They say “The truth shall set you free.” Telling your story can also set you free. It’s speaking your truth. It’s not that you’re “lying” if you don’t tell your story. It’s more that telling your story can bring you out of hiding, give you purpose, and make you vulnerable and transparent. So, how can that be freeing? Why is it important to speak out?
Here are a few reasons why it is important to tell your story;
Hiding part of yourself can negatively affect your mental health. Secrecy creates shame. Feeling like you have to hide your feelings or past experiences can make you feel badly about yourself. It can make you feel as if you’re not good enough, or that you should be ashamed of yourself. The reality is that everything you have been through has helped to shape who you are today. Talking about your story is therapeutic. Speaking out can also lighten your mental load, reduce your stress levels, and free up your thoughts so you can focus on more positive things. It can make you appreciate your journey and be proud of what you’ve accomplished. It feels good to be your true and authentic self.
Telling your story can help other people. It lets them know that they’re not alone, and that their feelings are normal. It can be shameful to think you’re different, or that no one else has the same thoughts or behaviors as you. It can make you believe there is something wrong with you. This is especially important with addiction and mental disorders. There is comfort in numbers. No one wants to feel like they’re the only one going through something. It can also encourage others to speak out about their own experiences and struggles. You never know who you are inspiring.
It can reduce the stigma associated with drug and alcohol addiction, depression, and emotional distress. There is such a strong fear of being judged in this society. The more that these issues stay hush-hush, the more it feeds the negativity surrounding these subjects. This can cause people to want to hide their problems, and not reach out for help. The more we talk openly about our own journey, the easier it will be for someone else going through the same thing.
Speaking out can ease physical pain. Did you know that mental pain can manifest as physical pain? You can carry the stress of your thoughts and worries in your body. This can cause aches and pains, and tightness in your muscles, particularly in your back and shoulders. Think about the phrase “Carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders.” Keeping secrets can also cause guilt and anxiety. These feelings can cause nausea, headaches, body aches, muscle cramps, and generally not feeling well. They can also contribute to biological reactions like increased heart rate, high blood pressure, and digestive issues. The thoughts we have in our mind can have a huge impact on our bodies. When you don’t have to worry as much about hiding your emotions, you feel better and healthier, and you can make room for more positive emotions like joy and gratitude.
It gives you power. When you are honest about your past, it can’t be used against you as much. Your fear of people finding out about your past mistakes or bad behavior can make you afraid to connect with others and be yourself. No one can threaten you by outing you if you have already openly shared that part of yourself. This takes the power away from other people and gives that power back to you. You are in control of your truth, and you can tell your story on your own terms. No one owns your story except you!
You can get to know yourself better. It gives you clarity about where you’ve been and where you’re going. Once you are able to talk about your past, you can better organize your thoughts. It’s easier to decide which direction you want to go in, and you can see what you need to do to get there. When you have freedom from your past, it helps you to set goals for your future. You are more confident in your ability to know what’s best for you, and what you want in life. You learn what is important to you and what’s not.
You can attract your “tribe”. When you’re honest about who you are, and you’re no longer pretending to be someone you’re not, you can see who sticks around. You can find out who your true friends are; the ones that love you for who you really are. It becomes apparent who was your friend for the wrong reasons. Maybe all you had in common with someone was drinking and partying, or your relationship was toxic or controlling. When you are your true self, you can connect with people on a deeper level. You are then able to surround yourself with people who are good role models for you, and have your best interests in mind. Not to mention you can be a good role model to others.
All these are great reasons to be open and honest with your own story; whatever that may be. That being said, it’s not easy to speak out. It’s scary to be vulnerable. It takes a lot of courage to share what you’ve been through. The thought of encouraging and helping other people makes it a little easier for me to continue to talk about my journey, as frightening as it is. There are so many different versions of our stories out there; as many as there are people, and the more we put them out there, the more we all benefit, and the better off the world will be!