SPEAKING OUR TRUTHby Marianne Vernacchia on 07/05/20
“Oh, I could never say that!” My come back to this is, “Why not?” “What would happen if you did?”
If you’re a people pleaser, co-dependent, or were raised in a family with volatility, chaos, or unsafety, you probably learned early on how to “read the room”. In other words, your survival instincts taught you to very quickly and automatically tune into those around you, particularly your caregivers, assess their mood and stress level, in order to determine how to act and what to say around them. This was so that you could stay out of the fray and remain as safe as possible. What an ingenious and finely-honed skill you developed! Most of us who were raised around alcoholism, mental illness, toxic personalities, abuse, or broken marriages, found that this really helped to keep us emotionally and physically safe. Not a bad quality to have, and it has served us well!
However, as adults, this can start to cause us suffering and hardship. The cost of us tuning into others’ feelings instead of our own, constantly editing ourselves, reading and misreading others’ minds, in order to determine how we should proceed, neglecting our own needs, or even not knowing our own thoughts and feelings can lead to depression, anxiety, or just feeling empty inside. Therapy is about discovering, validating, and honoring our true selves. The parts that are underground and begging to be paid attention to and validated. It begins with deciphering OUR true needs and finding OUR own truths, as a way to nurture ourselves to become confident and fulfilled. Healing is about becoming whole, as human beings, accepting our thoughts, feelings, and choosing our actions in a way that helps us live and reach our true potential. Some may call this self-actualization.
But, isn’t that selfish? (I hear this all the time!). The short answer is no! I am not suggesting that we become totally self-focused and inconsiderate of others and their needs, but that we put ourselves on the list! Hopefully, at the top of it, so that we are healthy and intact enough to show up for true intimacy in our relationships with others, even if that brings some bumps and conflict. When we are self-aware and honest within ourselves, we can be sincere and honest with others in a more intimate way. We stop trying to control and manipulate conversations, we stop our indirect ways of preventing or influencing the moods of others, we stop pretending and hiding our feelings, we let go of trying to control others’ reactions and upset, because when we do, we are not being sincere, but rather we are really trying to manage our own fears. It is possible to speak our truths in a respectful way and allow others to as well, without trying to control the outcome. It is possible to be set free!