When is the last time you truly felt like you could see clearly and speak up in your own unique truth?
When was the last time you spoke up without questioning who you would offend or wondering how others would react, only then to find yourself editing your own truth down?
I just want to say that until recently, I was there. Every single day, I was there.
I spent most of my life feeling like everything I thought was wrong and that I deserved to be on the bottom. Finally, a few years ago, I started putting the pieces of my puzzle together. I was taught these beliefs, both verbally and non-verbally throughout my life. This was a huge eye-opener for me and the start of a huge change in my life.
Yoga has helped me a great deal with developing insight. With insight, you are able to see things differently. You are able to step back and practice compassion and at the same time still practice standing in your truth. Insight can be a tool to help you make changes in your life, but having insight doesn’t mean you are perfect and it surely doesn’t mean you never make mistakes (And I’m talking from experience, here).
I am constantly learning about life, and where before I was a bystander in my life, now I get to be fully integrated into it. I would often tell my husband how much I admired his abilities to tell it like it is, and not care. He would often reply back “I do care, just not about everyone’s BS.” I have my own issues. I don’t need to hear about everyone else’s. He always says that when you are upfront right away about things, there are fewer issues later. Being honest is important.
So how do you develop insight and your own voice? Here is what I’ve learned:
- Learn to focus on your breathing. Breathing keeps you in the present moment and helps you slow down. If you are not breathing, then internally you are putting yourself in a position of anxiety and stress. It can be difficult to think straight and truly feel. So in those moments of truth and honesty, in those moments of both giving and receiving information, slow down to breathe more and talk less. This will help you feel and evaluate what you are going to say before you say it.
- Think before you talk (or write), get quiet and ask yourself, why am I going to say/write this? Who will it help, is it truthful and honest? I can’t count the number of times I write a comment on social media, type a reply to a video, email or go to post something myself only to delete it. When I reread and reflect, I feel in my gut it’s not worth it and I’d be doing it for the wrong reasons. There are times to speak up and times to shut up.
- Privately practice getting honest with yourself, talk aloud to yourself, and practice speaking your truth (or writing your truth). In the beginning, it may not be pretty, but as you gain better insight skills you will be able to tame and mold it. I have written countless blog posts, only to never publish them in fear someone might not agree, or might get angry or take it personally- this is no way to live.
- Surround yourself with people that inspire you to be better, people that you want to aspire to be like. Remember, you become your company. Be in good company of people who have mastered the art of insight and speaking up. Learn from them, even ask them questions. Doing this has offered me some of the greatest insights and self-reflection.
- Speak up with safe people. Speak up with people who you trust. Maybe even share what you are working on. Make sure it is a judgement-free zone.
- Practice not having the last say. This is a hard one for many (I was horrible with this). Sometimes speaking up means you say nothing and let things go. This has been a great practice of developing personal strength and insight as to why I feel the need to fix or have the last say. What matters truly is what you think of yourself. And what I have discovered is that my need to have the last say was a direct response to feeling like I was never heard. (Try practicing #1 to help you practice #6)
- Start to sit with the uncomfortable feelings after you speak your truth and let the feelings just be there. Those feelings don’t last forever, but they do stick around if you continually avoid them. Being uncomfortable is a huge part of growth and a huge part of change. I see it a lot: people deflecting change by blaming others or giving excuses for what they are not willing to address and take action on themselves. I have both been the target and have targeted others due to a lack of skills and insight; the only reason I see this now is because I was the queen of this for many years. If you are a yogi I would encourage you to consider a slower practice to help you learn to sit with the feelings more and feel them and let them pass.
- Observe your body language, and tone of voice. Parenting is a great example. If you parent from across the room you can pretty much expect your child to never listen or take you seriously. Just as important, if you ask your child to do something or listen to you and you are requesting them to do so while scrolling on your smart phone – do you think they will take you seriously? If you don’t give them complete attention why should others do the same to you? There are a million angles to take on this. Feeling inferior? Try sitting up tall, or uncrossing your arms and legs to help you receive better. Make eye contact when you talk and use inflections in your voice to stress importance in the conversation. These are all things I use in my personal life and when I teach, to help students stay tuned in.
No matter where you are in your life there is always room for growth and insight. I see now what I could not see before, that those who develop a sense of self, a voice and a truth are the ones who receive what life has to offer more fully, because the goodness that is waiting for them knows where to go and is then well received.
Be well my friends.
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