I don’t want to tell you this.
I did a ritual for New Year’s Eve. I prepared for it first, creating a list of reflective questions and answers. Those answers I decided I would speak during the ritual.
I made an altar. I placed objects upon it that reflected my experiences of 2015. There was a candle to represent fire because so much of last year burnt. There was a card I’ve kept for years and can never throw away that shows a person stepping off a cliff and walking a tightrope. There were tarot cards, lots of them, including the Three of Swords that shows three swords piercing a bleeding red heart, and the Queen of Swords, who is beautiful and fierce and not to be messed with and will draw her sword and do whatever needs to be done when that’s her truth.
I lit incense that was sitting in a bowl my grandmother had painted with soft, pale pink roses and filled with sand. I put a floating candle and red geranium in a crystal bowl of water. I sat on a cushion, on top of my sacred rug, in front of my altar.
None of that is what I don’t want to tell you.
One of my reflective questions was, “What floored you this year?”
This is the part I don’t want to tell you. What floored me was that, after separating from my husband, seeing all the ways I’d held everything together for everyone.
And when I stopped, when I just stopped being that person any more, what floored me was seeing all the ways everything wasn’t held together for everyone any more. And I felt shocked, gobsmacked, appalled by what I watched going on around me, realising that my holding everything together hadn’t been the truth.
I don’t want to tell you that because it makes me feel foolish, as if somehow I should have known better.
I don’t want to tell you that because it shows how disconnected I’d been for so long, when I teach other women how to be powerfully present when they speak.
I don’t want to tell you that because, while I was once trying to do everything I thought I should do, to be my “best” for everyone else as a wife, mother, and business woman who cares deeply, I was wearing blinkers, like a horse racing down the wrong track.
I don’t want to tell you that being competent, with an “I’ll-be-fine, thanks, so-just-pile-more-on-me-and-I-probably-won’t-say-no-because-I’m-here-to-hold-everything-together-for-everyone-else” attitude has been one of my greatest downfalls and flaws.
I also don’t want to tell you that being strong all the time, and speaking only from your strengths, won’t make you a powerful speaker (because you might decide you don’t want to be one, and that would be a terrible shame).
Here’s what I know:
The most powerful speakers know themselves exceptionally well. They learn from their experiences, make meaning from them, and share the results in ways that are useful to their audiences.
The most powerful speakers often tell stories they don’t really want to tell, knowing that being vulnerable and real will connect most deeply, inspire most effectively, and make the biggest difference for their audiences.
The most powerful speakers get scared, and feel the icy sharpness of taking a deep breath just before saying something that exposes them as human, and that might even ruffle a few feathers too.
The most powerful speakers understand that strength without vulnerability depletes their power.
They also get that vulnerability is a strength.
So they do what it takes to stay connected with their truth and they speak it.
And they keep speaking, holding firm to the message that matters to them, regardless of other people’s opinions, judgements or agendas. Because the message is too important to buy into that. Far out, that message is no less than what gives them their sense of purpose on this planet.
I do want to tell you that, this year, with life well and truly on my own terms now, I put presence and connection with myself first.
I do want to tell you that, when I step into hold-it-together-for-everyone-else mode, I notice, and I make a better choice.
I do want to tell you that I don’t enable other people when they behave like victims.
I also want to tell you that I’m very happy in my world.
And, if I was delivering a talk to you about all this, and I wanted to speak powerfully and make my lessons useful in the hope they might make a difference for you in your own life, I’d share all of the above with you, especially what I did – and how I did it – to get from I don’t want to tell you to I do want to tell you.
Discover and speak your truth. Shift past what’s been holding you back. Learn how to well and truly own the room, surrounded by a group of other powerful women who will cheer you on when you rock that stage.
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