…And when staying silent can be healing, too.
In light of all the recent #MeToo postings and all the stories that have been floating to the surface of mass consciousness, I have been pondering about the issue of speaking up and speaking out.
For many highly sensitive people or empaths, the process of finding your voice, trusting in it, and using it with confidence is a common one.
Many have experienced being silenced in childhood, or having their voices questioned, derided, or worse. Highly sensitive people, with their keen sense of perception, have often pointed out truths that are inconvenient to others, even at an early age. Young and innocent sensitives often voice out these truths guilelessly, without any hidden agenda or motives, simply pointing out what they do see – and not knowing the potential reactions this may elicit.
Unwittingly, this action of innocently speaking out can trigger other people’s wounds and bump up against their egos – and the backlash can be harsh and furious. As a result, many then learn from an early age that it’s far safer to stay silent and hold their tongues. Some convince themselves that they aren’t really seeing what they are truly seeing and experiencing. Others are content to think their thoughts while never daring to express them. This could then seep into other areas of life, leading to a difficulty or inability in asking for what one needs, expressing oneself creatively, and having difficulty in communicating with others. Of course, a whole host of factors can also come into play here, including cultural, family and individual personality differences.
This creates a habit of silence. And when an entire group of people share similar experiences of being silenced, it becomes a culture of silence – with each person reinforcing it in the other. In a patriarchal society, women are the ones who tend to be silenced. When someone’s power is dependent upon your silence, they will be invested in you remaining silent.
Speak to Heal
Regardless of your experience with speaking your thoughts, feelings, and your own personal truth – speaking can be a radical act, and an immensely healing one as well.
Moving from silence to having confidence in your own voice is a process, so it’s important to be patient with yourself! It takes time to unlearn a habit. Practice is key in doing so. Start with the medium that you are most confident in first. Whether it’s writing, singing, through art – these are all ways of Speaking.
One thing that could help is to prize and prioritize the act of self-expression rather than the reaction you might get to what you say.
Speaking allows energy to flow through your system freely. It’s allowing what’s inside of you to be heard, to interact with the world out there, and to come back to you in a feedback loop. When that feedback loop is stopped, it creates a block in the flow. Issues may arise because of this blockage. Dislodging this blockage in turn creates healing.
Seen through the lens of the chakra system, speaking is associated with the throat chakra.
When Silence is a Choice
You’re the only one who can know if you’re ready to speak about your own experiences or trauma. You should never feel coerced or obligated to speak on it. There are times when trauma or difficult experiences need to marinate before you are ready for it to be spoken about in the light of day, for it to be heard and honored by others. And that is okay. Our psyches can be incredibly complex – there are times when it builds up defenses so that you can carry on with your life; and at other times it takes its own time to become strong enough to confront certain truths.
There is no timeline for healing, no fixed schedule you need to be on.
So sometimes it’s enough to simply hear others speak their truth. It can be healing to listen to others’ healing journeys. Or it could also be re-traumatizing. It could stir up memories you may have blocked from yourself.
Or it could also inspire you to speak about your own, speak up on someone else’s behalf, or to finally call out your abuser or oppressor. And I think we have seen examples of all of the above at this time, and maybe even some controversial examples of those just learning about the power of their voices.
So as much as it’s important to speak, it’s also important to discern when you are truly choosing to be silent – or defaulting to silence because you are more comfortable with it. As always, it all starts with self-awareness.
How do you experience your voice? How do you experience the power of your own self-expression?
(Featured image artist unknown.)