PART 5: WHEN TO VOICE, WHEN TO BE SILENT
(Continued from Part 4: Gauge The Stage)
Every day of our lives, we are faced with many choices, whether to flee or to face, whether to voice or to remain silent. There is no quick and easy answer as to how to find our right voice. We learn that to voice is an unfolding process.
Giving voice is central to my spiritual path and a root reason for my personal being. So my life feels like one big experiment in voicing. As with all experiments, we find great teachers, we go through the ups and downs of trial and error where hindsight becomes a powerful ally.
Finding our vocal power is connected to finding our authentic expression and our place in the world. As such, it is part of growing, maturing, becoming wise. There have been times that I have given voice when in hindsight, it would have been wiser for me to remain quiet. And the opposite has also been true, when silence weakened me and I allowed it to hold me imprisoned.
But there are few times that I regret what I have chosen to do, whether I chose to speak up or to remain quiet. I don’t believe regret brings us anything other than backward thinking. Rather than looking at life in the here and now, by living with regret we miss the present. Eclipsed by our past, we gaze at life through a rear-view mirror. Sincere remorse is different from regret. If remorse helps us to humbly learn and grow, regret keeps us stuck in the past.
In the process or learning to give voice, we will stumble and fall. We risk appearing silly and feeling hurt when we “put our self out there” in any way. The greater the perceived risk, the greater the perceived fall. But when challenging the fear of falling, I have found that there never was anything to fall from in the first place.
What other people think of us does not matter. At the end of our life, when our bodies turn to dust, it will be our own choices that we will have to face. We will be left with questions like, “Did I love well? Did I live fully?” My sense is, when we are standing at death’s door, the times we held ourselves back in fear will seem as though we allowed a cloud to convince us that the sun does not exist.
As we learn to find the courage to speak our truth or be silent when we feel inwardly called to be, we need to learn to manage the part of us that does not want to grow. The part of us that wants status quo is going to create all sorts of reasons why not to be true to who we are. It will say, “Stay small. Hide. Don’t do it. I may get hurt.”
Someone whose approval we wanted may laugh and ridicule us. We may feel embarrassed. We may judge ourselves as being stupid for what we feel and the desire to express. But I can guarantee that it hurts way more to not do what we need to do and say what we need to say, and remain frozen in fear. (I enjoy John Mayer’s song about this, “Say What You Need To Say“.)
When we feel we must, we must. In hindsight, we may regret it, but we will not know until we try. And if we are humble and wiling to learn, there is no better teaching than life itself. By trying, we will know for next time what works best for us and we will learn to better attune ourselves to our inner voice and our natural, authentic expression of it.
So when is it the right time to speak up and when is it the right time to be silent? Ultimately, only you will know. But there are keys signs from our body/being when we are authentically aligned with our highest good.
When you feel rooted, vital and expansive speaking, speak. When you feel rooted, vital and expansive being silent, be silent. But then, you may ask, how do I know if I feel rooted, vital and expansive? This will only come after practice.
I sometimes imagine myself in the future after either having spoken up or remained quiet. How would I feel? Would I regret not speaking, if I chose to remain silent, or would I feel peaceful and warmly joyful? Would I feel remorse if I did speak up or would I feel free, vibrant and relaxed? Then go with the choice that brings you the greatest amount of rooted, vital expansion.
You can do this imagined testing when you are undecided in the moment. Rooting comes from the contact your feet have with the ground, how your energy travels down your spine. Vitality comes from an arising, once you are rooted, feeling an uplifting movement travel through your spine. Expansion happens when rooted and vital, so that there is a feeling of openness, surrender, receptivity to this moment. When feeling rooted, vital and expansive, there is a feeling of balanced rightness, neither too high and light, nor too heavy and stuck; neither too quiet nor too loud, but just right, perfectly you, in balance with who you are.
Enjoy being you. You are unique and the only expression of you in all of time. Ultimately, I believe there is no real right or wrong, only an honouring and aligning yourself with your truest self, or living in fear and for other people’s dreams of who they feel you should be. The choice of your voice is totally up to you.