Podcast: Always Say the Unsaid Episode 6, Consciousness

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 5. You can listen to the episode on Spotify, or by clicking here.

Transcript to the Podcast:

Episode 5: Consciousness

Hello. Welcome to Always Say the Unsaid. This is the final episode in my 6-part series on capital-T Truth. 

I created this podcast because I wanted an opportunity to focus on truth, on truthfulness, on authenticity. I wanted to really dig into the meaning of what it means to operate from a place of truth. Today’s final episode is really about getting down to the heart of the matter, of really narrowing down that definition of inner truth. Essentially, it all comes down to one word: Consciousness. 

I’ve heard this word “consciousness” a lot over the years. Obviously there are popular spiritual thinkers such as Eckhart Tolle who have promoted this word quite a bit. But I didn’t truly understand it until just this year… I even went to go see Eckhart Tolle speak live about 4 years ago, and he is really the cutest and very funny and humbling, but things didn’t sink in for me back then. I wasn’t open enough to understanding. And then this year I finally read A New Earth, 25 years after it was written (and, really, I do wish I had been understanding enough to read it 25 years ago), and finally, finally, finally, it sunk in. I believe “we read the books we’re meant to read in the moment we’re meant to read them,” and this was a perfect example. 

So, then, what is consciousness? 

It’s the easiest thing. It’s pure simplicity. 

Consciousness is the God within us. It’s our most true selves. It’s who we are. It’s life itself, and it’s beyond life, too. Consciousness is without dimension. 

Does that make things any clearer? 🙂

There is our thinking mind, which is often beyond our control. We try to control it, but it is a bit of a wild horse. The more we try to control it, the more out of control it gets. But when we move beyond the crazy that is the thinking mind, when we speak to ourselves on a deeper level, when we’re communicating with the things that feel right, feel true, that make us feel free or feel love, that is communicating with consciousness. The happy side effect is that the stronger our communication with consciousness becomes, the healthier our thoughts become.

So, let’s ask some questions. 

How does one connect with consciousness? 

First of all, I’d suggest you read A New Earth. It really is very, very good. 

In this field I am a student, not a master, therefore go to the masters for specific answers to your questions. But as a student, this is what I’ve learned:

Everything begins with awareness. When I take the dog for a walk, I pay attention to everything along the way. The smells in the air. The way the wind makes my skin feel. The sounds all around me, even the faintest of sounds from afar, I pay attention. If you think about it, everything is one, everything has energy, everything comes from the same source (I mean, that is how I think about it anyway…), therefore by paying attention, you are connecting with the energy around you, and in doing so, connecting with your own energetic source at the same time. This is the best place to start, simply with awareness. 

How do you know if you are connected with consciousness?

Short answer, it feels like home. You feel good when you are connected. You feel whole. 

Some things in life you just know. And if you don’t feel that knowing, then it hasn’t happened yet. You will know. 

I’m going to circle back to this one a little more later. 

What about the times when I feel connected, and am feeling really good about myself and my life and my insides are all warm and fuzzy, and then my spouse and kids come home and make a lot of raucous and fight each other and fight for my attention and I lose complete focus over my connection? 

This happens to me all the time. My house is very loud and boisterous and I easily fall out of the zone, especially as an introvert. Or even, as I’m walking my dog and everything is feeling great, and then she spots another dog down the block and starts barking like mad. It can be hard to remain calm, keep the vibe, and not fall into irritability. I mean, the fact of the matter is, we’re human. This is humaning. All I can suggest is practice. Practice. Be aware of what’s happening. Practice some more. And also, accept that distractions will happen, that you will lose your focus, and that you’ll find it again. There’s no point in fighting against real life scenarios. Through acceptance, and through the art of practicing awareness, a deeper sense of calm can be achieved.

What about when I’m around someone that really grates on my nerves and rubs me the wrong way? Or when someone makes a comment that I find mean or insensitive or inconsiderate? How do I maintain my connection to consciousness in these moments?

Here again, the answer is awareness. This one is really tough, because often it requires you to admit something about yourself. It was a hard pill for me to swallow the day I understood that the people in my life that irritate me the most are actually there on purpose to teach me something about myself. In my life, pretty much every time someone rubs me the wrong way, it’s because I haven’t established strong personal boundaries. I’m allowing people to have their way or not standing up for myself or not responding to inappropriate comments in a self-respectful way. Every time, for me, it comes down to me having weak boundaries, and then being mad at others because of it. Projecting my feelings outwards. 

Once you realize this, then every time you are in your zen spot and begin to feel it slipping away because of the people around you, use it as a learning opportunity, a time to learn something about yourself. What is it within you that needs to be brought to awareness so that you can deal with it and be less affected by it the next time it comes around?

Consciousness expands when we remain with our discomforts, rather than run and hide from them. Consciousness expands when we admit to our traumas, in order to surrender them, when we admit to our coping mechanisms, in order to change them, when we recognize our discomforts, in order to follow our intuition and inner guidance. All of this requires awareness. 

So the next question, naturally, is how does one cultivate awareness? 

I am a fan of time. By this I mean, giving ourselves time. This is precisely my definition of self-care: giving ourselves the time we need to regenerate, to fill ourselves up, to recharge the batteries, to put a plug in the drain before our internal resources get depleted. We all need to give ourselves time. Once we give ourselves that time, and once we begin to feel reenergized, we naturally begin to feel more aware. We have the natural inclination to pay attention. It might be a random thought that you find interesting or curious, it might be a situation around you that you suddenly pay more attention to, but awareness becomes possible at this point. Therefore the first ingredient toward cultivating awareness is to practice self-care.

Awareness is not something we do with our thinking minds. It is paying attention from another dimension, almost from a place outside your body. You are observing life from the space around your body, observing while also being a part of all that is around you. Therefore, the second ingredient toward cultivating awareness is space: to expand beyond mind and body and to allow for whatever else might inhabit that same space.

