I’ve never been good at speaking up.
The thing about talking is that other people can listen—and that always terrified me.
If someone hears me speak, maybe they will really see me, in all of my fears and inadequacies. Maybe they will see how weak I really am, how much pain I carry, or how dark my nightmares are.
I always felt like if I spoke—loudly, clearly, and openly—that my soul would be exposed; I’d be left out in the open for everyone to judge.
When we make an honest attempt to express our deepest feelings, we uncover the truth of who we are. This takes faith, and it has taken me a long time to be ready to make that leap.
I recall a number of times in high school when I was called on to speak in class and totally froze up. It’s not even that I wasn’t prepared or didn’t know what I was talking about; I was just afraid to be seen. I was afraid of my own potential.
So, it’s strange that I am becoming known for my writing and YouTube videos, most of them centered around speaking our truth and facing our shadow.
How’d that happen?
I started to come out of my shell toward the end of high school, but was still hiding behind social cues and cultural norms. By the time I went to college, I had learned a lot about how to deal with people, and how to leverage situations and influence people to get what I wanted. But within the first two weeks of school, I came down with a severe chronic illness that would change the course of my life.
I couldn’t exercise. I couldn’t drink. I couldn’t even really read or write, because of how the illness impacted my cognition. For a long time, I just sat with myself—and when we sit with ourselves long enough, we realize how f*cked up we actually are.
The conversations going on in my head were horrible. I mentally beat myself up all the time, lamenting over how bad my situation was and how incapable I was as a human being. I was telling myself I didn’t deserve to live.
If we listen to what’s happening in our head carefully, we begin to notice that there are actually two people having a conversation with each other. This is the realization that led to Eckhart Tolle’s spiritual awakening, where he said to himself, “I can’t live myself any longer” and began to question which person he was: the “I” or the “Myself” that he couldn’t live with.
I guess something similar happened to me. I realized that I just couldn’t go on living unless I improved the quality of the conversations in my head. I was spending so much time with myself, after all, so I might as well treat myself a little better.
I started talking to myself—journaling, planning, visualizing, ranting—in an attempt to articulate how I was feeling and decide how I should be processing what was happening to me. And I kept at it. I never stopped engaging with myself, even speaking out loud in my room sometimes when I really needed to figure something out.
In my journal, I would ask myself endless philosophical questions and meditate on those questions until I came up with an honest answer that made sense to me. This inquiry process eventually led to the the writing that I am doing today.
But it goes even further. When we start to articulate our deepest thoughts, optimizing the conversation that is taking place in our heads, we are actually learning how to speak to other people. Creating a healthy dialogue between those two different people that are working out their differences in our minds, in turn, helps us create a better dialogue with the world. Having worked out some of my own issues through talking to myself, I’ve gotten much better at speaking honestly with the people in my life, without having my emotional baggage get in the way of my relationships.
When we learn how to articulate our thoughts in a way that feels clear and honest to us, this clarity and honesty comes to naturally spread into the world. My relationships improved, I became more comfortable with myself, and I felt more confident moving through the world. There is no limit to the power of honest speech. When we speak honestly, we open ourselves up to life. When we lie, we are creating a resistance to life—and this inertia makes us suffer.
I couldn’t speak, so learned to speak. And now I am using my words to change the world. This probably sounds arrogant, but my hope is that this story can transcend my own ego and speak to the hearts of those reading this right now.
Learn to speak. It’s a powerful tool and one that begins within our own mind, with the two sides of our personality: the judge and the victim. If these two parts can be in communion, engaging in a conversation with each other that propels us forward, we become a force in the world. We no longer feel fragmented and disconnected. We break the inner cycle of judgement and victimhood. We begin to feel a sense of oneness that carves our destiny out of the seemingly impossible.
We can become who we were born to be. We can master this f*cking life, and maybe even leave the world better than we found it.
Bonus: Spotlight Interview.
Author: Samuel Kronen
Image: Alexandre Dulaunoy/Flickr
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Copy Editor: Travis May