Regena Thomashauer, aka “Mama Gena,” taught me that the Latin root of the word, “nice,” is nescius, meaning ignorant. She wrote about how being nice can get in the way of women speaking their truth. It is true that women may not speak their truth, or speak up at all, in order to prevent someone else’s anger or detachment towards them , to keep the peace, or out of consideration of another’s feelings (not wanting to hurt feelings).
I see this with women in my counseling practice. To be fair, women have not always been raised to speak their truth or to speak up at all. Often times, women have been raised to be nice.
I raised my own daughter to be wild and unruly. This I did primarily by allowing herself to just be. I never imposed upon her the idea that she not speak her mind. That she conform to being nice.
I have noticed that the multitudes raising this next generation of women in the USA (dubbed Generation Z) have done the same. A large wave of consciousness seemed to flow over women bringing up girls across the country. Was this simply because so many more of these mothers went to college, gaining a higher education, so that it was no longer possible to remain “ignorant”?
Perhaps so. Perhaps the college education plays a part in the phenomena. We certainly know from experts that educating women is demonstrated to improve the health and wealth of the entire community.
As Amal Clooney speaks in her UNICEF ad, “holding back women is holding back half of every country in the world.” So how do we let loose our women? How do we free, foster, nurture, and support, women in speaking their truth?
What I have learned is that speaking one’s truth is a skill like any other, to be practiced. A first step of course may be awareness. This may be followed by the question of how to do it, and “what language to use as I still want to be kind?” Of course you still want to be kind. And “kind,” does differ from “nice.” It is very possible for all of us to learn how to speak our truth in kind and loving ways.
You may start by pausing and tapping into, “what is my truth?” in the very moment or circumstance. This in itself is a huge accomplishment, particularly if you grew up in an environment where your needs or wants were not acknowledged, asked for, or dismissed if given. Your hard-wired unconscious response may be to suppress what it is you truly want or believe, as you were trained to be nice, to not make waves, to cater to the needs or desires of others first, to place yourself second, if at all.
Your truth is an honest and authentic expression of your feelings, thoughts, wants, needs, dreams and desires. This differs from ‘The truth’ about things in the outer world-persons, places, and events-as these are formulated by our perceptions, as Catherine Shainberg PhD points out. We can become conscious of the filters and structures which are calculating our perceptions. We may relieve a lot of suffering and gain a lot of healing by changing or freeing our mind from biased or faulty perception.
We engage the voice to speak our truth. You may feel like your voice is rusty and squeaky, scratchy and uneven. I can tell you for sure that once you begin using it, it will become very fluid, fine-tuned, capable and smooth. Does it take courage? “Yes.” Does it take confidence and trust in yourself? “Yes.” Does it take love? “Yes.” You are being very loving to and trusting of yourself when you speak your truth. You are demonstrating self-compassion.
Your voice may or may not have been allowed you by your parents, spouse, religion, or culture, but all you have to do to activate it is to accept, allow, and approve of it yourself. The only one you need to give you permission to tell your truth is you.