As you are aware, things kind of just bubble up to the surface. You can ignore these things, at which point the bubble bursts, but the weight of the thing sinks back down – and it will wait to bubble up again at a later time – or you become aware of what has bubbled up, curious about it, and follow the bubble wherever it may lead you. Awareness wants to lead us toward consciousness. 

The third ingredient toward cultivating awareness is acceptance of what is. In our awareness, we might begin to experience discomfort. It’s counterintuitive but discomfort is a good thing. It’s a catalyst for positive change. Discomfort means there is something there, just below the surface, that wants our attention. When we are in a place in our lives when we feel safe enough to face these discomforts, we will make the choice to look at them, and see them for what they are, really see them, and that is when we will let them go. We won’t take this step until we feel safe – and this could take years for many people – but once we do, we will see that awareness was leading us toward consciousness, at the time when we are ready. 

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Circling back to what consciousness feels like, I wanted to really think about that in more detail.

On a day to day level, when you feel connected, life can suddenly feel simplified. Things that would previously have felt overwhelming might suddenly be easy. I typically always had a difficult time with making decisions, I would allow my mind to spiral and could never settle into a decision. However I find that the more I practice, the more a simple answer to my problems and questions will present itself.

You might become more in tune with “knowings”. Martha Beck uses the phrasing “what feels warm or cold” – these knowings don’t have to be deep, just subtle nudges in particular directions. When we move toward something warm we are calm, when we move toward something cold our insides send out warning signals. When we ignore the warning signals, that’s when we move away from authenticity.

In the practice of connecting with consciousness, you might, and indeed will, experience a greater sense of calm in your life. The more moments of calm you experience, the more moments of calm you want to bring in.

The more you practice, the more you trust that everything is as it should be, and the less you attempt to control everything.It in fact feels good to let go of control.

And another thing that I think we all receive, but that I don’t think everyone sees or believes in, are little signs and communications in our outer worlds that I consider little gifts from God. Often in my life they come in the form of dragonflies, a symbol of change. I remember this one time I was walking and in a real huff, my mind was spiralling into the dark places, and a huge dragonfly literally hit me in the chest and it brought me right out of my spiral. Recently, I was trying to get guidance on something very specific, and I asked if God could please show me a sign. I asked to show me something specific for one direction, and another very specific thing for the other direction. I did receive my signs. It happens all the time, and always at the perfect time. I trust in the signs.

But there are also big ways in which connection to consciousness comes into our lives. Really big, really surprising ways. And these are times when openness and curiosity are needed to maintain that connection. 

Here’s a story for you.. 

When I was in my 20s I received my reiki level 1 attunement. I felt really good, and I very excited about my new superpower. 

Sometimes I would be practicing on someone, and bits of information would come to me, and I just thought it was the coolest thing. Like, when my sister was expecting a baby, and I was practicing on her husband, the letter A bubbled forward, and indeed they planned to name their baby an A name. 

But this one time, I was lying in bed and practicing reiki on myself. I had my hands over my stomach and I suddenly heard this very audible crrrrraaaaccckk, followed immediately by an intense bright light coming into my body. It was truly the most amazing thing I have ever experienced. It was beautiful, and at the risk of sounding cheesy, it felt like the purest form of love. Afterward, I remember walking down the street and feeling like I was floating, like life was really this beautiful thing to be experienced. I felt very safe, and I felt very much a part of something larger than myself. I had experienced a direct connection with consciousness. It was a beautiful thing. 

But here’s the thing. This was my personal experience. As a young and inexperienced person, I wanted to bring this feeling to other people in my life. I wanted to share it. But in truth, I wanted to prove to them that this other dimension existed. I wanted to force awareness onto them. Basically, it became about my own ego. If consciousness is water, ego is oil. The two don’t mix. It didn’t take me long to realize that no amount of forcing my new found awareness onto other people in my life would get them to see what I could see. That is not how life works. Just like no amount of me sharing my experience here will turn a non believer into a believer. I learned enough from my previous experiences to leave ego out of it, all I can do is share.

A friend of mine experienced something similar, after I used reiki on his sore knee. He also was happily floating. But once the feeling wore off, his response was of fear. He feared what he didn’t understand. If awareness is water, fear is oil. The two cannot exist at the same time. Therefore I understand that some people, even when experiencing such intense beauty, might simply not be ready to consider consciousness on another level. And while ego does want to push through and say But, but, but I know something you don’t know… my awareness tells me, it’s all ok. Truly, we can all respect our individual paths. Everything is as it should be.

******

Ok. Here we are, at the end of this final episode. I’d like to bring it home with some final thoughts. 

We have talked about truth and authenticity. We have talked about letting go of stories and assumptions, of focusing only on what is reality, bringing peace to our lives by letting go of what isn’t true. We have talked about experiencing all our emotions, of not denying or running from what is uncomfortable, and how in facing all of our feelings, we can surrender, and bring a natural state of positivity to our lives. We have talked about how life cannot be forced if it is to be authentic, how our genuine self grows by accepting all of life’s experiences.

When you look at your life, does it look as though you have followed your consciousness all the way through, or does it look as though you have taken detours, and stepped away from consciousness? Do you ever veer back? Or have you stepped consistently away from what felt true and right? Whatever the answer, it’s ok. There is never a wrong time to step back toward consciousness. 

I became interested in exploring this topic of Truth because I recognized that I have stepped away from consciousness over and over and over again in my life, and I recognized that I needed to find a way to consistently bring myself back home. 

I know myself. I have always known myself. If you think about it, really think about it, you know yourself too. 

Yet, I have denied so many parts of myself over the years, by feeling like I needed to be someone else., needed to care about different things, needed to priortize different things. I gave away my power too many times, I wanted to make others happy at my own expense too many times. I walked toward fear too many times. All through these experiences, I knew myself. In the quiet moments, when no one else was around to judge me, when I was comfortable enough to be honest with myself, I knew myself. And I knew I was doing it wrong. 

