What does speaking your truth look like and how will it make a difference is an interesting question. To speak one’s truth means to share from the heart without holding back or being afraid.
Speaking your truth is about expressing yourself authentically and courageously with a willingness to be vulnerable. With this kind of strength, you are the captain of your ship. Speaking your truth will make a difference in the quality of your life and those around you.
Why Speaking Your Truth Is Important
Suppose you are afraid to speak your mind, especially when it comes to specific issues. If this is the case, you allow other people’s opinions and judgments to dictate your actions, which prevent you from fully exploring who you are and what you believe. This idea applies not only to social issues but also personal ones as well. If someone doesn’t like something, they need to speak up instead of accepting that it is okay because everyone else does or is not saying anything about it.
Everyone wants to feel heard, understood, and validated. It is important to speak our truth because we all deserve the chance to be seen for who we are and for us to have an opportunity to grow and understand who we are.
When you say something, even if it doesn’t always go perfectly, you might inspire others to tell their truths as well. Each time you speak your truth, you’re acting as both an example and a role model for those around you.
You will feel more confident about yourself by speaking your truth, practicing and getting used to hearing yourself talk about something rather than staying silent because you fear expressing yourself.
How Can You Speak Your Truth?
The first step of speaking your truth starts by being aware of how you resist expressing yourself authentically. For example, you may be afraid to say that someone hurt your feelings, embarrassed to speak up in class even when you disagree with something, or you are uncomfortable confronting a friend taking advantage of your loyalty and support.
What keeps you from sharing how you feel? Keep in mind that it is okay and natural for humans to struggle with this at times.
Practice Speaking Your Truth
The next step is to practice speaking your truth by starting small. Perhaps you struggle to share your opinion openly during group gatherings because everyone has a different idea than yours, so start by expressing your truth in one-on-one conversations instead.
The Best Ways to Start Speaking Your Truth
There are many different ways to practice speaking your truth. It does not have to be in a formal, structured manner to begin the process but could begin by you sharing statements about situations.Here are some examples of what it could look like for you:
- “I feel discouraged when I try to share my opinion and people jump all over me.”
- “When I’m around my family, sometimes I feel so overwhelmed by everyone’s needs that I don’t know where to start.”
Try coming up with two examples of your own, one of how you can speak up for yourself and another on how a family member or friend speaks their truth.
Start this process slowly by allowing yourself to make mistakes at first. We are all human, which means we are not perfect, and it takes time before it becomes more natural and comfortable to share yourself authentically with others. Share where you are coming from and avoid blaming another for how you feel.
Permit yourself to speak your truth in the best way for you, including not speaking at all if it feels intimidating or unsafe. Focus on how you may feel one way and listen to others who may feel the opposite as both perspectives may be valid. In focusing this way, you create an atmosphere where you and others feel safe speaking up without judgment or condemnation so that everyone’s voice gets heard.
Be kind and compassionate to yourself by not pressuring yourself to have something important to say in every situation just because you aren’t use to being heard. If saying what you need to say in a specific moment would cause more harm than good, then listen when someone tells you this and find other times when it can work instead, when there is less risk involved for you.
Be proud of yourself for taking the first step toward participating in life from a different perspective. The result is we share our true authentic selves.
Know What You Want Out of This Experience
Before beginning to speak your truth it is important for you to know why you want to do, to create some goals and explore what skills you will need to gain before practicing.
1. Take some time to think about what you hope to gain from speaking your truth. e.g., joy, self confidence, better relationships
2. Create a list of what your goals in speaking your truth are. e.g.,
- To learn how articulate my thoughts and feelings in a healthy way instead of letting them build up inside until I explode or push everyone away with my moodiness.
- To make more friends who like me for who I am instead of someone I am pretending to be.
- To feel better about me by allowing others the opportunity to support me rather than “walking on eggshells” and worrying about offending someone if I disagree with them or don’t want to do everything they ask.
- To feel safer in my relationships by not sacrificing my values for the sake of another.
3. Look at your goal list and, through honest evaluation, determine how to gain the skills needed to complete your goals. e.g., read a book, see a psychologist, talk to a friend, take a class.
4. Invest in yourself by reaching out and talk with professionals to help you learn how to speak your truth more effectively and understand why people might not be used to hearing things from others that they do not want to hear, even if it seems evident to you.
Feeling Safe Enough to Speak Your Truth
People in your life might not always know what to say or how to act after you have expressed your feelings, especially when you are beginning. While they could do things that would be better than nothing, the most crucial factor is your willingness to prioritize yourself and take care of yourself even if they don’t.
Having an action plan to prepare yourself for this potential situation will be helpful to you. Here are some examples of actions to take before sharing anything with someone else:
- Do something fun for yourself every day without feeling guilty as this builds up your confidence and self-worth, which in turn will help you with the fear you may have when you need to speak up about something that matters to you.
- Take a self-time out, even if it’s just 10 minutes a day. Use this time to reflect on your feelings without absorbing anyone else’s energy. By doing this, you learn more about yourself, making you more confident about speaking your truth.
- Create a support system by making time for activities that allow you to develop relationships. Some of these relationships may be casual, some less casual. The point is to have people who will listen and try to understand you.
When You Get Scared or Anxious About Speaking Your Truth
It can be challenging to focus on what you need when you feel scared, anxious, or ashamed, as these feelings feel significant and more critical than you speaking your truth. As these feelings impact you profoundly, it might make it seem like a wrong time to bring something up that may seem petty or irrelevant in comparison. If you notice yourself thinking this way, here are some reminders for why speaking your truth is still important when having these feelings:
- You do not have complete control over how someone else will react, but you always have control over finding reasons to respect yourself even if they don’t.
