I start a new project by plucking my eyebrows. Working from home makes this not quite as peculiar a ritual as if I were in an office working among other people. We all have our little (or not so little) idiosyncrasies that are the beauty of what make us who we are.
Sharing about my eyebrow ritual is a harmless example of the opportunity we can create for others when we tell the truth about what’s real for us. Many of us show up with our masks on tight – all polished and shiny – masquerading as someone we’re not. We begin to think the mask is who we are.
There were some newbies in the recent Women at the Well retreat – women who were first timers to the world of personal development and inner work. Right out of the gate one of the participants shared how scared she was to be there and all the excuses she considered to not show up. Yet here she sat – open and vulnerable. Her honesty was refreshing. The masks came off.
Over the 3 days others spoke at various times of being scared, anxious, and way, way outside of their comfort zones. It wasn’t anyone’s job to fix or ease their anxiety. We simply heard them and let them be.
They also spoke of love, trust, flow, peace, and compassion. Honesty creates the opening to be real.
People are hungry for authenticity in the way we relate to each other. We’re not educated in how to be real so it feels awkward and scary. When one brave woman asked: “What would it be like to come to work without our game face on,” the whole dynamic in a business meeting changed.
The brave voice in any collective, business, team, or family brings a fresh perspective and new eyes. It asks the questions that others are afraid to ask or don’t see and that cut to the heart of the matter. The brave voice surfaces assumptions, makes us stop to consider what we really mean by the words we use, and why we’re behaving the way we are.
I’m not completely naive. There can be consequences when we are the one to name the elephant in the room in an environment with a collective (if unspoken) agreement not to speak of the mammoth. Some consequences might be real, though I would challenge most are imagined. We typically imagine the worst that can happen rather than a positive result.
The detrimental effect of staying silent to our soul and well-being is more concerning than any blow-back from the outside. We die a little bit each time we stuff, swallow or dismiss our own wisdom. When the unspoken festers inside it infects our relationships, effectiveness, and ability to create our life dream and go after it. It’s a health hazard.
The power of the single voice to tell the truth without blame or judgment benefits the whole of the collective. When we dare to dream and imagine new possibilities, trust our wisdom and share our truth, we lift each other up and light the way for others to take courageous action.
In the words of our wise ancestor Angeles Arrien: What we are witnessed we are changed by. When we are witnessed we cannot go back.