Whether it’s for the approval of your family, the need to belong in your group of friends, the desire to impress at your job, there are a plethora of outside influences that continuously step between us and our true selves, between us and consciousness. If and when your connection to consciousness is strong, it’s easier to say no thank you, and to step around these obstacles, and continue on your path. When our connection with consciousness is weak, these obstacles feel insurmountable. 

I am still a student, but what I know for sure is that I have always known myself, and that the crux of who I am, the heart of what I desire out of this life, has never wavered. It is my mind that has wavered, my feelings in response to my mind, my actions in response to my feelings. But under that, under these external responses, consciousness has remained the same. And every time I connect with consciousness I am reminded: Ah… That’s who I am. That is me. I am happy to see you again. 

As I conclude this final episode, I invite you to go inward, to connect with consciousness, and to remember who you are. Who is the self within you that makes you happy every time you see them again? Who is the self within you that rings true? That has always been there? That has never wavered? Who is your inner self? This is the unsaid that I refer to in this podcast. In my life, and I truly hope in yours as well, it is time to say the unsaid. 

-mtg

Podcast: Always Say the Unsaid Episode 5, Toxic Positivity

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 5. You can listen to the episode on Spotify, or by clicking here.

Transcript to the Podcast:

Episode 5: Toxic Positivity

Hello. This is Always Say the Unsaid, This is episode 5 of a 6 part series on exploring truth and what it means to be truthful to ourselves, first and foremost. 

I’ve discussed various topics over the course of these past few episodes, and focused a lot on what truthfulness is. Today I want to talk about one thing that truthfulness is not: Positivity. I get a little heated on this subject, ironically, because it touches a nerve. And because it touches a nerve, I know it’s a relevant topic to discuss. 

I think that when it comes to the law of attraction and manifestation, etc, people generally believe they need to be positive about everything so as to not scare away the things they are trying to attract. Fine. Sure, Makes sense. But when that belief transitions over to a denial of reality, ignoring what actually is for the sake of “being positive,” this creates what is commonly known as toxic positivity. And make no mistake, toxic positivity is an obstacle standing between us and truth.

******

What happens when you deny yourself something that you want? It hardens and fixates and becomes even more ingrained: it gains mass. Whether you’re ignoring a craving for a bag of chips, or ignoring your feelings about a comment by a colleague that grates the wrong way, denying its existence only makes it a bigger thing than it originally was. The craving becomes bigger. The irritation intensifies. When you acknowledge the craving head on, it’s easier to let it go. When you acknowledge your feelings about the comment, the comment itself loses import, and the weight of the words will lighten. 

What I’m trying to say is this– if your house is on fire, you can ignore it and pretend it isn’t happening, but you will die if you do. If you open your eyes and acknowledge the reality of your situation, maybe you will lose a bunch of stuff in the process, maybe it will be painful, but you can get yourself out of the house and survive. 

Toxic positivity is to me a form of denial. It’s pretending things are not what they really are, pretending the house is not actually on fire. It’s ignoring reality, or trying to sugar coat the truth. Toxic positivity is equal to toxic negativity in that way– two opposing ends of a spectrum that bring the same result, a distortion of truth, a removal from authenticity. An illusion of a reality that is far from the truth. 

Inauthentic positivity will not bring you closer to Source, or increase your chances with the laws of attraction. In fact, the opposite will occur. 

And yet, so many people absolutely insist on blind positivity, to the point that they spread this belief into other people’s lives, and become incapable of sincere compassion around other people’s hurts. I find this so frustrating, because not only do they choose to deny themselves the benefit of being truthful about their own emotional landscape, but they also try to make other people do the same. We can’t all be ostriches with our heads in the sand…… this is simply not a healthy way to exist.

There are 2 examples that come to mind with toxic positivity in my life. 

One happened when I was a new mom. My first baby was my most difficult, and being a new mom I was very emotionally invested in trying to be perfect. But it was hard, and I was very honest about how hard it was. I was told to “just enjoy it”, that “they don’t stay young forever”, and “you’ll miss these days when they’re older”… all that stuff. I wasn’t experienced enough to tell the people saying this stuff to shove it. I was not experienced enough to know that I was allowed to have all these feelings. I thought maybe I was doing it wrong, that I wasn’t a good enough mom. People were demanding that I be positive, rather than realistic about what I was feeling, and it made me feel worse… telling me to be positive had the opposing effect on me emotionally. It’s because of this experience that I became a huge promoter of self-care for mothers, because I recognized too late how much I needed to be in charge of my own self-care.

In another circumstance, I was experiencing some difficulties in the workplace that were beyond your average workplace frustrations. Sexism was one. Having a supervisor that crossed a line on all the -isms, that was a big issue. Being witness to ethical violations, these issues were fairly major to me. However the company culture encouraged this toxic positivity. Anytime I tried to speak openly about any of these issues, I wasn’t heard, and instead the reaction made me feel like I was complaining. And even when each individual issue was brought to a head, to the point when it could no longer be swept under the rug, I was still not able to discuss them. I was told to just move on as though these issues never existed to begin with.

I admit that at the point in my life where these experiences occurred, it was easy for me to feel like a victim and lean toward the negative. I hadn’t quite learned that I was responsible for my own feelings, that no one could make me feel a certain way without my permission. Had these circumstances happened now, maybe things would be different. But I found myself in situations where all I needed was an ear to hear me speak my reality, and what I received in return was deafness. So many people have this same experience, and the end result is greater hurt. A denial of the human experience. Disconnection and suffering. 

Toxic positivity is hurtful, disrespectful, and also, avoidable. The anti-dote is simply awareness.

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There are two main points that I would like to make when it comes to Positivity, in and of itself. 

