You were created to Speak Your Truth.
Spiritually. Emotionally. Even Neurologically.
When you don't Speak Your Truth, you tend to live a life in the shadows, a life of fear, a life of mediocrity. It can frequently be a root cause of illness, including depression, immunological deficiencies, and even play a role in cancer.
Not speaking your truth leads to relationships where you put up with other people, but you never really get to experience the best of them, the best of yourself, nor the best your relationships would otherwise grace you with.
Speaking Your Truth, as described in the Prologue, can indeed be used for preventing and/or winning lawsuits. If that is your main objective, you can skip directly to the Phase 5 section of this book and start using the sovereign principles therein, along with our Tri-Mediation Agreement™. This addendum to any agreement is a game-changer. It provides a quick and inexpensive end to having to worry about going to court over any type of financial disagreement ever again. It was created as a direct bi-product of the experience with Alex. Had it been added to the agreement I had originally signed with him, the entire stress-filled year of threats and cajoling prior to the mediation would have been totally avoided. In fact, the Tri-Mediation Agreement possibly would have circumvented all the issues that led up to the breaking up of the relationship.
More about the Tri-Mediation Agreement later.
The 5 Phases revealed in this book are, in fact, about so much more.
Speaking Your Truth in this enlightened manner is a passageway to greater Connectivity, greater Oneness and greater Unity.
In fact, Speaking Your Truth from this elevated perspective, is not about getting what you want or fulfilling an agenda. That's the general view when it comes to the reason you should speak your truth. To get something. And it's also one of the reasons we, on our deepest subconscious level, balk at the thought of doing so.
Enacting the bluntness associated with speaking your truth as a singular act, as opposed to the flowing 5-Phased approach shared herein, we realize we may, in the course of getting what we want, create more separation, more burned bridges, more harm, than getting what we want is really worth.
We Americans (and much of the world) witnessed this type of debacle on a grand scale with the fracturing of our country during the extraordinarily divisive and painful-to-endure 2016 presidential race. The ugliness of what it means to undiplomatically speak your truth for achieving an agenda was never more on display than during the excruciating two years leading up to the election . . . and unfortunately, in the aftermath.
Deep in our hearts, we all know, we as a people, a country and most importantly – as individuals – are better than that.
Speaking Your Truth, as revealed in this book – whether used to mend a personal relationship, to create peace with an enemy, or even with a rogue nation – is a very flowing, careful and deliberate series of 5 Phases. And these Phases are sometimes best implemented over a period of days, weeks or even months. This is in contrast to what people typically associate with the singular explosive act, "to speak your truth."
The 5 Phases are . . .
1. Holding the Space
2. Speaking the Other’s Truth
3. Allowing the Other to Speak Your Truth
4. Asking Questions of Grace
5. Hitting the Nail On the Head
Each one of these 5 Phases, forming the 5 main sections of this book, brim with an atomic power all their own.
Once you discover the simple steps of tapping into each Phase's nuclear power, a new world opens. The effectiveness of each Phase in reuniting you with whomever you feel the need to Speak Your Truth, and getting both you and the other person what each of you are looking for, is roughly 50 to 75%. (We'll use the conservative 50% figure.)
That's to say, in any given situation or conflict, once you discover the simple and friction-free technique of Phase 1 (Holding the Space), there's a 50% chance you will have no need to use Phase 2 (Speaking the Other’s Truth) to achieve your aim.
And likewise, if you need to move on to using Phase 2, there's a 50% chance you will not need to then use Phase 3 (Allowing the Other to Speak Your Truth).
And likewise with Phase 4 (Asking Questions of Grace).
Phase 5, Hitting the Nail on the Head, is what society commonly believes Speaking Your Truth means. However, using the other 4 Phases first, only in perhaps 1% to 6% of the circumstances will you ever need to engage this final Phase.
And where most people perceive Hitting the Nail on the Head as a very blunt and confrontational act, you will discover in this book how to do it in a nearly friction free manner. And you will do it in a way which has practically 100% effectiveness in resolving any conflicts when preceded by the first 4 Phases.
The following table summarizes the approximate percentages each subsequent phase of Speaking Your Truth is required to achieve your aims:
Percentage Each Phase Is Needed:
Phase 1: 100%
Phase 2: 50%
Phase 3: 25%
Phase 4: 12.5%
Phase 5: 6.25%
A Spiritual Practice
This more grace-filled Speaking Your Truth process, as we henceforth reveal, can actually be considered a spiritual practice. And perhaps even The Spiritual Practice of our times.
Using The 5 Phases of Speaking Your Truth, that which seems at first to be an intractable reality, suddenly reveals itself to have extraordinary malleability. With a little practice, the impossible suddenly becomes possible. What's possible becomes probable. And what's probable then becomes inevitable.
