On Monday, Fran Wilde posted this piece about being “Mouse”. She spoke about learning to be silent, to be quiet, and gaining competency at sailing a boat. And then she said:
But there is another place where I want that feeling of competence. That sense of being capable:
Speaking up for myself.
I have never felt competent at that.
These words were like a giant gong going off in my head. I’ve been coming to this understanding/realization about myself in the last couple of weeks. I think I’ve realized this before, but in the past, I just felt overwhelmed by it and then let despair set in.
I’ve been working on engaging my fear the last couple of months. I’ve been taking baby steps, and saying out loud the things I think people will make negative judgments about. So far, all signs point to me continuing to do this. Mostly because it strengthens my confidence in myself, which is what Fran talks about in her post.
Speaking up for myself feels like the next stage/phase. I was in yoga on Monday and I realized something I’d never quite put together before. In my adult life, for every employer I’ve had, without fail I’ve jealously guarded my time. I was unwilling to compromise on time. I realize this rigidity is connected to my unwillingness to speak up for myself.
When I was at work, I would let people treat me like crap. When I wasn’t at work, I could choose (i.e. “control”) who I spent time with. If someone was being disrespectful, I could just walk away. Or suffer in silence until the event ended, and then vow to never spend time with that person again.
Fran talks about developing confidence in a physical skill and being able to translate that into another realm. Rose Lemberg responded with a series of tweets about belonging, competence, and privilege. She talked about where one finds strength when there isn’t a physical place to return to (a strong theme for Fran). It was the last several tweets that really nailed it for me (13-18) – like the hammer on the gong.
My center, my core, is here. Right here. (18)
— Rose Lemberg (@RoseLemberg) June 10, 2014
There is something inviolate at my core, a place I’ve guarded and it is that place from which I can trust myself. It is the place I return, time and again.
As I’m learning to turn down the dial on the fear knob and turn up the dial on the curiosity knob, I’m seeing possibility and considering new ways of being. Including standing up for myself.
For today, I’m taking R.E.M.’s song, “Stand”, as my theme song.
I think that core strength that you and Rose both talk about is so beautiful, and valuable. Thank you so much for sharing.
Thank you, Fran. It’s the one thing that feels stable and so the one thing I can count on.
Great post Jill, I think there’s a lot that we process in quiet times, including yoga
(as I’m already finding being a newbie to it!). On occasion it does feel vital to stand up for oneself though beyond that, I think it is more about meeting people in conflict honestly – even if you both walk away with the same perspective you began with, sometimes it’s simply about acknowledging another person’s feelings and thoughts then agreeing to move past the conflict. A very thought provoking piece anyway and I’m glad you’re exploring working with your fear as part of you and not against it. 😀
Oh my gosh, Lou, it’s like you read my mind (or between the lines)!
Yes, this is so right on the money for me. I was operating from fear for so long, I saw everything as a threat. I’m now learning to be more curious, to see my fear as an opportunity to keep breathing. Eighteen months ago, my fear told me that everything would harm me. Now, I’m understanding my fear to be a signifier that this is an area in which I have little skill or practice, and I can apply compassion for myself.
Thank you for your comment. This entire conversation has been delicious for me. I look forward to hearing more about your yoga experiences!
Jill, I would never have thought that you felt like this. I’ve always considered you a strong, brave person. To me you were, are, and always will be!
Thanks, Ranger! I appreciate that. Sometimes it’s nice to know how we are perceived by our friends. 😀
Thank you Jill. As I read and reread this I recognize so much of myself. My fear of speaking up; the actual physical pain I experience when I remember times I have spoken up and been ridiculed, shut down, and treated as though any idea, thought or opinion I have is stupid and that I am not worthy of being heard. In my life I have defaulted to remaining quiet and ignoring so much of what is important to me. This path has not served me well. It has cost me relationships and has lead to living a life of being just on the edge of connection. It is about fear and also vulnerability. Reaching beyond those feelings must be my focus if I am to truly embrace this life. Again, thank you for your insights and your willingness to share.
Thanks for your comments. I can sympathize with your pain and my heart goes out to you. We must recognize our own core goodness and adhere to that. I’m glad my learning is helpful. <3