First, and please hear me on this, a person can be both grateful for what they have, and have feelings about that thing at the same time. A mom can love her kids to bits and pieces, and still hide in a closet and cry over how hard parenting can be. A person can have a conflict at work, and still love their job and be grateful for their employment. I can love my life and be so grateful each and every day for my blessings, and still have moments where I just need to say Fuuuuuuuuucccckkkkk, and have someone give me an ear or a shoulder to lean on. This is all a part of the experience of being human, and these two things, gratitude and humanness, are not mutually exclusive. Sometimes we just have a bad day. It doesn’t mean we hate life.

Second, and this is also very important, positivity is actually what we want to aspire to. Positivity is actually a better place from which to live our lives. It’s healthier, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. But it needs to be natural, it needs to be authentic. The best way to achieve natural, authentic positivity is to accept and acknowledge what is real in our lives. To avoid denial. To actually deal with our shit. When we look feelings in the face, actually see them head on, then we can also acknowledge where they come from, and we can more readily let them go, and this is the birthplace of natural positivity. Why? Because this is us acknowledging our most truthful selves. 

And there it is, ladies and gentlemen, the purpose of this podcast in a nutshell.

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Next time I would like to talk about consciousness, which is my new favourite word. It will possibly be my most woo-woo podcast yet, and, also, the most true to myself podcast yet. I will be exercising courage, and digging deep from within. And perhaps, for the first time, voicing the true unsaid within me that I keep carefully guarded. I do believe that the inner voice is always the first to say the unsaid. 

Until next time. 

Podcast: Always Say the Unsaid Episode 4, Courage

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 3. You can listen to the episode on Spotify, or by clicking here.

Transcript to the Podcast:

Episode 4: Courage

Hello! Welcome back to Always Say the Unsaid. My name is Maria, and this is a podcast about exploring the topic of truth and authenticity, particularly when it comes to being true to one’s self. 

I took a small break from the last episode because this topic that I intend to speak about today, the subject of courage, is just so big. And intimidating, and huge and I feel a little imposter syndrome just sitting here thinking about talking about it… Honestly, it gives me a little anxiety. But, if I’m going to talk about courage, I need to actually demonstrate courage to myself, and go ahead and communicate the things that I feel are important to communicate. As in, to say the unsaid….

So let’s begin. 

This may already be obvious, but courage is important to, and in fact necessary for, the process of becoming wholly authentic. Without courage we cannot ever freely be ourselves. Being freely ourselves is a freaking scary thing sometimes…. or even most times…. and it requires courage to set those fears aside in order to be nakedly, truthfully who we are meant to be. 

I do seriously feel like I should admonish myself for even talking about this, because I know there are so many instances in my life, probably even the majority of my life, when I have not been courageously me; when I have hidden my true self because I thought it would make someone else happy or more at ease. It’s even happened just this very week.

But if acknowledgement is half the battle, I can at least be courageous enough to admit that this is one area where I falter, and acknowledge it as a weakness… and with a positive outlook, look forward to the courageous changes that are to come. 

Courage is not the same as strength, I want to make that clear. You can be plenty strong… you can hit your lowest lows, and pull yourself together and lift yourself up out of the depths, all of which requires a great deal of strength and courage, and at the end of the day still not make space for your most authentic self to shine through. Courage is not the same as fortitude, either. 

Also, courage is not just telling it like you see it no matter what the situation and who you are with. Some people might think that’s courage….. like when you think you’ve been charged a wrong price at the grocery store and you demand attention to the matter, then feel proud of yourself for not just staying quiet and walking away…. but that’s not courage. I think that might border more on indignation or righteousness. Or another one, like standing up to your boss who wants you to come into work when you’re trying to call in sick…. that one might be bravery, but I don’t think bravery and courage are exactly the same thing.

I feel like courage is actually more akin to vulnerability, and to the process of allowing yourself to stop fighting, to allowing yourself to stop pushing and forcing. I think it takes courage to find stillness, and to just be. And then courage to bring that stillness forward into our outer worlds. 

Bravery, in my mind, is often spontaneous– it operates off instinct. Courage, on the other hand, involves thought and acknowledgement. 

Brene Brown says that courage means showing up and letting yourself be seen, despite the risk. When you show up in this way, you open yourself up to joy and connection, but you can only do it by accepting that there could be pain.

I think I realized from a very young age that I was “weird.” I didn’t think the way other people thought, I didn’t process life in the same way. My ideas about God were always different, my need for quiet, the way I observed people… I never felt like I belonged, necessarily. I always considered myself a bit of a black sheep. And as a kid, it was hard for me. Hard for me to accept my differences… all kids just want a sense of belonging. And I internalized those feelings, and I became a bit of a people pleaser. I just wanted to feel like everybody else. 

As an adult I have been on a very long journey toward turning that around. I recognize that none of that served me well, that people pleasing simply makes me feel badly about myself, less attuned to myself, that I like the person I am on the inside, in the quiet moments when I’m alone and most freely me, and that I am most comfortable in my own skin when I get to be me. The more I tear down all the walls I built up as a child, the more I like the person I find behind them. Also, the more I bring this person forward in the world, the happier I am. I noticed that I feel anger and passive-aggressiveness around people whom I am not comfortable being fully myself around. I feel angry at them because I am not being fully me, with all my crazy and wild and opinions and all of it.

But here’s the thing, no one can make us feel anything without our permission. So those people I was mad at… I had no business being mad at them. I chose to behave differently around them. Byron Katie says, there’s your business, other people’s business, and God’s business, and that we have no business being in other people’s business or God’s business. What that means is, if other people have a judgment of me when I’m being my true self, that’s their business. And it is not any of my business. If you are listening to this right now and thinking it’s a god-awful terrible podcast, that’s your business. You have that right. It’s none of my business what you think of it. What is my business is making the best attempt at a podcast as I can in this moment…. and maybe down the road I’ll know better, and I’ll do better… but for now, the most courageous thing I can do is be my absolute most true self while recording this, and hope that it’s enough to get my message across. 

