Speak your Truth?

Betsy Cohen was pregnant with her second child, when her toddler Sam, became curious about where the baby was in her body. “Mommy,” he asked, “are the baby’s arms in your arms?” ”No, the baby is in my tummy.” She replied. “Are the baby’s legs in your leg’s?” ”No, the whole baby is in my tummy” ”Really? The whole baby is in your tummy?? Are you sure?” ”Yes, the whole baby is in my tummy.” ”Then mommy, what’s growing in your butt?”

This story from Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In” is a hilariously blatant display of how this kind of honesty common from children, is virtually unheard of from adults.

Speaking up and speaking your truth, is an essential aspect of living a life of passion, fulfillment and authenticity. However, many of us struggle to find ways to speak our truth, myself included. Why do we find it so hard?

In a world that often encourages conformity, staying true to oneself can be a daunting task. As we grow up, we are taught to be polite, considerate, watch what we say, not to hurt others feelings. This may not sound like a bad thing, but as we learn to speak appropriately, we lose something in authenticity. I grew up in a catholic home that had strong family values. As the oldest of 4, the responsibility of being the role-model for the others to follow was almost a burden I carry to this day. Having to move schools
as the family moved around meant learning to fit-in and conform rather than have the confidence to be different. In fact, at 19 when I left school and began my interaction with society I was a very confused young person. With no idea of who I really was, or what I really wanted.

So even though I was always attracted to the creative space of TV, radio, advertising and the sort, when my dad who was also a Banker introduced me to Banking, it was more out of obligation than interest that I pursued a career in finance. Despite the success I’ve found here, the feeling that something was missing has always haunted me.

In 2009, I entered a Best Speaker Contest that the Toastmasters Club of the HNB offered. The triumph of winning that contest opened the door to Toastmasters International. A platform where I have found myself, sharing my stories and connecting with my audience. Each time I took the stage it has been an exhilarating experience! A place of self-growth and discovery. A place that has brought into my life meaningful connections that resonate with my values, beliefs and personality.

As much as the stage has taught me self-awareness, it has also taught me that not everyone appreciates your truth. 30 years in the corporate world and I have learnt to navigate scepticism with resilience and grace.

Being honest in the work place is especially difficult, but when you understand that speaking your truth is not forcing your point of view (my truth), and that there is someone else’s point of view (their truth) we learn to share our truth in a nonthreatening way. It also teaches you to listen – and hear the truth. To take responsibility for your mistakes. Authentic communication in a leader is unfortunately not a frequent encounter. Being that leader, requires courage and confidence. I am still in the process of learning to be comfortable speaking my truth. But in awareness and commitment I’m learning to find peace and contentment in speaking my truth.


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