Dear future self,
When I was eleven or twelve, I decided not to be completely honest with other people, if it meant that it would hurt their feelings.
I didn’t think that that was what I was doing, though.
I thought I had decided not to say things behind people’s back any more. But quite often we make decisions and only see their consequences much later.
Nonetheless, this decision determined my life until I started my self-actualization journey and came to realize what I did and why.
I still see the situation right before my eyes: the empty classroom, wooden tables and chairs, the blackboard that was actually still black and written on with charcoal, the huge windows on one side of the classroom and me and my two friends in there.
We were so small compared to the size of the room.
And then there was this moment, when my friend confronted me about something I had said behind her back.
I don’t quite remember what it was, I think it had something to do with the toys that we were playing with at the time and maybe I told my one friend in confidence that I liked hers better than my other friends.
It wasn’t something major, as I was generally quite nice and honest I would think, but I found that situation uncomfortable enough to decide to never say anything about anyone (or their toys) that I wouldn’t also say to their face.
This decision has served me very well over the course of my life in some ways and not at all in others.
Just yesterday, I saw a Mark Twain Quote that said: “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” and I thought about that incident with my friends and how that has determined the course of my life.
And I started to wonder if I still remembered it because it was a moment in which I realized that speaking the truth can get me into trouble.
Now, I see it as one of the many moments in which I learned to conform to a sick society, to stay out of trouble.
Thinking about all of this, also made me come to realize how important honesty is, if we want to self-actualize or become our best selves.
You, I, none of us will be their best self AND a constant lier. I would even go as far as to say, that as long as you feel like you have to lie about anything at all, you are not your best self.
Now, I didn’t lie when I said what I said to my friend, I was completely honest, but I knew it would upset my other friend.
And not speaking your truth is a form of lying as well. So by making that decision, without realizing it, I decided to practice a form of lying to not upset other people.
My other friend wasn’t very good at hearing hard truths, and if you didn’t say that her toy was the best, then she would bully you until you did.
She clearly wasn’t being her best self, but at that point, I just knew that what I said had hurt her feelings, and I didn’t mean to do that and that my opinion wasn’t relevant enough to me to stay in a fight about it.
It seemed like a normal, smart move from my side. I did not see it as conflict avoidant or like I’m not standing up for myself.
I did not see that I was actually giving up my own opinions, silenced my gut feelings to try and not hurt somebody else’s feeling.
And, that in doing so, I contributed to a world in which it is OK to bully, dominate and silence people.
One hard truth is also, that if we allow for others to silence us, we contribute to normalizing silencing.
Now, at that moment, for me, how I reacted was still the only possible option, with the experiences and skills I had at that point.
We always do the best we can in any situation.
It was a coping mechanism I applied because I had not learned to stand up for myself, to think that my opinions mattered enough to speak up or knew how to resolve a conflict in a way that I could say my truth, without her taking it personally.
I allowed her to dominate me because I had learned that it was good and smart of me to give in, to not fight, to move on, not speaking my truth.
Since then, I have contributed to a culture that allows for silencing, that generates the idea that it is smarter, maybe even wiser to swallow your feelings than to pick a fight, with every time I did not speak my truth.
And so do you.
Now I don’t want to blame or shame you or me or anyone, but I believe that once we consciously start to reflect on our lives and our position in it, we become 100% responsible for our lives, and with that, we need to bring awareness to how we speak and act, so we can change our behaviours and through that our world.
When I look at myself and how I acted in the past, I look at it with compassion.
I can see that I did not have anyone in my life who would have modelled a healthy affective way of conflict resolution to me.
I also did not grow up to learn how to stand up for myself because my self-expression was often taken personally and as an offence.
It is quite interesting to see that the moments when that happened are still so present.
And it is only now, with the tools I learned through self-actualization coaching, that I can actually feel back into these moments and forgive all involved so that I can move on.
I’m more than happy to share these tools with you because it is absolutely freeing.
If you’re interested in learning more, book a call with me.
Because, not only do we suffer from this, if we do not consciously break with these childhood patterns, we will continue to teach them to next generations, and uphold unhealthy, unhelpful behaviour, which will continue to cause suffering for all involved.
Me standing up for myself and saying that I do think that my one friend has the cooler toy, but that I still love my other friend just as much even if she doesn’t have the coolest toy, would not only have allowed me to be true to myself, but might have taught her a valuable lesson too.
Dear future self, how have we proceeded with this? Did it become easier?
Dear reader, can you lovingly speak your truth yet?
Wishing you lots of love
and a voice that speaks from your beautiful heart.