When you acknowledge this, when you fully integrate this question of Whose-business-is-it-anyway?, it really frees you up to be courageous. And it stops mattering what other people think of you. So I can do something like write this podcast, because I doubt anyone listens to it anyway, and it’s just me and a microphone, and if someone out there is listening and has a judgment of me, in this moment, I truly do acknowledge that it’s ok, you’re allowed that judgment, and I’m just gonna be myself anyway. 

But what about when we’re around our people? What happens when we’re around that boss that intimidates us? Or that in-law that always has a comment or two, or the friend of a friend that is so loud and outspoken in her opinions that you’re afraid to say anything that might differ lest it spark a debate, or even your own spouse who doesn’t agree with your woo-woo beliefs and who you avoid such conversations with, or around your own mother who brings out the worst in you, or maybe it’s your father that does…. there’s always at least one person in your life that can make your voice catch in your throat….. What then? How do you bring forth your courage then? How can you break the cycle of hiding yourself and allow yourself to be freely you? 

This is a very good question. 

The answer is, more of the same. 

  1. Acknowledge your feelings to yourself. 
  2. Acknowledge where they come from, where they are rooted. 
  3. Let go of blame. And avoid playing the victim. 
  4. Understand that no one can make you feel a certain way without your permission. And that other people’s feelings and opinions are none of your business

And with all of that established, just be yourself. One moment at a time. 

I kind of liken it to a domino effect. Maybe one day you will have a moment of courageous truth in front of your brother, but then hide again, like a turtle in a shell, in front of your mother. Maybe a week later you will have a moment of courage in front of your mother, but then the courage leaves you when with your father-in-law. It’s ok. It’s all ok. Everything in steps and stages. I’m a big fan of baby steps… or one degree turns, as Martha Beck would call them. But the more courage is practiced in private, the more it can be practiced in public. The more it is practiced in public, the more it can be ingrained as a new way of being. 

I have been practicing lately.

I have not always been succeeding. I’ve had moments where I have voiced my opinion on something, and been told by another person that they didn’t agree, and I did not handle it well internally, because I felt like I had done something wrong by having a differing opinion, or like I made a mistake in my opinion just because it was different. I lacked courage. I have also had moments where I have known within myself what way I wanted a particular situation to go, what was best for me, but where I allowed what was best for others to dominate the scenario. These moments leave me feeling regretful, and even resentful, over having not established personal boundaries when needed.

But I continue to practice. And as I practice I get stronger… the pit in my stomach where the wishy washy used to live is becoming sturdy and centered and knowledgeable… a true foundation for who I am, where the truth of me can more easily rise with confidence. 

Listen, it might not be a sexy answer. It might not be what you want to hear. It might be work. But this is what it is. Practice. And know that you are worth the effort. 

Next time I would like to talk about positivity vs toxic positivity. It’s a complicated subject, and often misunderstood, for something that is meant to be quite simple. Yet, knowing the  difference goes a long way toward knowing the difference between authenticity and inauthenticity. I think it’s important.

Until next time, remember to always listen to your inner voice, because the inner voice is always the first to say the unsaid. 

How Some Ancient Wisdom on Feelings is Helping Me Now

This might sound crazy but I only recently discovered, as a forty-something woman, that it’s better to recognize, pay attention to, and acknowledge the feelings within you, rather than hide from them or try to outrun them. I probably already knew this in theory, but I certainly didn’t know this in practice. 

It’s funny to me, because I’m a mom, and always naming feelings for my kids so they can have a feeling vocabulary. It’s funny, because I studied psychology in university, then art therapy, where I learned to understand the power and necessity of emotion-speak for personal betterment. I fully believed this for other people. I just didn’t apply it to myself. 

I first came across this idea as a developed concept while reading a book by David R. Hawkins. Paraphrasing, Hawkins says that when something bubbles up to the surface, look at it rather than push it back down, ask it questions, be inquisitive about it–stick with it, until it dissolves on its own. Ever since learning this concept or technique, it is suddenly everywhere I look. I started seeing it written out while scrolling inspirational messages on Instagram. In a podcast interview between Elizabeth Gilbert and Brené Brown (recorded in 2015 but only listened to for the first time last week), Brown quoted, “Hold your shadow in front of you. It can only take you down from behind.” I later heard author and life coach Martha Beck doing a podcast on the same topic. She linked it back to the Buddha and ancient Chinese teachings. And I could be wrong, but if it’s ancient, it must be worth paying attention to. 

So I have experimented, and I have tried (and am trying) to apply this technique in my own life. To illustrate, here’s an example.

As a writer and generally artsy character, one of my biggest weaknesses is the vulnerability I feel when I put myself and my work out there in the world. It’s easy for my confidence to falter when my work is made public. I had one of these moments recently, one of these I-don’t-know-what-I’m-doing-and-I-totally-suck moments. Normally, I feel a well of dark emotion open up within me, and then I get stubborn, then force myself to think positively, and finally I push the negative feelings away. This is what we’re supposed to do, right? Except, this tactic hasn’t been working for me. I don’t know if it ever works for anyone.

Stubbornness can take us places, but not in a fight against ourselves. False positivity can take us places, but not when it stops us from recognizing truth. Pushing away negative self talk can be a good thing, but only once you’ve dealt with the underlying thoughts causing it to begin with. See what I mean? Any mechanism I use to get me through is only a short-term fix to a long-term problem. Unless, that is, I make the choice to go down the rabbit hole and shake hands with whatever is down there waiting for me. 

For this particular vulnerability of mine, what was down there waiting for me was the feeling that I have to prove myself. Once I saw that, and I mean really saw it, it was easier to also see the futility in it; the ridiculousness of it. I don’t have to prove anything to anyone, least of all myself. My only responsibility to myself is to keep making art, if art is what inspires me.

I don’t write this as someone who has cured myself, but as someone who has, at least, found a really powerful tonic. 

