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Speaking Up, Speaking Out

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The importance of speaking your truth.

The recent testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford; the grand jury report on the Pennsylvania Catholic Church; the sentencing of Bill Cosby. They are all powerful reminders of how silence and shame can strip people of their dignity for decades. Hopefully we are entering a new era where someone who comes forward to speak their truth is welcomed and supported. For this week’s Healthy Habit, we look at ways to commit to a practice of speaking up.  

Rewrite Old Scripts

“We don’t come out of the womb afraid to speak up for ourselves,” wrote Kathy Caprino, on Forbes. “It’s a learned behavior.” Think back, then, about who in your life has suggested to you that you can’t speak up. What moments were pivotal in that message? Can you go back and replay these internal “head movies,” examining them and rewriting the script in a more empowering way? What would you now tell your 7-year-old, 12-year-old or 16-year-old self, for example?

Rehearse

The program Teaching Tolerance reports that you know a moment will come up when you need to speak up—whether it’s on racism, sexism, homophobia, sexual assault, etc., so rehearse what you would say. Be prepared to speak, and, “Summon your courage, whatever it takes to get that courage, wherever that source of courage is for you,” suggested Dr. Marsha Houston, chair of the Communication Studies Department at the University of Alabama, for the program.

Do it Daily

We are often scared to speak honestly in our day-to-day communication, yet this type of conversation is the perfect place to start. New research out of the University of Chicago found that people tend to overestimate the risks of having an honest conversation. For the purposes of that study, honesty was defined that as “speaking in accordance with one’s own beliefs, thoughts and feelings.” Based on their findings, the researchers wrote, “By avoiding honesty, individuals miss out on opportunities that they appreciate in the long-run.” So, revealing a secret or giving honest feedback is often safer than you might think, at least, according to this research. Small daily interactions are a good way to practice being who we really are.


Kathryn Drury Wagner

Kathryn Drury Wagner is a writer and editor based in Savannah. She is the author of Hawaii’s Strangest, Ickiest, Wildest Book Ever!.


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