Today I did something scary.
That scary thing didn’t require me to leave my house. I didn’t even get out of my PJs.
Nonetheless, this thing put me into straight-up worry-mode.
I told a friend on Instagram that I was proud of them.
Yep, that’s it. I felt fear bubbling up because of one typed out sentence on an app. But it got me thinking: why is it so scary to tell someone I care about and admire that I’m proud of them? Why does this make me feel so vulnerable? And is this something that I can improve on?
Being able to speak our truth is the most empowering and meaningful thing we can learn how to do. But it can also be the scariest and the most vulnerable. I have found, when it’s scary for us to speak our truth—whether it is to tell someone that we love them or to share our gratitude, appreciation, or admiration—it means that we, consciously or unconsciously, have expectations to receive something in return.
The question now becomes: how do we release these expectations to be able to speak our truth without fear?
Ultimately, we have to uncover the original fear or the original trauma that comes with our desired expectations. For example: if you are afraid to tell someone that you work with that they did a really great job helping you with a project, then the fear or trauma you might need to find and heal in yourself is the fear of needing help.
When viewed from this perspective, it’s easy to see the correlation: the things that are difficult to say are also the difficult things we ask for—love, acceptance, and approval.
If you find that trauma/fear in your history, and learn how to take care of and forgive yourself, you might eventually overcome the trauma or at least deal with it in a healthier way. At that point, you won’t have the fear of your coworker judging you. Instead, you’ll be able to speak your truth and apply gratitude or appreciation where it is needed. This can not only empower the people around you, but you, too. You’ll be able to receive what you need and welcome these things instead of berating yourself for them.
For me and my Instagram post, showing pride in my friend brought up fear that they might not feel pride in me. When I released the expectation of feelings returned, I was able to fearlessly speak my truth about how amazing my friend is.
This road of uncovering past trauma or fear and learning how to care for yourself through them in a healthy way is something that can take a long time. It’s also something that you might not be able to do by yourself (and that’s okay). There are resources available to you, such as therapists, coaches, and community gatherings to help you uncover and recover from it.
It’s important to emphasize that the reason there are so many resources available for this is because it’s something that every single person needs to do at some point. Everyone needs to learn how to live with these fears or traumas in order to live from a place of authenticity and confidence. Read that again. Every single person goes through this. It’s not something to be self-conscious of, although, it is something to be self-aware of.
This journey of healing is important for everyone, not only because everybody has healing to do, but also because nobody else can contribute to the world in the way that you can.
Imagine being able to tell the person you love that you love them. Imagine being able to thank someone who has helped you through a really difficult time. Imagine being able to tell someone you admire that you admire them. Imagine the type of change you can spark in the people and the relationships around you and, ultimately, in the social ecosystem that you influence.
Self-work is scary and it’s hard and it can take a long time. You might even need help to get through it. But it is also the most rewarding, empowering, and important thing you can do.
So the next time you find yourself unable to say the thing that you want to say, take a few breaths to see if you’re reacting from a trauma or fear you have been trying to release.
Maybe from that perspective, you’ll be able to build up the courage to speak your truth and step into your power.