Back when I was an art therapy student in university, I had an idea for a picture book to assist me when working with kids. It used colours to help talk about feelings, a way of easily labeling whatever was bubbling up inside. I wrote a story called Wonderful, Colourful, Magnificent, about a little girl whose confidence over a painting she made was wavering when faced with the opinions of others (I don’t know where I got this idea, it just came to me…entirely random…). I never did anything with that story, though. At least, until now. Almost twenty years later, learning all this stuff I’m learning from really smart people, it hit me that it was finally time to turn this story into reality. I figured, the sooner in life we learn to acknowledge the existence of our feelings, and in the moment we have them, the sooner we can legitimately release the bad ones–no pushing, no running, no forcing involved. This is my small way of giving back to the lesson at hand.

In her book Atlas of the Heart, Brené Brown writes, “When we name an emotion or experience, it doesn’t give that emotion or experience more power, it gives us more power.” Using my example above, by choosing to look the need-to-prove-something feeling in the eye (rather than close my eyes, stick my fingers in my ears and sing lalalalalalalalala), it then decided to put on it’s cap, grab it’s walking stick and calmly stroll away. It was waiting for me to do that all along. Lord knows, so was I.

Podcast: Always Say the Unsaid Episode 3, Assumptions

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:

Episode 3: You Know What They Say About Assumptions

Welcome to Always Say the Unsaid, my name is Maria. This is a podcast that aims to explore truth in a very personal way, because I believe that we can’t lead meaningful lives if we aren’t living from a place of truth. This podcast is also a challenge to me personally to walk the talk, and to put into practice the art of living truthfully. 

Today I want to talk about assumptions, which is probably a weird topic when paired with the subject of truth, but I think it’s relevant. I’ll tell you why. 

I had this moment a few months ago when I found myself walking in circles around a mall, absolutely fuming and definitely not enjoying myself. I couldn’t find what I needed which was irritating me even more. And the entire time I was blaming it on my poor husband. Why? Because I was shopping for a dress for our daughter’s music recital at the last minute, because I didn’t know about it in advance. Because I felt he should have told me about the dress code for the recital. 

And when I backtracked over the entire situation – first, he told me about a recital, I assumed it was on zoom, 2nd he told me it would be I’ve in person, I assumed it would be a small affair at the instructor’s home, 3rd he told me it would be a bigger to-do at a church, I assumed any old outfit would do – I suddenly realized that the common thread stringing everything together was my assumptions over the entire situation. I never asked any questions, I only ever assumed. And it was my assumptions, not my husband’s lack of forthright communication, that led to me roaming the mall in a huff. 

I realized that I needed to take responsibility for my own thoughts, rather than pass the buck. 

And I realized that this is what assumptions are… it’s us setting ourselves up to be wrong, and then passing the blame onto someone else when we are. 

Assumptions are a bit of a mind fuck, and they keep us from being honest, and from viewing the world with honesty. This is why I felt like this was an important topic to discuss over this podcast, because obviously, if it keeps us from being honest, it’s keeping us from the ultimate truth. 

Let’s be more specific. What are the things we often assume that keep us removed from honesty? Off the top of my head, these are some examples:

-that someone is mad at us, maybe because they haven’t responded to a text fast enough

-that we’ve offended someone

-that a person or people don’t like us

-that they think we didn’t do a good job on a project because they didn’t immediately shower us with praise 

-that a person giving us a look is judging us, when maybe they\re just lost in their thoughts and happen to be looking our way

-that we’re going to get into a lot of trouble over something we did…

This last example happened in my home yesterday. My daughter did something she shouldn’t have done, not on purpose, she was goofing off as kids do, but not really thinking about what she was doing. In the process, someone got a little hurt. And my daughter, who hates getting in trouble, went straight into worst case scenario, and assumed all the worst things that could possibly happen to her at school, all the worst consequences… and given that the other child that got a little hurt was our son, her brother, we knew none of any of that was actually going to come true. 

But anyway, back to the list, the constant there is that they are all negative. When we make assumptions, more often than not they are about bad things… they play to the negative tapes in our heads. We don’t assume, wow, that person really loves me… I mean that could happen, but it isn’t the norm. 

And when I think to the moments in my recent life where I felt pain, stress, anxiety, frustration, or sadness, I think that most of those instances, causing all of those feelings, can be linked back to assumptions made in my mind. Fabricated stories I told myself, without bothering to verify the details. And that’s on me. I can’t blame anyone else for those feelings, I need to take responsibility there. 

I mentioned Byron Katie in the last episode, and I would like to go into her work in more detail here, because it fits perfectly with this notion of causing ourselves pain based on stories we tell ourselves, and stories we choose to listen to. 

Byron Katie developed something called The Work, which is a series of 4 questions to be applied to our thoughts, and a final turnaround at the end. The intention of the questions is to show us, if we are ready and open to the truth, how our thoughts are not the same as our reality. Katie says that she is a lover of reality, because in reality there is no pain.

The work is simply this: Judge your thought, write it down, ask 4 questions, turn it around. That’s it. It’s so simple, and if you read Katie’s book A Return to Love, you will see how simple it really is. Yet, for me, I think this is the single most powerful book that I have read this year. 

I’ll use the example above to show you how it works.

So, take something that causes me frustration and write it down. My statement might be, My husband never tells me the information I need to know to get things done on time for our family. 

Then I ask the 4 questions. Question 1, is it true? Well, I’ve already determined on this one that it isn’t true, it was all a figment of my assumptions, so I can safely say no, this statement or judgement that I often repeat to myself is actually not true. 

Question 2, can I absolutely know it is true? Well, I’ve already determined it isn’t. 

Question 3, how does this thought make me feel? It makes me feel stressed out, frustrated, out of control, and like I need to rush.

Question 4, how would I feel without this thought? I would feel calmer, more at ease, like I didn’t need to worry about time, generally more relaxed… and I can feel that, as I’m saying this, I can feel it in my belly. 

And now, the turnaround. This can be a 180 degree change, for example, My husband always tells me the information I need to know to get things done on time for our family. If that one doesn’t feel 100% authentic, then I can always try another. For example, I always tell my husband what information I need to know. This one makes me feel more uncomfortable, but I actually think it\s more accurate. Because by not asking questions for more details, he’s only giving me the basic info he thinks I want or need. 

