I recently decided to start a podcast to explore the topic of Truth. In my mind as I currently have it, this will be a six-part series entirely focused on the workings of the inner voice. Below is the transcript for episode 2. You can listen to the episode on Spotify, or by clicking here.
Transcript to the Podcast:
Defining the Ins and Outs of Being True to Yourself
Hello. My name is Maria and this is Always Say the Unsaid, a podcast with a focus on uncovering Truth from the inside out.
A few weeks ago I got a text from a friend. Her kids had just been home with her, day in and day out, for several weeks. On the morning that they finally returned to school, she saw them out the door and told them that she would miss them. Then, and only in her text to me, she added, I lied.
This is obviously a good kind of lie. It’s the kind of lie we parents tell our kids all the time. This is the kind of lie that says, I love you, even if I need space from you.
Sometimes this kind of lie sounds like Yes, I have time for you, when you really don’t, or, Yes, I want to hear this story, when really you want to be alone, or, No, I don’t mind sharing, when really you do.
This is not what always saying the unsaid is about.
When these words, or this phrase, first came to me, I was in my twenties and going through a particularly rough time. I was going through a rough time because someone had lied, and this wasn’t just your average, run of the mill kind of lie. It was a doozy, and it shook me to my core. It was the kind of lie that makes you question absolutely everything.
The exact nature of that lie is less important than the effect it had on me. It shaped everything about my life from that point forward. I became physically incapable of handling lies or untruths or inauthenticites in any way. I honestly couldn’t keep anything in. My mouth would just spew information that was really nobody’s business, and to anyone who would listen, because that’s just how important it became for me to avoid falsehood of any kind. It’s like I was eliminating toxins from my body – it all needed to come out. “Always say the unsaid” became a motto I used to justify who I was at this time in my life – someone who was going to say things no matter what. I figured I might as well sound deep and quotable about it.
Almost 20 years later, I no longer have this physical need to completely vomit out absolutely everything that jars me in an inauthentic way, and the meaning of the phrase has moved inward. It’s less about speaking out, more about listening in. Does that make any kind of sense to you?
Let me try and rephrase that.
I believe that when we lie, we lie to ourselves first. I believe that most people lie to themselves more than anyone else in their lives… So, the first place we need to start when telling the truth is with ourselves. We need to tell ourselves what we’ve been avoiding saying, we need to say the seemingly unspeakable truths of our souls that we try to hide from our own minds and hearts.
What are examples of things we hide from ourselves?
That we’re unhappy in our relationships. That we hate our jobs. Or that our jobs give us meaning. Maybe sometimes it’s that we love everything about parenthood. Or that we’re happy just as things are. Or that we understand why that friend was not there for us when we needed them, that it’s ok that they were just really busy. Or that we don’t mind the extra projects that were assigned to us. Maybe it’s that we forgive that person that really, deeply hurt us.
There are so many ways that we lie to ourselves each and every day.
Recently, I came to see that one of the biggest lies I use, like, all the freaking time, is “it’s fine”. When I say it’s fine, it’s not at all fine. I just say it because I’m being passive-aggressive, and because I’m being lazy and not wanting to do the work, and because I’m trying to avoid conflict, and because I’m shy or embarrassed or being all introverty… But never because it’s actually fine. NEVER because it’s fine.
So, “always say the unsaid” has for me become more about taking my head out of the sand, and paying attention to who I am, what I want, what I mean, how I feel, etc etc. To stop hiding from myself. Once I’ve conquered that, I think there will be a natural progression towards bringing this truth to the outer world. I’ll get there, but truth is an inside job.
It’s probably obvious by now, although I did mention this in episode one, that I’m making this podcast not as an expert in the field, but as someone who is still floundering about and trying to figure it out. I have spent my entire life both fighting against my truth, and trying to get back to it. I just happen to be at a place now – mentally and emotionally – where I’m ready to listen and take heed. I’m tired of the fight, and I am just ready, for whatever the universe wants me to learn.
So I’m not here talking into this microphone as an expert. But there are lots of people who I do consider experts, and I will probably refer to them from time to time. I’m going to give you my favourite takeaways from the last 4 nonfiction books I’ve read, in order.
First, I read Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender by David R. Hawkins. I thought this was an important book for me to read specifically because surrendering is something that I find incredibly hard. I like control, I am a control freak. There’s a line in the movie Days of Thunder where Nicole Kidman turns to Tom Cruise and says, “Control is an illusion, you infantile egomaniac!” (and I know I’m totally ageing myself here). I love this line, even though it is me that is the infantile egomaniac. It’s my inability to let go of control that stops me from letting go.
My biggest takeaway of this book is the practice of actually looking head on at the things that are bothering us and the feelings that are bubbling under the surface. I didn’t realize before this book how often I actually ignore my own feelings. How often does something bother you and you just shrug it off like it’s nothing? All the freakin’ time. The key is to stay with the feeling like a pig in its own pile of poop until it has resolved itself.
Honestly, this was major for me. Like, it’s one thing to feel annoyed, it’s another to stay with the annoyed feelings, to allow them to exist, to not run from them or hide them, and even to openly acknowledge them. By not fighting against them, they can dissipate on their own, and in their own time. Magic.
