Well if someone is able to understand us then the isolation we feel is no longer justified. Our normalcy and complacency in just not saying things gets usurped when someone is able to interpret us. There's hope in that. To be understood in a world of misunderstanding is a rarity. 

We have to let other people in if we want them to know us. We have to let ourselves be known. We - it's up to us - to speak ourselves. If not us, then who? Can anyone else share our story? Does anyone know us like we know ourselves? Do we even know all there is to know about us? Sometimes the hardest thing is the simplest - it's opening ourselves up to others. One person at a time, one conversation in a moment, and one story - that's all it takes. We don't get to say nobody knows us, when we never gave anyone a chance to do so. When our woes are self-induced, we have the ability to overcome them, or remain both captive and captor. 

We are living the fallacy of individualism in a world of community. We go about our days focused on reducing the space we take up, avoiding contact with others, and in our own heads. There is an even larger world going on around us just as much as there is a universe in our minds. We can be the one to bring others back down to Earth in the ways that we communicate with them. Compliment strangers. Strike up conversations. Make connections. Check-on people. We need to tell people what we notice about them, what we love about them, and what we hope for them. 

There is remarkable power in externalizing our inner thoughts for the benefit of other people. Vulnerability, opening ourselves up, and sharing what's inside is remarkable strength. It doesn't happen enough. When we muster up the courage to do so, people recognize the significance of our action. It matters. People are waiting. People want to know us, about us, and of us. People want to know how we're experiencing them. We can give people something they cannot give themselves - affirmation, validation, and observation. We have information about people that escapes them. Tell people about themselves. What they do with that information is up to them.

Ask for feedback, consider it, and apply what's compassion and relevant. Express gratitude for feedback, especially critical and actionable feedback. When someone corrects us or we make a mistake - learn to say thank you. Instead of apologizing or putting the onus to diffuse the "awkward" tension on them, we can ease situations by going gracious instead of defensive. Thank you for being patient with me. Thank you for letting me know. Thank you for helping me. Take it in stride. People are more often than not rooting for us. They want to see us succeed. They are hopeful for our challenge, growth, and transformation. Be grateful that someone took the time to be helpful. It can hurt when we are being led by shame, embarrassment, or inequities. When we reframe feedback as opportunities for not just growth but to feel gratitude feedback takes on a different role. It's a time for us to learn about ourselves, and how others view us. It's an evaluation of how we're showing up, and a check to see what else we have to offer. Feedback gives us vital insight into what we're not quite noticing, what more we have to learn, and how we shine. It is an essential part of our self-understanding. We should only ask for feedback if we value the opinion those who might give it, have a working relationship to have meaningful perspectives, and are willing to internalize it. If we don't want feedback we need not ask for it. X

Feedback Guide:
Do we have a relationship that can handle authentic feedback?
How is our relationship built on trust/mutual respect?
How do I like to give feedback? (direct, humor, private, etc.)
How do I best receive feedback?
Is this feedback self-motivated or unsolicited?
Is this feedback relevant and contextualized?
What do I need to take actionable things from this feedback?
Am I in the right place (physically/mentally) for feedback?
What do I hope to get from feedback?
How will I apply this feedback?
How will I center gratitude in my response?


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