The point here is to recognize that it’s our thoughts that cause us pain, and when we analyse them, at the end of the day, we can save ourselves from this pain by focusing on the reality, the truth of the situation. 

And when you’re not bogging your mind down with all these false stories, assumptions and judgments, you’re leaving yourself free to hear more of the true voice that’s within you, the voice of your own consciousness. Without distraction, your own voice becomes more clear. 

I’m going to be honest, doing The Work is work. You have to do it continuously, consistently, if you want to notice a difference, and if you are truly seeking peace in your own mind. It’s exercising a lesser used muscle, it won’t come easily to you at first. It will feel like a struggle, tedious, difficult. But then maybe one day, you’re looking at your kid who is refusing to brush his teeth, and seeing beyond the fact that he’s not listening to you, and all the ego and control stuff that normally goes along with that fact. Maybe one day, when you would normally be immediately irritated as soon as a coworker opens  their mouth, this time you just feel calm. And maybe one day, despite your tumultuous relationship with your mother, you end up feeling compassion. 

And the next day you might go back to judging, and you have to start all over again. But it gets easier, each time you practice, it gets easier. I haven\t even been doing it for that long, but I can see it already. 

Circling back to assumptions, try the work the next time you catch yourself assuming you know what’s going on with someone else. For example, The next time you assume that someone is mad at you, but you haven’t asked them about it, ask yourself, is it true? If you haven’t asked and they haven’t told you, then the only answer can be no, because you cannot absolutely know it to be true. Immediately you’ll be relieved of the stress over feeling someone is mad at you. Go through the remaining questions, then the turnaround. So and so is NOT mad at me. That is the truth.

Gawd, it’s just so simple……… who knew it could be so simple….

Again, what I love about this is that my mind, my energy, is freed from the chains of all the false stories, and what a difference that makes in this journey toward inner truth. 

On the next episode, I’d like to discuss courage. Although the inner voice is always the first to say the unsaid, it takes a great deal of courage to actually pay attention. See you next time.

A Poem for the Women, International Women’s Day

Women, stand together
Women, stand united
Mothers, hold your children
Grandmothers, your daughters

Women, come together
Without us this won’t work
Parents, show your children
Integrity at work

Sister, I am with you
Sisters, stand together
Brothers, be here with us
But only if you stand beside us

Women, the life makers
Women, the fierce teachers
Women, the heart menders
Women, the truth seekers

Women, keep on seeking
Women, keep exploring
Chisel at the walls
Scrape by scrape undo the ceiling

Sister understand
That I am here to help you
Threaded through our hands
Pull this cord that unites us

Sister, you’re here with me
Sisters, stand together
Brothers, come here with us
But we won’t allow you to divide us

Daughters, feel our fire
For it must keep on burning
From the gates we march
With a knowledge and a yearning

Daughters, when you see us
Keep your eyes wide open
Take your brothers by the hand
Together we will lead us

Women, stand together
Sisters, I am with you
Daughters, let us teach you
That this cord must unite us

Grandmothers, hold your daughters
Mothers, your children
Stand toe to toe as sisters
Our secret is unfolding

Love is what is needed
Sister, lead the way
Sister, I’m beside you
I will not be swayed

Podcast: Always Say the Unsaid Episode 2

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? 

c

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.

Always Say the Unsaid

When I was 25 I had one of those skeleton-in-the-family-closet events (that you only see happen in soap operas or read about in books) happen to me and my life. It was, to use the standard metaphor, earth-shattering. Afterward, I had a hard time dealing with untruths or inauthenticities. I literally spouted every detail of my life from my mouth like a waterfall of diarrhea because I simply could not handle anything that did not fully resemble the truth. I created a motto for myself that I grasped onto with steeled hands: Always say the unsaid.

Over time, though, I came to understand that not all people want to hear the truth. Some people think too much truth is simply too much. Some people think truth means a lack of gratitude. Some people change the subject when truth comes out, or their eyes turn glassy, or they pour another drink. Some people literally prefer to numb themselves over hearing the truth. 

Even when the truth was not about them. Even when the truth I was sharing was purely my own, the truth was just not what people wanted. It was kind of like Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson but in reverse: I want to give you the truth! I can’t handle the truth!

And I was young, and I definitely lacked confidence. I strongly believed in the truth, however I lacked the inner strength to share my truth with conviction. I was afraid – not of the truth, but of people. Of their opinions. Afraid that telling the truth would mean losing love, respect, goodwill, etc. My interest in telling the truth never went away, but rather than an externalized waterfall of diarrhea, I swallowed truths like candy, filling myself up with them until they started to hurt.

Over time, however, this acted like a poison. Keeping truth in only leads to a build up of resentment, and I found myself demonstrating passive-aggressiveness in the face of anyone whom I deemed a barrier between me and my ability to speak freely about truth. You could say that I felt victimized – whiny, even – “just because other people can’t handle the truth.” 

But then I turned 40, and there’s a certain secret magic that occurs when a woman turns 40, when the layers melt away, and all she’s left with is herself. Layer one, the realization that I am not a victim. Layer two, awareness of my own behaviour, acknowledging that passive-aggressiveness is just another manifestation of inauthenticity. Layer three, the deep inner knowledge that no one can make me feel a certain way without my permission, that no one can “make me” behave inauthentically or hide my truth without my complicity. Layer four, removing expectations.

One after another– layer, layer – until I began to feel more nakedly me, speaking truth and fully okay with it. I’ve learned recently that this level of truth is referred to as integrity – being whole, being complete and without any cracks. This word has now become my talisman: my reminder to think before I speak, to not keep secrets from myself; my cue to apologize when I’ve split from myself, my inspiration to go within first, a symbol for seeking truth. I wear integrity like a ring on my finger and it tells me, This, this is the right decision, this is what is best. 

