That feeling when you want to say something, but stop yourself and go through an internal dialogue about how to say it, when to say it or whether to say it at all.
This process of deliberation is common and, in many ways, unique to the current state in which we find ourselves: a world that vehemently encourages representation of the self, and holds us to it.
In fairness, pressures exist now that didn’t before. What we say can be broadcast across the globe in mere seconds, grossly heightening the potential for error (or so it seems). We fear how our words may be received or we end up saying things we don’t mean because we are so used to hearing them a certain way and we don’t want to upset others. We worry people may not understand if we start to say something different to that we’ve said before. There is pressure to make grand statements about what we do and who we are, and what we stand for.
Our hesitation to speak our own truth in any given moment can be for a number of reasons. Perhaps it comes from a desire to be understood or because it feels like the stakes are higher nowadays if you get something wrong. There is a concern that we have all gotten very used to behaving in this way and do not realise the limitations thinking like this has placed on us. Though we may be doing a lot of self-work we need to consider if that is in pursuit of getting to a ‘best’ version of the self, a permanent destination that once reached we will have achieved what life is all about. When we know exactly who we are and what we want to say then we will be able to contribute to our highest capacity and we will be a faultless self, free of the worry of being criticised. But here is the limitation: When we know who we are and that version of us feels fixed, it means we have stopped growing and growth is really what life is all about.
The self is not static. We are ever-evolving, ever-changing, ever-growing. And there is immense beauty in that. Growth is achieved through learning and making mistakes, through trying and falling down, through making the statement and being challenged on it. This is an ongoing process and we should not want to get to the end. It is funny that in a world that is constantly moving we expect people to be stable, stationery, unchanging. We need to create space for people and ideas to develop. Giving room for them to say what they think in that moment with permission to change their mind later if they choose.
The conversation needs to be more around learning and gradual improvement and letting people know that it’s ok if the way you say something isn’t perfect every time. It's not about using our words to be deliberately hurtful. It's about relieving ourselves of the need to pore over every word before we contribute our thoughts. It's about saying how we feel in that moment, even if it feels a little uncomfortable. In fact, it is the times it feels uncomfortable that reveal the most potential for development.
Part of an ongoing conversation, these thoughts are a collaboration between CloudCloth founder, Catherine Parker, and creative, Sarah Ilene Nelmes, that we will be sharing more of soon.