When you need to set a boundary, set a limit, or say no to someone, do you labor over the words to use and still end up feeling like it came out all wrong?
Have you ever waited too long to tell someone you have an issue or a problem with them and by the time it does come out…you explode or break down crying?
Do you avoid asking for what you want or prioritizing your preferences or speaking up because you don’t know what to say or you just don’t want any drama?
If this is resonating, then this week’s episode is for you. I’m sharing the most common reasons you might struggle to “talk true” plus, giving you language to speak up more easily and express yourself authentically!
The struggle to communicate truthfully is common. Talking true can feel hard, but it doesn’t have to be. Effective, clear communication is a skill and like any skill, the more you practice, the easier it becomes.
Speaking truthfully is the only way to create the life you want and deserve. When we are talking true, we assert our real feelings, share our actual thoughts, negotiate for our needs and prioritize our preferences.
Your preferences, desires, and limits are all things that make you, uniquely YOU! And yet, many of us were taught to hide, deny or keep these beautiful nuances to ourselves.
To understand why it can be difficult to talk true, we need to go back in time a bit and think about the way you were raised, the home that you grew up in, and how your paternal/maternal impactors related to honest communication.
Many of us had the experience of being encouraged to be truthful as long as it was positive. Anybody else? Growing up we all received overt and covert messaging about what kind of behavior was and wasn’t acceptable. For example, you may have heard phrases like, “Turn that frown upside down” and “Where’s my happy girl?” or, that old standby, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”.
Growing up, I received the covert message that being angry, complaining, or having a problem wasn’t as acceptable as being a good girl, being nice, and being positive (no matter how I really felt.)
Truth-telling is the ability to know and express our authentic selves. Were you raised to know who you are and what you want? If you grew up in a family with limiting beliefs around certain identities, gender roles, career paths, etc., you might have gotten the overt or covert encouragement to repress your truth, especially if it fell outside of your family of origin’s belief system.
This again teaches us not to talk true because of potential rejection or ridicule. We are all influenced heavily by the modeled behavior we saw growing up and by how the adults in our lives interacted with us around our truth, but the good news is, change is possible.
Take some time to think through any covert or overt messaging you received around communicating your full range of feelings and thoughts inside your family system of origin.
Here are some questions to help you begin to connect the dots from your past to your current struggles with talking true:
Was honesty valued in your family home? There can be a duality here, so be willing to take a close look. In my family home, values included being a good citizen, a good person, not cheating, and not taking something that isn’t yours.
Acting truthfully was valued but speaking truthfully about our feelings (particularly if they were messy) was not.
Let me be clear: this isn’t about blaming your parents. If your folks are anything like mine, they might not have the skills to talk true themselves. How could they teach us to do it when they didn’t know how to do it?
Were your parents honest about their feelings? Did they talk about their feelings?
In my family system, feelings of frustration or anger weren’t talked about, but they certainly were acted out.
Here’s the thing about feelings: they don’t just go away because they are inconvenient or we fear someone else won’t like them. They don’t go away when we ignore or repress them.
Unexpressed feelings go underground. If you’re constantly shoving your feelings down, it can become very confusing to figure out how you really feel. The energy of those unexpressed feelings still informs and impacts your behavior, no matter how deep you try to bury them. If you feel frustrated about not being seen, not speaking up about it doesn’t make that frustration go away. It only exacerbates it.
Did you grow up in a family of people-pleasers?
There are a lot of ways to justify being dishonest, like the little white lie you tell your boss or a family member to get out of something. If you grew up in a family that would rather make up a fake excuse than offend someone, take note. Are there times you bend the truth to get out of a jam or because you think it will make someone else feel better?
Part of talking true is being in honest integrity with yourself, with others, and keeping your word. It matters because it is a healthy thing to do. It also matters because talking true in our relationships is how people know the real us.
Was speaking truthfully encouraged or discouraged in your home growing up, especially if your opinion differed from the majority?
Looking back on your experiences in your family of origin, was it OK for you to disagree even if everyone else agreed on something? Did you feel accepted and safe to voice your thoughts and feelings OR did you just go along to get along?
If you knew there was a lot of drama or repercussions for speaking up, you might still be acting out avoidant behavior whenever you know your opinion is in the minority.
Let’s talk about the language you can use to talk true because having the words to do it is half the battle.
Inside my book Boundary Boss, there is an entire chapter full of scripts for just about every situation you could possibly find yourself in because again, many of us have never been taught HOW to talk true in a calm, respectful, clear way.
The book is now available right here (yay!), and in the meantime, here are some sentence starters to get you going:
“I’d like to make a simple request…”
If you’ve been in my crew for a while, you know hands down, this is one of my absolute go-to’s for effectively communicating boundaries and expressing needs and preferences. (Originated by Marshall Rosenberg, the author of, Nonviolent Communication)
“I want to bring something to your attention…”
This one is great for sharing how you’re feeling and talking true about just about anything.
“I want to revisit what happened yesterday…”
Good for unresolved issues or feelings or to reset a boundary. With “I want to revisit [insert time/situation]”, you have a tool to help you express yourself after the fact.
“Thank you for thinking of me, I’ll have to check my calendar/check-in with my partner and I’ll get back to you…”
If you’re an auto-yes kind of person, this starter gives you some breathing room and space to check in with yourself about whether you really want to say yes or no to something.
It is your right to say no and to leave it at that! Sometimes it can feel like we need to give someone all the reasons why we can’t do something because we feel guilty or uncomfortable and we need a “good enough” reason, but you know what? That is not effective or necessary so no more!
“You’ve asked and I’ve answered.” or “My answer is non-negotiable.”
This is the response if you have people in your life who try to wear down your “no”.
“Why would you ask me that?” or “Why would you want to know that?”
I love this verbal self-defense tactic I learned from Kasia Urbaniak. If someone asks you a question that feels intrusive or inappropriate, you can flip the script and the power dynamic by using these phrases. You can say it in a neutral, calm tone. I have found it HIGHLY effective.
Remember, expressing your true feelings clearly and succinctly is loving. Even though it can feel a little scary to be vulnerable in this way, sharing your truth is the way to authentically invite people into your life to know the real you, and trust me, you are worth knowing!
I hope this added value for you and I’m curious…where in your life is it hard for you to talk true? I’d love for you to drop me a comment here or let me know over on Instagram @terricole.
The downloadable guide to Talk True is available right here along with information on how to order my book complete with a beautiful suite of digital bonuses designed to help you become the boundary boss you were born to be!
Thank you for your commitment to living your most authentic life, for all of your support and as always, take care of you.
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