This talisman speaks the language of bumper stickers:The truth is out there. The truth shall set you free. Truth is an inside job. The truth be with you, always. Always. Say the unsaid.

-mtg

Podcast: Always Say the Unsaid Episode 1

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 1. You can listen to the episode on Spotify, or by clicking here.

Transcript to the Podcast:

Hello! This is Always Say the Unsaid.

This is episode 1 of what I imagine to be a 6 part series on truth and truth-seeking. 

My name is Maria and I… have never made a podcast before, so this will be a new venture into something incredibly unknown to me. Truth: I really only began listening to podcasts about 4 months ago if you can believe it. But now, I can’t imagine why it took me so long. I love podcasts.

There’s nothing specific that qualifies me to make a podcast, and on this subject particularly. I’m just an average woman living a typically average life. Married with kids, a homeowner trying to pay off the dang mortgage, hoping to live a life with meaning while still making sure to pay the bills. I could be any person, on any given day. 

But I decided to create this podcast anyway, and for a number of reasons.

For one, I was curious. I wondered, can I? Can someone who is relatively a no one just go ahead and make a podcast? Second, and more importantly, accountability. I am an introvert, and not at all comfortable with the spoken word. I generally dislike talking and avoid it as much as is humanly possible (while still trying to function in society). I needed to choose a medium that was outside of my comfort zone to hold myself accountable to my goal for this new year, and for life in general: Tell the truth. Be honest. Always speak from a place of truth. Never hold in what should be spoken out. Always say the unsaid. 

So this will be a podcast that delves into and explores the many facets of truth-telling, and what it means to be truthful: why it’s important, what it means to me and what it could potentially mean to you. 

And given that, I think, the only natural place to begin is to ask the question, What is truth? 

I don’t know if this story will resonate but, a few years ago my husband and I were looking to purchase a cottage. I wasn’t sure whether we actually should – financially, practically – but my heart wanted and still wants a cabin in the woods. For better or for worse, we decided to aim for the dream. We went full throttle, but the entire time I was asking myself whether or not we were doing the right thing. I kept going, though, choosing to keep my eye on that dream. Long story short, we put an offer on a place that was set to be ours, but at the last possible minute, the deal fell through. I got a phone call from the realtor to let me know, and when I hung up the phone, my entire body experienced a sigh of relief. The entire time I had been operating from my mind, logically telling myself that I should go after my dream. But at the end of the day, my insides kicked in and let me know that this was not the right time, and that there was nothing to regret; that the outcome had been exactly as it should have been. The truth had kicked in. 

Whether you believe in God or universe or spirit or source or fill-in-the-blank, you may know the feeling. I call it God, in a non-religious sense. This is the way God talks with me. It happened to me with an old boyfriend, at a tipping point between staying in the relationship or moving on. The truth told me what I needed to do. It happened to me when we purchased our current home. After looking at probably hundreds of houses online, when I pulled up the realtor listing for our home, the truth said, this is the right one for you right now. It happened to me before conceiving our third child, too.

Truth is the deepest part of ourselves. Truth is where our integrity resides. Truth is the thing within us that – although it can be easily ignored, will never go away. Every time we do ignore our truth – something that can go on for years, or even our entire lives – we hurt ourselves on mental, physical, spiritual and emotional levels. Breaking from the truth prevents us from living our best lives. 

It’s like in the movies, you know? It’s like Nicolas Cage inThe Family Man or Will Smith in The Pursuit of Happyness or Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire or the animated film Inside Out. How many times has Hollywood tried to tell us, ironically through the practice of make believe, that the truth will set you free. The truth will set you free. The truth will set you free. 

Take a moment and think about truth in your own life, to one of your moments when you felt the truth spring up within you, to how you felt in that moment, to know it was the truth, without a doubt, unequivocally… 

And now compare that to another moment where you were ignoring the truth. We all have those, too. Moments where we actually knew within ourselves that we are stepping away from our integrity.

As an introvert, and as someone who was raised to be a people pleaser – to think about what other people will think and say, their judgments and their opinions; to care about outward appearances – and as a wallflower who never understood what to do whenever the attention was on me, I have repeatedly in my life stepped away from my truth. 

This is a common example: Often, when I’m presented with a question that requires me to make a choice between at least two possible options, I will freeze. I freeze because I get stuck between making a choice that is better for MOST people, and making a choice that is better for ME. The choices just end up rolling around in my head, over and over and over again. Eventually anxiety over not having made a choice will seep in, which causes the rolling in my mind to pick up speed. So rather than making a decision, I allow the choices to turn my mind into a whirlpool of confusion. I get myself really stressed out over things that, ultimately, are pretty banal. 

And often, when I finally do make a choice, I’ll choose the answer that will make the most people happy, at the expense of my own happiness. This can happen with small decisions, like what food I want to eat, and it can happen with big decisions, like taking on a big project at work that I know does not match my skill set. 

In hindsight, I always look back at these situations and know that I have ignored my truth. Being unhappy with the decisions I fall on, the stress and anxiety, all happen because I stepped away from truth. 

So, all this to answer the question: What is truth? 

Truth, then, is that place inside ourselves that is the best of us. The real us. The us that we were born to be and intended to be. Truth is your source. Truth is the God within you. Truth is your integrity – wholeness, before our choices chip away the pieces. Truth is what you can always come back to. Truth is what will always remain. Truth is the basis for all of it – all of this – all of everything. 

Truth is what I strive for, as a 40-something woman who is doing away with the bullshit of life and no longer interested in what other people think or say about me. Truth is the light in the distance that I keep my eye on, like in driver’s ed where they tell you to look far ahead in the distance as everything else falls away. 

That is truth for me. 

But adhering to my truth, that is my challenge.

So tell me, what is truth for you? I’m curious. If you have a personal definition of truth I would love to know.

That’s all for this episode, but for next time: Defining the ins and outs of being true to yourself. Because the inner voice is the first to always say the unsaid. 

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