Next, I read Atlas of the Heart by Brene Brown. I think Brene Brown is great because she’s so down to earth, she feels very approachable and real. She’s an academic, but she doesn’t have her brow in the air – she really keeps it real for her audience. This particular book is like an encyclopaedia of human emotion, it gives labels and meaning to just about every emotion under the sun.
Again, for me in particular, this was key because I was practicing what I learned in the previous book, so being able to mindfully put names and labels to the emotions was really helpful. It was by using what I learned from these two books that I discovered that I have been living with a feeling of anxiety for…probably decades. I honestly didn’t even realize it. I had this feeling in my chest that had been there for so long that it felt like it just belonged there, like it was normal. Like this is something that all people feel all the time. But it’s not… I mean… isn’t that crazy? I consider myself a pretty aware person, but I really had blinders on this one.
Martha Beck’s The Way of Integrity is honestly one of my favourite books of the year. It’s just so smart and real, and everything is so obvious when you read it. I borrowed this book from the library, but loved it so much that I then purchased my own copy.
Two of my favourite take-aways from the book are the one degree method, and the ‘is it warm’ method. The one degree is about taking baby steps, gradually altering your course in the direction you want to go instead of trying to do a 180 all at once. It’s easier, more manageable and way less scary to think about your personal development goals in small one degree shifts. The ‘is it warm’ method is about going inside to ask yourself whether something feels warm or cold. I have a hard time with this one only because it really requires you to be in tune with yourself. I have a habit of getting all caught up inside my head. If I need to make a choice between two things it’s hard for me to get down into my body to see what feels warm, cause I’m still all up in my head. But I love the idea of this one, and I think I can get better at it by one degrees.
I’m currently re-reading Byron Katie’s Loving What Is. I first read this book back when I was in my twenties, back in the verbal diarrhea phase of truth management. I don’t think I was ready for it back then, I wasn’t ready for what Byron Katie calls The Work. Oh, but if I were, I would have saved myself about twenty years worth of pain.
I’m trying to think of a way to describe The Work in a way that is easy to comprehend… Probably I can’t, probably you should just go read Byron Katie… but I’ll give it my best shot. Basically, take something or someone that you’re frustrated about, write down every single petty thing you think or feel about that thing or person, then ask yourself a series of very specific questions in order to tease out the truth of the situation. I won’t go into the questions now but, if you do it properly, every time you are left understanding that much of what we tell ourselves is false information – lies and stories that keep us away from our truth. I find that in the time that I’ve been reading her book and actively applying The Work I feel calmer, like I’m looking at things differently. And hopefully, as I continue to apply The Work, I’ll uncover more of my truth.
So to break it down, truth is not just telling it as you see it all day and every day, and truth is turning inward and paying attention to what bubbles up. It’s as simple as that. It’s funny how sometimes in life the most difficult things to digest are the things with the simplest ingredients.
I decided that – since this podcast is for me all about accountability – that I needed to include specific ways in which I did the necessary work in the past week. How was I truthful to myself this week?
So here is my example. The other day my husband and I were having a chat about a social get together that was being planned. I had already stated the day before that I was uncomfortable hosting at our house, for very stupid reasons like that we have a small house, and it would feel cramped, and because I would feel stressed to tidy up, and because I’m just not comfortable being social anyway. So that morning when we were discussing for the second time, I reiterated that I didn’t want the gathering to be at our home. In my mind, meeting at a restaurant, or at someone else’s home, would save me some stress. My husband responded by asking me to stop. Please stop, he said. I need you to stop talking. So I assumed he was asking me to stop talking altogether, to basically shut up. Which made me incensed. My train of thought sounded something like this: How dare he silence me? How dare he ask me to shut up? How can he even think that’s okay? As a father of daughters he should know better than to silence a woman, he should know that’s not okay!
And after fuming for a good long while I made the decision to be courageous and I told him what was on my mind. I’m speaking my truth, I said out loud.
And he was like, dude, I’m not trying to shut you up, I would never do that. I did want you to stop repeating the same stressful sentiment over and over again because it was starting to stress ME out. I was setting a boundary, keep your stress to yourself. If you don’t want people here, fine. I heard you, we’ll do something else. I just wanted you to stop talking about that specifically.
And when I stopped to hear him, I knew that what he was saying was totally fair. And that I was being totally crazy, on all accounts. I even realized that my rabbit hole about having people over was totally crazy. I was fighting with what Byron Katie would call reality, and I was losing.
Truthfully, it’s not having people over that was causing me stress, it was my perceptions over their possible opinions of my house, over their possible judgments, over all kinds of things that were completely in my head and in no way a reality to my current circumstance. I was believing my own stories and causing myself pain. And truthfully, the people we were making plans with were not judgy people, so this really was all in my own head. And once I realized this truth, it disappeared. I apologized to my husband for my crazy, and told him it was okay with me if he wanted to have people over.
Needless to say, all that pain was for nothing. Funny, eh? How we do this to ourselves….
Speaking of which, here’s a question to ask yourself: How are you doing the work this week?
That’s all for this episode. Next time, I’d like to talk about assumptions, and the stories we tell ourselves, and maybe what we should listen to instead of the stories… because the inner voice is always the first, to say the unsaid.
Bye for now.