I just got back from an amazing trip where I got to hang out with a bunch of my favorite entrepreneurs. We did a lot of work on creating our biz ideas and goals, which was a combination of listening to our own deepest thoughts and feelings and then finding a way of articulating them – first through reflection, then the pen and then through our voices.
So, it seemed fitting to share today, my guest blog post for The Scare Your Soul website (deets below), which is called “The Courage to Speak.”
I grew up in a loving, talking family, where there were deep connected relationships and friendships and a lot of support. I married young and emigrated from London to the US. I had three children and during that period as my marriage imploded, I lost the courage to speak.
I was acting and living from a place of loyalty and what I felt were expectations for who I should be, how I should act, what I should be thinking and saying. I did not speak what I was truly feeling.
Courage is defined as: “the ability to do something that frightens one;” & “the strength in the face of pain or grief.” I did not have the ability to do something that frightened me – I did not want to open the door to the inevitable criticism and the fact that I would have to always take the blame – because I did not have the strength to face the pain.
How did I handle this? I kept clear boxes around my thoughts, feelings and actions. I am great at thinking – I have a PhD in cognitive neuroscience and a loads of trainings. I am great at acting – whether it’s child-related & home-related actions like painting & knitting, cooking, breastfeeding, after school activities, friends – seeing them, connecting with them, or personal – doing trainings, starting my own Coaching business, exercising my mind & body.
What I lost during my unhappy marriage, was the ability to feel – to see whether my actions and thoughts were giving me joy and were in alignment. The self-work I have actively pursued through during the last 8 years – as a result of my child’s cancer, my son’s diagnoses which required OT, PT, therapy, my marriage imploding, my beloved cousin’s death of leukemia at the young age of 37 – had a catalytic effect on how I engage. I definitely & defiantly increased my strength in the face of pain & grief.
I was always able to ask questions – in fact my ex-husband always used to get annoyed with what he called my toddler-like need to constantly ask questions. What I have had to relearn was how to connect my questions to my own feelings.
For that, I had to learn how to listen to myself. To listen deeply. And then when I heard myself, to have the courage to speak. In yogic texts we work on aligning and unblocking our chakras – my work was in my solar plexus (self-worth, self-esteem) and my throat chakra (communication, self-expression), which, ironically are below and above the heart chakra – which was, of course, deeply wounded, following the end of a 16 year relationship.
Here are my personal tips for cultivating the Courage to Speak:
1) Meditate daily – meditation cultivates self-awareness and a friendliness with your own mind. If you can’t take the time to slow down and look at your mind, you won’t cultivate the ability to listen to yourself
2) Talk about the things that upset, confuse you – therapists, friends, coaches. Getting things out in the open, having someone reflect them back to you, is a vital part of perspective, healing and listening to yourself
3) Create free mental space – running, journaling, folding laundry – allow your mind the space to wonder and see what comes up & if it’s sadness, feel into the grief process, but watch that you don’t get stuck there
Now, my friends, family & clients know that I am, in the most part, integrated and aligned around the courage to speak. I embody the lack of fear which means I am not afraid to ask the questions that need to be asked because I have the strength to face what comes at me. This self-growth never stops, and is a huge part of how I live my life & how I encourage those around me to live.
Hope to see you on the other side of fear & courage – join the movement!
Scare Your Soul is a collective effort to “claim our courage back” – started by Scott Simon & Sara Luering – sign up & receive the book, if you’re in CLE, sign up for the kick-off event Monday Oct 24th, connect on Social Media (#ScareYourSoul, Facebook) select 1-3 things that Scare Your Soul & then do them Weekend Oct 28-30.
Copyright Tamsin Astor, 2016.