What keeps you from being yourself?
What keeps you from expressing yourself?
Because you are YOU, all the time, but maybe something’s keeping you from being you out loud. Maybe parts of you are staying quiet. Why is that?
Sometimes it’s habit. Sometimes it’s convention. Sometimes it’s just easier to be quiet than to be yourself, out loud.
But sometimes what gets between you and sharing your authentic self is fear.
Fear of being misunderstood, fear of being judged, fear of being dismissed.
And when you let that fear start talking — well, it has a lot to say, doesn’t it? It sounds like: What if? What if? What if?
For a long time, one thing kept me from writing what I really thought. For a long time I worried, What if I change my mind?
What if I wrote something down, or took a stand, or argued a point, and then later didn’t believe that thing any more?
The words would always be there in black and white—or in peoples’ memories—reminding me that I’d been mistaken.
I had what Anne Lamott calls the toxic radio playing inside my head.
The speaker in one ear was telling me that everyone else was paying attention to what I said in the first place; the speaker in the other ear said I was probably wrong about everything. Put them together and I was sure that if I wrote or spoke my opinions, they would be called out and stomped on.
I don’t love to be mistaken. (Does anyone?) But maybe “being mistaken” is the wrong way to think about it.
In other words, I think I was mistaken in my fear of being mistaken. That’s… awesome.
Because changing your outlook isn’t about being wrong, it’s about making progress.
Moving, breathing, growing, changing: these are signs of life. These are signs of health. As we grow our perspective changes, and we come to better understand the world around us.
Every single thing that lives, changes. Even you. Even me.
Writing what I believe lets me chart that progress.
Speaking my opinions aloud brings feedback, and feedback (goodfeedback, anyway) helps me to see my blind spots.
When we bring our ideas out into the light, we can examine them, turn them over, see where they might need an adjustment.
Maybe the greater danger isn’t that we would change our minds, but that we would be stuck in old ways of thinking.
Maya Angelou taught us that when we know better, we do better—and I want to know and do better, both. I want to grow.
This is part of what living in wholeness means.
We cannot live in wholeness if we are silencing the parts of ourselves that might maybe someday possibly experience a change of heart.
Now when fear starts whispering: what if… I use that whisper as my signal to shift my thinking, and to flip the script from “what if I do?” to “what if I don’t?”
Because if I DON’T, well, no, I wouldn’t have to worry about that particular kind of criticism. But I also wouldn’t ever get to do the thing I want to do. I wouldn’t ever get to express myself. I wouldn’t ever get to be my whole self, out loud.
Being your self—your whole self, your self that changes and grows and is sometimes wrong—is worth the criticism. It’s worth the risk. It’s worth trying.
Even if it means feeling the fear and then doing it anyway.