Believe me when I say I know. I know how hard it is. I know how intimidating it is. I know how overwhelming it is to even think about speaking truth to those in power. And the further from power you are the scarier it becomes. Despite the difficulty, we all must speak up, speak out, and speak our truth when those in power are making choices, decisions, and practicing behaviors that are harming us or others.
Why is it so important that you speak your truth? Let me tell you why
Reason 1: Limited Perspectives
First, we must acknowledge that not everyone has had the same experiences or sees the world from the same perspective. Or more importantly, sees the world from the same valuable perspective that we bring based upon our unique experience in the world. Although sometimes this is intentional, often times it is simply unconscious and the result of living a life without the challenging experiences we’ve had in our lives. By speaking up we give those in power the opportunity to consider a perspective different than their own. A perspective which they may never otherwise hear and a perspective that may in some cases change their behavior, decisions, choices, and actions. By giving those in power the opportunity to reconsider their perspective and take action with the knowledge of your truth and unique perspective, you are providing them the benefit of the doubt that when given the chance they will take action to remedy the situation.
Reason 2: Ignorance or Indifference
The next reason we must speak truth to power is that without this truth those in power can remain ignorant or even indifferent to our experiences, our challenges, and how their choices, decisions, and behaviors are impacting us negatively. Without direct knowledge, without hearing directly from someone who has experienced a particular challenge those in power can choose to ignore, pretend, and sometimes even believe that there is no problem, that there is no challenge, and that no one is experiencing anything different than what they themselves see and experience. Even when they have knowledge or suspect there is a problem or there is some frustration or there is some challenge without people speaking the truth it is possible for it to remain silent and ignored.
Reason 3: Your Health and Well-Being
When we withhold our truth, holding it back, burying it inside of us, and failing to speak our truth, experience, or challenge to power – it sticks. Each time it sticks to us, it wears us down and it causes us to carry extra weight. And although at first it may seem insignificant, as those weights pile up, because inevitably without change they will, their weight begins to impact us. To cause harm to our mind, body, and spirit. Those who have suffered the consequences of holding in a truth that needed to be shared know firsthand the suffering, the pain, and the struggle that comes as a result. Even if speaking our truth does not bring about change, even if it causes pain and change in our life, speaking out and speaking up allows us to release the weight and allows us to be free of the experience. Living in an environment where we are being harmed, where we are unable to speak and be our authentic selves, and where we can’t speak our truth – hurts us far more than staying silent ever will.
Reason 4: Change is Essential
Even if we feel like we can carry the weight, like we are strong and can tough it out. Like we can live in an environment even if it causes harm, even if it causes us frustration, even if it causes us to cry or scream on a regular basis. Even if we feel and believe these things, if we fail to act, if we fail to speak, change will never come. The same behaviors, the same frustrations, the same experiences, will continue not just for us but for everyone like us who has experienced something similar. Where power is either actively causing harm or ignorant to the harm that exists the only way it will ever change is if enough people have the courage to speak up and insist change is necessary.
Reason 5: Your Truth Matters
Whatever your truth is, whatever your experience, whatever your challenge, whatever has happened that needs to be spoken – it matters. It is important, you are important, your experience what you have to share and bring into the world matters and is worth sharing. I know you probably think you’re alone; I know you probably think it’s only your truth and others aren’t struggling. I know you think you don’t want to be a bother. You think I don’t want to cause drama. I don’t want to risk my job. I don’t want to risk what people will think of me. You are not alone! Others are certainly struggling. You are never a bother because you matter. Speaking your truth, speaking up when harm is being done is not drama. Drama is unnecessarily talking about other people and things that can’t be changed. Standing up against anything that is causing you harm is not you creating drama, it is you standing up for yourself. Your truth matters even if it causes you to lose your job. I know that is hard for many they rely upon their jobs. But there are laws to protect you, to allow you to speak up when unacceptable, inappropriate, or offensive behavior is occurring. We never control what other people think of us but what truly matters is what we think of ourselves. How would you feel if you were able to stand up for yourself, if you were able to truly speak your truth?
Reason 6: Your Life Matters
As much as we grow attached to our experience, safety, and the comfort of whatever environment we exist in, our life and living it fully is far more important. When we step up, speak out, and share truth we run the risk that our life will change. It may change for the better or it may change in ways that make our lives more challenging. But if we don’t speak, we will continue to exist in a life weighed down with truths we cannot share unable to change the experience for ourselves or others. Living an exceptional life, living your best life possible, a life filled with joy, happiness, and success is not only possible, but also absolutely essential. However, so long as we are stuck hidden and holding back our truths, so too will we struggle in our lives. Instead, as we speak our truth, as we stand up for ourselves by speaking up and speaking out, we demonstrate that our life matters. Our experience, our perspective, who we are as individuals is also important. We are more than just a number, we are more than just a widget in a machine, we are people, and we deserve to be treated as such.
We each will make our own decision of when and how to speak our truth. I know it’s hard. I know it’s overwhelming. I know it’s complicated. And I know that when the time is right, when you are ready to put down that weight, you will step up and speak out your truth and the challenges you have faced. You will speak this truth to power and as a result, things will start to change.
If you look around, they already are changing. Many have already begun. They are speaking up, they are saying no, and they are changing the world one truth at a time.
You may have recently caught on the news the Afghanistan women protesting outside of the government. This image demonstrates to me that no matter the risk, no matter the consequence, sometimes speaking our truth and standing up for what is right must come first. And if these women can do it. If these women who know the severe consequences they will likely suffer as a result by the Taliban can do it then certainly those of us in far less dire situations can do likewise.
When you are ready, when the time is right, when the weight is too much to bear, when you know change is needed, I know you will speak your truth. And when you do, take heart – there are many who have gone before and many more who will go after you! You are not alone! You are joining those who stand for truth!
One thought on “Speaking Truth to Power”
I recently went to the Hirshhorn Museum in DC where they presented the big size words to convey the message of strong words and why truth matters. Your post reminded me of that