There’s a huge problem with silencing ourselves to “keep the peace” for those who were never at peace in the first place.
We end up lacking the self-trust to actually feel the things we feel.
When I was a little girl, it was so evident to me that my mother was resistant to healing herself. She feared that the moment she began, the floodgates of her own hell would open and she’d end up in a psychiatric unit.
Resistance keeps us hidden from our own truth, and thus hidden—period.
We can’t not feel, even when we think we’re not feeling. When we push feelings away, we end up dumping them on those around us who are willing to engage them. They, in turn, reflect those feelings back to us, becoming a symbol of the original wounding itself.
That’s who I was to my mother. She ended up with me, a daughter, instead of the son she desperately hoped for, a sensitive and empathetic child who cried for reasons no one else understood. In truth, I was crying the tears my mother refused to shed. Because I was a constant symbol of her own wounds, she rarely found a way to see me as my own being.
Because of this, my sense of self went invalidated—and so did every feeling that came with it. I thought that in order to be loved, I had to not feel. I had to find a way to be likable, suffocating myself with powerlessness in the process.
From birth, our “likability” is the ticket to survival and belonging, so of course, we learn how to acquiesce to other people’s standards and follow suit. The problem with this is that we rarely get to decide what we like or want, while we’re following orders from a social system that tells us, “This is how to act.”
As a result, we hinder our natural emotional experiences by overriding them with logic, so they’re never felt, but always present. The walls we build around ourselves feel more like those of army barracks than of a cozy castle, keeping us further separate from the self we wished would’ve been validated in the first place—the self we wish to set free.
People with extensive walls (I’ve been one of them) think they’re hiding their emotions and experiences well, but the truth is, they wear their emotions and experiences, albeit not fully, in every action, word, and thought, often making a mess for others around them. These projections can be backhanded, manipulative, and even abusive.
When we’re raised to invalidate our feelings and experiences, we’re asked to betray our own truth. We know exactly where to find it within us, but we’re not allowed to hold it for ourselves. Our truth feels fatally reserved for someone else to approve of before we feel comfortable to let it be what it actually is.
If you’ve spent your whole life swallowing your truth to the point that you feel like you may choke on yourself for the sake of belonging and likability, this is for you—for only when we stand in our truth can we truly embrace the totality of our lives.
When we let what others believe about us serve as the basis for our own self-worth, we don’t fully own the person living inside of us. We’re escaping her, giving her away, feeling out of control by her, all the while pissed that the world is making us betray ourselves by caring more about what they think and feel than what she thinks and feels.
I doubt I’ll ever fully eradicate the part of myself that feels safer being liked. I doubt I’ll ever fully get rid of not caring what people think. After two and a half years of being un-silenced, I’m learning how naturally thick skin forms the moment we speak from the person inside of us, the one we’ve been escaping all these years. When we speak our truth, we are emboldened by it, and to be in resonance with truth means we are turned on, from the inside out.
We don’t first need thicker skin to be in our truth; rather, we need to validate and honor our truth before we can truly be resilient. Although it might be scary, we need not fear the repercussions of disappointing those for whose sake we stay hidden by coming out of hiding. Thick skin is established each time we decide to honor ourselves rather than to betray ourselves.
It happens naturally.
The truth is, it feels safer to be liked, but it’s truly not if it’s by the wrong kind of people.
The truth is, once we become our truth, we inevitably find the right kind of people, and when the wrong kind (for us) show up and drop bombs in our hearts where our own worst critic is standing, our skin is thick enough to stand through the explosion rather than fall to our knees in tears.
The truth is, my love, we didn’t come to be liked. We came here to be love.
You have permission to speak now. You are safe because you are love. You will stay safe because they too are love. Your truth will not kill you; it will set you free.
Releasing the feeling that you’re constantly choking on yourself frees you up to breathe the cleanest air imaginable, and that breath feels like the closest thing to freedom I’ve ever tasted in this lifetime.
Author: Stacy Hoch
Image: Mallory Johndrow/Unsplash
Editor: Callie Rushton
Copy Editor: Danielle Beutell
Social Editor: Yoli Ramazzina