Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they, too, have their story. –Max Ehrmann, “Desiderata”
Everyone is at different stages of consciousness. There is a certain stage you reach where your intent is to only speak your truth, not convince others of it. You begin to realize that everyone has their own path. –Susan Scotts, consciousmotivator.com
Enlightenment is not a one-shot deal. It’s a series of “aha” moments that you get, one after another, where you come to understand just a little bit more about how the Universe works. Mostly, it comes as a result of experiences we have in life, and the necessity of living through the consequences of those experiences. That’s why there are different states of consciousness: if someone has not had the same experiences as you have had, they cannot know what you know, and vice versa. A person at a “higher” state of conscious isn’t better or more worthy than one of low consciousness. They are simply farther down the road of life.
In a recent post on Blogspot called “Why Is Your Truth Different from Mine?” I wrote about the idea that there is really no one Universal Truth that everybody understands the same way. Rather, we each get as much of the truth as we can understand and process at any given time. Truth appears different for each of us, because we are at different levels of understanding. That’s why there are so many arguments in the world. Everybody looks at truth just a little bit differently.
If you listen to two people arguing about something they believe passionately, you will realize that each is speaking their own personal truth. The problem is that they are also trying to convince the other to agree with them, and in the vast majority of cases, this is not going to work. People will argue on and one, far into the night, trying to get the other person to agree. They think to themselves, “If I just explain it right, he’ll see the light and he’ll realize I am right.” So, they say the same thing over and over, in different ways, hoping they will hit on just the right explanation that the other person will accept. I’ve been guilty of this, and so have a lot of other people.
It’s really hard to speak your truth without offending anybody. Some people just seem to wield their feelings like a weapon, expressing their shock and outrage in such a way that the statement, “I am offended” becomes an accusation: “You offended me.” Sometimes you just have to let people have their say, no matter how offended they are. Remember, they’re at a different state of consciousness, and they just understand everything a little differently.
Another reason it’s hard to speak your truth – especially when it goes against the “accepted wisdom” – is that people have all kinds of fears, not the least of which is fear of being co-opted or controlled by someone else, the fear of being wrong, or the fear of being made a laughingstock. Especially when your truth as you see it goes against beliefs that people hold very dear, you will have to deal with people’s fear of change, and the fear that their whole world will be turned upside down. And maybe it will, who knows? But that’s not your concern. It’s theirs.
In order to soften people’s reactions, you can learn to speak your truth in such a way that your listeners understand you are not necessarily trying to change their minds, that you are simply giving your interpretation. The trick is this: you have to believe that. In other words, you really do have to give up trying to get others to agree with you, because they never will! That’s why in the “Desiderata,” Max Ehrmann advises us to “speak quietly and clearly.” Notice that he doesn’t advise us to convince others that we are right!
When you realize that everyone has a bit of the truth but no one person has it all, you can relax and hold out your own truth for others to hear, while listening to their truth with courtesy and respect, because they have another view that you should at least listen to, even if you can’t accept it as your own truth. Nobody is going to take your truth away from you unless you let them. They are too busy holding onto their own truth. Even if you live in a country whose government is a dictatorship, even if you are in a concentration camp, you can hold onto your own truth while you outwardly acknowledge the political “truth” that is being foisted on you.
Here in the United States, another election year is upon us, and we will have to listen to political arguments from the right and the left. Some of these arguments may also have to do with religion. No matter what you believe, take this opportunity to learn how to speak your truth quietly and clearly, but allow others their differing beliefs. There’s an art to this. Learn to listen with respect to opposing beliefs, and seek to understand others’ points of view, even if you reject them, ultimately. Give to others what you would wish for yourself: the freedom to think for yourself. 🙂