The Quakers have a beautiful saying, “Speaking truth to power.” This quote captures the essence of what I call the Courage to Confront. If you lack this capacity, you cannot move with integrity in the world. You are holding something vital back. If you wish to move from your current reality toward your dreams, you must be able speak your truth into the world–to yourself and to others–with compassion and grace. Shouting at others or speaking up only when you are angry, is not what I mean by confronting. That is dumping on others. People do not listen when we dump on them; they shut down, withdraw or dump back on us. I repeat, this is NOT the courage to confront. It might get media coverage or boost social media followership, but it will not serve anyone in the long run. It is far more likely to start a war – whether at home, at work, or between nations.
The courage to confront is to speak with both grace and clarity as to what you believe to be true, what you see and what you feel. However, if your way of “confronting” is to make the other side completely wrong, to blame or to shame, then you are off the path and lack the courage to really speak from your heart. The heart does not blame; it discerns what is and speaks simply and directly. Finding the courage to speak up, to share what you are seeing, feeling or thinking in a positive and compassionate way is liberating. You feel both more powerful and also more engaged with yourself and the world. This means finding your true voice and expressing yourself – knowing you have a right, just as all do, to be heard.
Are you willing to find your way back to your authentic voice, the part of you that not only dreams for a better tomorrow, and clearly sees the current reality, but is also willing to speak up, owning insights and truths without making others wrong? Make a list of the things you have not been saying but that you know need to be said. Then feel into what keeps you from speaking up in your true, authentic voice. Remember to tap into the resources–internal and external–that you have available to support taking a stand. Remember the honest, direct statements that are made by the very young, and how these most often do not carry the personal judgment and condemnation that adults use. Practice truth telling in a journal or by speaking to your mirror. Then graduate to sharing with those others who are prepared to listen non-defensively and who will help you clarify your position through thoughtful questions or comments. By taking different perspectives into account, your own message will become more powerful.
Finally, with your message clearly in mind, dare to speak your truth. The world needs you to do it!
By Robert E. Staub