Every single time I start working with a new client, take a moment to make a deal with them: while it is my job to find custom solutions for their goals and needs, their responsibility is to speak up about how things are going for them, including how they feel in their body and in their mind.
This isn’t something that I’m doing just to be nice, to make conversation, or to make them feel included—although it is of the utmost importance for me to include them in the process.
I want to cultivate a culture of speaking up when it comes to what we choose to do with our bodies.
There’s something I’ve started noticing in the last year—probably because I’ve stepped away from this dynamic in which I used to be heavily involved too: people who, from a lifetime of not wanting to disturb, have stopped chiming in, even on questions that concern them deeply.
To say I find it disturbing is an understatement.
Silence isn’t an option.
Now, for transparency’s sake, I have to admit that I was part of the silent crowd for a long time too. I had a hard time believing my opinion mattered—no matter the subject—and so staying mum was definitely the comfortable option: I wasn’t ruffling any feathers, no one could tell me my opinion was wrong (as I simply wasn’t sharing it), and in most cases I found that I could bear the consequences of my not speaking up.
If I couldn’t? Fading silently into the background would also fix that.
But who exactly is this silence serving? Certainly not ourselves!
When truth is replaced by silence, the silence is a lie.
Speaking up means accepting a measure of vulnerability: while we can certainly be in charge of our own words, how others receive them is completely out of our control.
Restraining ourselves from speaking up—especially when it relates to how we feel, both physically and emotionally—by fear of bothering others simply creates disingenuous conversations.
Why lose the opportunity to foster richer, deeper exchanges with those surrounding us?
For those of us who aren’t used to owning our voice, there’s definitely a learning curve involved, but think of the potential outcomes:
- Being able to better comprehend what’s going on with our body, mind and soul because we’ve articulated it (using actual words!);
- Giving our interlocutors the opportunity to understand our point of view more clearly instead of having to make assumptions;
- Opening up the floor to more authenticity overall as we invite others to chime in with their own experience, instead of having everyone silently nodding along.
THIS IS ALL FINE AND DANDY IN THEORY, BUT HOW DO I MAKE THIS A REALITY IN MY LIFE?
The first answer won’t come as a surprise: practice.
You don’t even have to start with others right away—start with yourself. Begin by painting a very clear picture, using evocative words, of what’s going on with your body, mind and soul. Write it down, or practice saying it out loud.
Then, use the next opportunity that you have, in conversation with someone, to make the exchange a little more authentic instead of saying what you believe is expected of you, or what you think the other wants to hear.
Will it feel scary the first time around? Probably—even if the stakes are fairly low. But that’s also key: by getting fully comfortable speaking out in those low-risk situations, and pushing the envelope ever further with each opportunity, we get the practice we need to stand in our power no matter the circumstances!
It’s YOUR body, YOUR mind, YOUR soul. Your voice deserves to be heard.