Stand Up and Speak Out

While writing the description for our 5th Chakra Retreat: Speak Your #SoulTruth a week ago, we remembered a conversation we had with our friend Siva at a VIP cocktail in NYC last February.

He shared with us:

Human beings are the only known species amongst all other creatures, who would spend the first two years of our lives telling our offspring to “Stand up” and “Speak out” – and then spend the rest of the time telling our kids to “Sit down” and “Shut up”.

We were having a casual conversation; but what he said hit me (Tay) like a ton of bricks. #Soultruth #sotrue

While Val literally had her mouth stuffed with red hot chilies to get her to sit down and shut up when she was younger; for as far back as I could remember, I had always practiced self-censorship.

One of my clearest childhood memories was of me sitting on the floor feeding myself lunch. I remember my Mum praising me in front of friends and relatives, “She’s very well-behaved. She does what we tell her to do, always.”

While Val shared stories about being punished in class for asking too many questions, I don’t recall myself asking ANY questions in class. It’s not that I was afraid of being punished, the thought of asking questions simply did not cross my mind!

And so for the first 15 years of my education, I did everything I was told to do.

I memorized my textbooks, formulae, and model answers. It’d served me well. I would always ranked top 3 of the class academically. And I was also picked to be in a leadership position in the student government.

How do you lead without asking questions or having an opinion, you ask. I just expected everyone to do what I do:

Sit down, shut up and do the work.

Then came college. This ‘sit down and shut up’ trait of mine that got me to where I was, began to fail me.

All of a sudden, every single written assignment required a personal opinion. “What do you think…” #mindblank. What was I supposed to think???

My default response was, “Okay, what’s the correct way to think? Where can I find model answers for this? Whose essays had gotten A+ for this topic?”

It’d never occurred to me, that my thoughts, what I “think” would be of any service. Or that they mattered.

All of a sudden, class participation (i.e. asking questions in lectures) became an important deciding factor between a 1st or 2nd class honors. #mindblank. What was I supposed to ask?

What if everyone else knew the answer to my question but me? What if my question was not pertinent or smart or cool enough? What are the correct questions to ask??? Anybody?

I didn’t do very well in college because I always felt “out-spoken” and “out-eloquented” by others.

It was during this period in time that I became acutely aware of all the thoughts and opinions that went through my head.

The ones that were never expressed. The ones I thought I didn’t have.

I would wake up in the mornings and think to myself: “Lecture starts at 10am. Those born with the gift of the gap don’t even attend lectures. They just need to “opinion” their way through assignments. I attend lectures dutifully everyday and my grades aren’t even half as great as theirs. I’m never going to make it.”

Whilst I had continued to hold student leadership positions in college; expecting my college mates to “sit down, shut up and do the work” failed badly as a strategy. I ended up having to do everything myself, thinking to myself: “Well Tay, you absolutely suck. You can’t even open your mouth to ask for help. Look at how everyone dislikes you.”

These thoughts quickly globalized throughout my life.

“I can’t speak” became “No one wants to listen to me”; which then morphed into “No one likes me”; and eventually, it became “I am always wrong” and “I did the wrong thing again”.

They became loops in my head, like a broken record that simply refuse to stop.

Some of you know the ending to this one.
Some of you were right there with me.
Some of you are right here, now.

Wherever you are, I want you to know – I hear you.

As these thoughts cultivated my inability to ask for help, default victim response and passive aggressive behavior, I found myself “respected” at work because of this wall of alienation, disguised as aloofness.

And on my path of self-inquiry and self-awareness, I began to realize, I wanted attention. Attention from my Mum, my friends, my teachers… Attention which I’d felt I couldn’t speak up and ask for; because my silence and submission were previously reaffirmed and rewarded.

Almost every single spiritual teacher, and even Val, had told me that my 5th chakra (the throat energy center) is my strongest suit. My #superpower, if you will.

It baffled me for a long time because I’ve always felt the opposite to be true.

I don’t speak out. I would rather suffer (and learn later that in doing so, make my loved ones around me suffer along), than speak my truth.

And so, whilst preparing for our upcoming 5th chakra retreat, Val told me, “The 5th chakra is not just about expression. It is about intentionally speaking your reality into existence. The things you say to yourself in your head with such conviction: I am not good enough, I am always doing the wrong things, I am wrong etc. – you’re intentionally speaking them into existence.”

In other words, whatever I say and think, I manifest. (And almost always, instantaneously.)

I sometimes wonder if we set up these retreats like “levels” in a virtual role-playing game. Only, it’s not virtual. It’s very, very real.

And in these moments or realness, I’m faced with an opportunity to up-level… IF I’m willing to step forth and own my #superpower, my truth.

Stand Up and Speak Out - Tay

So this post is my way of standing up and speaking out my #soultruth.

I have come to realize, that while the words we say to others are important, the words we say to ourselves carry 10 times more potency and weight in shaping our realities.

I have committed to stand up and speak out. To stand up and speak out all the self-deprecating thoughts that run through my head. To catch the thoughts and ground them into Mother Earth.

I forgive those thoughts, and I forgive myself for having them. Those thoughts, they were once upon a time my friends. They knew I didn’t know how to speak up and ask for help, so they tried to protect me by making others wrong. They tried to bring me the love and attention I wanted by making me suffer. And they no longer serve me now.

I know I can stand up and speak out for myself – and do so in a way that’s loving, powerful, accessible; and still authentic to me.

Now, these “I’m not good enough” thoughts still show up every now and then and offer to cuddle me in their stories, especially at “blindspots” in life, and especially when life throws a curve-ball.

Sometimes, I catch them before I allow them to replace my truth and displace me altogether.

Sometimes, I need a healthy dosage of reminders, safe-space, and accountability; packaged nicely into mighty capsules called ‘Val’. Our secret phrase (in addition to “Chicken Wings VS Drumsticks”) for this:

“Is this true? Is this Tay? Where is Tay?”

It’s my cue to shift and re-center in 3 steps:

  1. I’ll bring myself back from whichever dark hole my “not good enough” story has sucked me into
  2. I’ll ground my body and discharge any energies from the experience that don’t serve me, or are simply untrue
  3. I’ll anchor myself in my truth mantra, and honor my #soultruth: The circumstances are not a reflection of me. How I respond, and what outcomes I choose to create are. So I choose a different outcome from my self-diminishing, self-destructive past.

After writing this and before clicking publish, my old thought patterns had another run at me. I felt raw, numb… and if I may be completely honest – pathetic and hypocritical.

Who am I to teach a retreat about speaking your #soultruth, when I’m still learning to own mine?

If I can see it, surely you, my dear friends and readers can, too!

In a moment of panic, I wanted to delete this whole damn thing.

Val took over the document from me and told me, “We teach that which we need to learn most. Someone else needs this message. Now that you’ve spoken it, let it go do its thing. It’s bigger than you, than me, and all our insecurities and fears combined.”

So here we are.

I wanted to leave you with a question that has struck a chord deep within, both Val and myself, from Sophie Trudeau: “How do you treat yourself when you are alone with yourself and nobody else in the world is watching?”

Because how you treat yourself, especially when no one is looking, is how you’ll end up treating everyone and everything else.

More importantly, it’s signalling to the Universe and everyone and everything else how to treat you.

[bctt tweet=”Stand Up & Speak Out against old stories that are holding you back from your #soultruth.” username=”taynval”]

Stay true, and return to you.


With love and more love,
Tay (and a dosage of Val)

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