Speaking Your Truth and Asking for What You Need
I believe a great subtitle for this blog could be, ‘Daring Greatly’ because, if you are anything like me, speaking your truth and asking for what you need can feel very risky. However, if you want to show up, be seen and live brave™ in your life, learning how to speak your truth and to ask for what you need are skills you are going to want to cultivate and develop.
I came to realize how important this was during my first year of marriage.
My first year of marriage was not what I expected. Without going into too much detail and oversharing in such a public forum, suffice it to say that my needs weren’t being met, but I didn’t know how to speak that truth and ask for what I needed. I was afraid! I was afraid that if I spoke my truth I would hurt my husband’s feelings. I worried about how ‘my truth’ would affect my new marriage. I was full of self doubt and self criticism. The thoughts that swirled around in my head were…you must be crazy, the first year is supposed to be fun and easy, what’s wrong with you!
I tried to talk to my husband but was not having much success. In hindsight, I now know that the reason I wasn’t having much success is because I was only speaking half truths, and I myself wasn’t clear on what I needed.
I knew we needed help!
So we got it! We starting seeing a marriage counselor. Her name was Mary and to this day, 24 years later, Bill and I both give her credit in helping us create the amazing marriage we have today.
Through working with her I learned that I needed to practice being vulnerable about how I was feeling. Yes, talking about how I was feeling was scary. There was uncertainty about how it was going to be received and I felt emotionally exposed. Brené Brown, author of Daring Greatly defines vulnerability as uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure. This ‘speaking your truth and asking for what you need’ thing is the definition of being vulnerable!
So, how do we do it?
I’ve been practicing since those early days of my marriage, and here is what I’ve learned along the way:
1. Clarity is vital – get really clear about your truth and what you need. There are lots of ways to do this. My two favorite methods are journaling and talking to a trusted friend. Journaling allows you to gather your thoughts and feelings and to look at them more objectively. “Is this really true for me?” is the question I ask myself as I’m putting my thoughts on paper.
When it comes to talking to my friends I reach out to friends that I know are going to offer me other ways of looking at the situation. In these conversations, I’m not looking for my friends to agree with everything I’m saying but rather to challenge me with such questions as, “Do you “really believe that?”, or “Have you considered how this looks from a different perspective?”. Fortunately, I’ve surrounded myself with trusted friends who know they can challenge me to look at my beliefs and truth test them so to speak.
2. Timing matters – wait for your reaction to subside so you can choose your response. This lesson has been a game changer in so many areas of my life and I call it, ‘pushing the pause button’. Pushing the pause button involves waiting until my reactive self – the part of me that is angry, frustrated, hurt, etc. – has settled and my more responsive self has shown up. Sometimes this happens in moments, sometimes hours, and sometimes days or even weeks. When I speak out of reaction it feels out of control and oftentimes I say things I don’t mean vs when I wait until the storm has settled I can speak my truth and ask for what I need from a calmer place and this always leads to clearer communication.
3. Avoid blame – have you ever noticed how big of a problem defensiveness can be in hindering communication? To avoid this, practice using “I” statements instead of “you” statements. “I” statements allow you to take ownership of your feelings, while “you” statement point the finger at the other person and this can lead to them getting defensive.
A friend of mine recently told me that she has a sign in her office that says, “Speak your truth, even if your voice shakes”. I love this!!!! I think it sums up the idea that speaking our truth and asking for what we need can be an uncomfortable thing to do but in the long run its the only way to live an authentic life. So, here’s to Daring Greatly one truth at a time! ~ Laura
ps. If you’d like a little help practicing this, please consider joining me at Wholistic Woman Retreats next ‘Be You’ event. The topic is ‘Be Daring’ and I will be presenting. For details and registration information, click here
Where in your life do you want to Show up, Be Seen and Live Brave™? As a certified professional coach since 2009, Laura Hall has been helping people just like you make changes in their lives. As a mother of 2 girls, Laura has a special interest in coaching parents, so if you still have children living at home, ask Laura about her Wholehearted Parenting programs. Laura can be reached via email at [email protected] or feel free to visit her website HallCoaching.com