The Courage To Speak The Truth
Abstract: A woman-centred psychotherapist talks about what it takes to become a phenomenal, strong, and empowered woman. The key? Speaking your truth regardless of what other people do or say.
The inspiration for this article came to me after I watched a video of a speech Marianne Williamson gave on Feb 17th, 2005, at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. Some anonymous blessed soul e-mailed me the link and I thank you whomever you are. To view it yourself, go to: http://media.cathedral.org/sc2005_williamson_dsl.wmv
Ms. Williamson is one of my favourite phenomenal women, and I own a copy of nearly every recorded talk she’s given and listen to them regularly. But my Goddess, this particular speech, given to hundreds of women in a very important spiritual landmark in the USA, absolutely blew me out of the water and is definitely of the “goosebump” variety. The only thing I can compare it to in terms of electrifying intensity and deep resonance is the feeling I get when I listen to Aretha Franklin’s live recording of “Amazing Grace”. I get shivers up and down my spine and goosebumps everywhere.
I aspire to be a “queen” someday like Marianne and Aretha and Bette Midler (to name just a few). But alas, I am still struggling to break free of the “princess/martyr” dress that was designed for me when I was very little. Unfortunately, it is very tight now and hard to wriggle out of, but it is becoming looser as I continue to grow into the woman I was meant to be. And what exactly is it that I want to be someday? What is it that these “diva” or “queen” women have that I haven’t yet fully developed? It can be summed up in two words:
COURAGE and CONVICTION
You see, the difference between the divas/queens in question and myself is that they have given up the terrible habit of second-guessing themselves all the time and “shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around them” (a fabulous line from a famous Marianne Williamson poem). To put it simply, THEY OWN THEIR POWER AND USE IT TO MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE.
What separates the princesses from the queens? I would say it’s one thing and one thing only: GUTS. Being a queen and speaking your truth take guts; otherwise known as COURAGE. It takes guts to speak your mind when others disagree and will try to knock you down. It takes courage to protect yourself and your children from harm by saying “NO” when you are threatened with financial ruin, abandonment, and loss of approval from others.
I have a theory and I’m sure it’s not unique. However, many of my clients find it helpful. Here it is: women get stronger, more resilient, and wiser with age and as they do, old fears begin to melt away and they find their true voice and stop pretending to be the “perfect” wife, daughter, mother, sibling, friend, etc. that they thought they had to be. In other words, they no longer care so much about what others think about them. To me, this sounds like Nirvana indeed!
I find this especially true of women going through menopause. I am blessed to have many of these fabulous women as clients and they teach me so much. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a menopausal client tell me that they’ve come to a place in their lives where they’ve finally given up trying to be ‘liked’ by everybody and that basically, those around them can ‘ like it or lump it” (i.e., the new woman they’ve become).
I tell you, I cannot wait for that day! I’m sick and tired of caring so much about what others think about me or how they see me. Granted, hot flashes don’t sound so great, nor does lying in bed every night unable to sleep staring blankly at the ceiling, but the sense of coming into one’s own so profoundly sure does.
And at the age of 36, I am well aware that menopause may be a long way off. So in the meantime, I am doing my very best to become more courageous by giving words to my convictions more and more. I do this in baby steps but am so proud of myself when I succeed. I also encourage my clients to do the same and they too, are experiencing more confidence and pluck as a result.
A recent example is of a very-pregnant woman who wanted to have her baby with just her husband and midwife and doctor there whose family insisted on showing up to the impending birth. With some support and coaching, she was finally able to tell these family members that this arrangement “wasn’t going to work” for her and her husband and prevented a catastrophe from happening. Even though they didn’t like it, they are honouring what she has asked for. She is feeling a lot calmer and in control as a result.
I’d like to leave you with some tips to help you access your inner “lioness” and muster up the courage to speak your truth…
Esther’s Top Five “Moving From Princess to Queen” Tips:
- Try pretending you don’t care what others think of you or say about you behind your back- your brain doesn’t know the difference. In other words, “fake it ‘til you make it”.
- Write some courage-building affirmations on an index card and practise saying them twice a day- upon awakening in the morning and before you go to sleep at night. One example might be, “Every day, I am becoming stronger in my convictions and able to readily speak my truth, regardless of the outcome.”
- Surround yourself with courageous women who have walked the same path and come out the other side (hint: women who have gone through menopause can be great role models).
- Take a stand and speak your truth even if it scares the $%@& out of you. Start off small with people who don’t totally intimidate you and work your way up from there.
- Lastly, give yourself a pat on the back when you follow through with acts of courage and tell yourself you’re on the right path; that this is only the beginning of greater things to come.
Esther Kane, MSW, Registered Clinical Counsellor, is the author of “Dump That Chump: A Ten-Step Plan for Ending Bad Relationships and Attracting the Fabulous Partner You Deserve ,
and “What Your Mama Can’t or Won’t Teach You: Grown Women’s Stories of Their Teen Years (www.guidebooktowomanhood.com).
Sign up for her free monthly e-zine, Women’s Community Counsellor, to uplift and inspire women at: www.estherkane.com.