- If it seems like the world is ending at that moment, there are often things you can do to feel better or at least distract yourself from your anxiety until an excellent time to speak up spontaneously arises.
- No matter how much time has passed, no one will think worse of you for saying something. If they genuinely care about your feelings, their opinion of you would only improve because knowing how important something is to you makes them look at everything else through a new lens.
How Do I Know What I’m Feeling?
It might seem like emotions come out of nowhere, but they do not just appear. An event triggers emotions. For example, maybe you feel angry because you were sitting on your own at lunch today while everyone else sat together without inviting you over, and you recall that time in high school when nobody wanted to sit with you. Every emotion has a root cause.
When you ask yourself the question, what am I feeling, try breaking it down into smaller questions, and you will figure out why you’re feeling a certain way:
- What am I thinking?
- What am I doing or not doing?
- Who else is involved, and what did they do?
Notice how asking these smaller questions can help you break down the bigger question into something easier to answer.
Sometimes we feel angry for unclear reasons. The lack of clarity is is a sign we’re upset with ourselves for something we think we should be able to do but can’t seem to. When that happens, try asking yourself:
- Am I being fair to myself about this?
- Are my expectations reasonable?
When you know why you’re feeling a certain way, it often becomes easier to trust your feelings and express them honestly instead of becoming consumed with worrying about what other people will think.
Determining what you feel and speaking your truth will make a difference in your life, relationships, mental health, and overall joy and happiness. Remember, it’s okay to stand up for your feelings and know that you deserve happiness and respect.
How Can I Find Out What I’m Feeling So That I Can Speak My Truth?
When we don’t know or understand what we feel, it’s hard to communicate with others even if we love them. We may have asked ourselves the high-level question of what I am feeling and have refined the question, but we still need more clarity.
The following will help you zoom in more precisely as to what you are feeling.
If you think you might be feeling one of these feelings for reasons that make sense to you, here are some fill in the blank examples of how you might find your truth:
A. I feel __________(hurt, sad, mad, angry, frustrated) because_____________
Fill in the blank with your feelings and thinking, e.g., I was looking forward to watching that movie tonight, and then she told me she didn’t want me at her party, or she said I’m not allowed to go anywhere without checking with her first.
B. I feel _____________(embarrassed, ashamed) by their behavior because ________________________
Fill in the blank again, e.g., She started yelling at me even though I wasn’t doing anything wrong.
C. I feel anxious because ________________
Fill in the blank, e.g., I feel like I need to check in with him all the time or he’ll be upset even though he’s already busy, and it’s not like we don’t talk on the phone during the day anyway, or she keeps telling me she doesn’t want to go out but then gets mad when I don’t ask her if she wants to hang out more.
D. I feel hurt because _____________________
Fill in this one too, e.g., it feels unfair for us to fight every time we spend time together, or she never asks what I’ve been up to lately, so I know she doesn’t care about me anymore.
E. I feel scared that ___________________________
Fill in the blank with the statement that is true for you, e.g., if I tell him that he hurt my feelings, he’ll get mad at me, or she’s never listened to me before.
Knowing how you feel is paramount to speaking your truth. However, you will learn how you think, and your thoughts about a situation are not permanent and can be changed. For more information, see our personal growth guides: Emotions and the Connection to Body Sensations, or How Your Beliefs Create Your Reality.
How Can I Prepare for Telling My Truth?
When we are afraid to tell our truth, generally, the fear results from us overestimating the potential negative consequences or underestimating what we have to gain from speaking up or both. So it helps if we can remind ourselves of these things before telling our truth:
- What do I have to lose?
- What do I have to gain?
- What were my goals in speaking my truth?
Telling our truth can be uncomfortable, but it doesn’t mean others will get angry at us or withdraw from us. On the contrary, when we think about what we stand to gain when we tell our truth, like feeling closer to someone, building our self-worth and self-trust, and validation, it’s easier to see why telling the truth might be worth it.
How Can I Make Telling Our Truth Feel More Natural?
Telling your truth can feel unnatural or scary because you may not know what will happen after you say something.
- Will the other person get mad?
- Will they stop talking to me?
- What if they yell at me?
These things may occur, but perhaps you will find that the person you shared your true self with is the greatest, most understanding friend you have ever had?
Telling our truth can feel scary because we can’t know for sure how someone will react. We may feel afraid of what will happen, the anger, the rejection, being vulnerable. So it’s wise to consider whether those are outcomes you would regret.
Your truth is powerful even if it doesn’t always feel that way at the moment, as speaking your truth has the power to change your life for the better. Whether or not others know about what’s going on, you can bet your life is still being shaped by what you do or choose not to do every day.
The next time you’re feeling mad, sad, mad, or even just a little discouraged, let yourself be upset and acknowledge your true feelings without fearing what others might think about them. It can feel scary to do this, especially when we’re afraid of being judged. However, what lies on the other side is almost always better than the sadness from not speaking up.
Speaking your truth may seem hard at first, but once you start doing it, you’ll discover just how much easier it makes life. It also just might change your world. So be strong, which does not mean hiding from the darkness. On the contrary, being strong is seeing yourself in the light when there’s darkness all around. Make a difference, speak your truth and be seen.