Throughout this book, you will see that word inevitable used frequently. The reason is, The 5 Phases of Speaking Your Truth work like the many phases seen throughout nature and the universe.
For example, the phases of the moon – from emerging moon to full moon – are inevitable.
Likewise, the phases of the sun – from sunrise to sunset – are also inevitable.
So too is it with the seasons of the year, the rise and fall of the tides, and the phases of birth, whether of a human, a tree or of a phytoplankton.
So too is the outcome of The 5 Phases of Speaking Your Truth. The inevitable outcome is a return to Unity. And the inevitable outcome of returning to Unity is that you become a master at bending reality.
Fundamentally, the practice works by allowing conflicting parties to realize that their individual interests are much more aligned than previously thought. To those unfamiliar with The 5 Phases of Speaking Your Truth, this may initially seem impossible. After all, a conflict of interest is exactly that:
Yours versus mine.
However, once reestablishing Connectivity – inherently, what The 5 Phases of Speaking Your Truth do – not only do you naturally want to help the other person get what they want, they automatically begin helping you get what you want.
Thus, both parties end up satisfying their individual agendas, no matter how conflicting those agendas may initially have appeared.
As you gain more and more experience creating these types of transformations, you begin to realize that what you are doing is far beyond simply getting something. Rather, you begin to understand your new gifts are returning you to Oneness . . . not only with others, but even more importantly, returning you to Oneness inside of your own self.
The reason is:
Internal discord only leads to more and more external discord. Conversely, inner Harmony is transmitted from the inside out, and then is inevitably reflected back to you by all others on your path.
It is in this manner that The 5 Phases of Speaking Your Truth is a spiritual practice. In applying it, you become a modern-day alchemist where you, at will, turn lead into gold. That's to say, you transform the heavy density of personal agendas, conflict and separation into the lightness of shared Unity, Harmony, Cooperation and Collaboration.
This works equally well in personal and business relationships.
Using this process of Speaking Your Truth in the hardcore arenas of technology and intellectual property, in which I have worked as the founder of two social media companies, I have negotiated agreements and formed alliances that have involved assets worth millions of dollars, and potentially billions in ongoing revenues.
And whether it required working with the most powerful judges, Congressmen and Senatorial offices in Washington, DC, or with some of the well-known superstars in Silicon Valley, doors have continually opened to me via the exquisite transformation process of clearly, yet compassionately – and very patiently – Speaking My Truth.
This form of Speaking Your Truth lies at the foundation of some of the greatest shifts in history.
For an extended period of my life – just prior to the last eight years I have been fulltime in the technology arena – I spent every night before going to sleep slowly reading, absorbing and ingraining into my soul each passage of Nelson Mandela's book Long Walk to Freedom. I was a full-time caregiver during that period to my beloved mother with Alzheimer's. I was in wonderment over what gave Mandela the strength not to lose hope. If this extraordinary man could sustain peace inside of himself while fighting ever worsening oppression, terror and mass murder for more than 50 years – and spending 27 years of that time incarcerated as a political prisoner1 – I could sustain myself for the 14 year sojourn I had as my mother's caregiver, with nine years of that full-time, without a day's break.
Mandela writes in the beginning of his book:
"There were many dark moments when my faith in
humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could
not give myself up to despair."2
But it wasn't until just three pages before the end of his 625-page autobiography, when he described how apartheid and the government behind it finally crumbled resulting in Mandela becoming president of South Africa at the age of 76,3 that he finally answered the question of how he had sustained his faith:
"I never lost hope that this great transformation would
occur. I always knew that deep down in every human
heart, there is mercy and generosity. No one is born
hating another person because of the color of his skin,
or his background, or his religion. People must learn to
hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to
love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart
than its opposite."4
And therein lies the visionary key for redemption, revelation and salvation in every challenge and conflict you and I can ever face.
In this great luminary's words also lies the essence of the higher means of Speaking Your Truth:
To tap into that underlying Compassion and Generosity, the Unity and Oneness, that underlies the invisible power connecting every human heart to yours and mine.
1 Mandela death: How he survived 27 years in prison, www.bbc.com/news/world africa-23618727, by Mike Wooldridge, BBC News, December 11, 2013
2 Long Walk To Freedom, by Nelson Mandela, Little Brown and Co, 1994 3 Nelson Mandela, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nelson_Mandela 4 Ibid., Long Walk To Freedom, , p. 622.
Holding the Space
If you are among the 95% of the population who generally avoids Speaking Your Truth, isn't your concern of rocking the boat what most holds you back? That you subconsciously fear Speaking Your Truth may risk making things worse than they already are?
But what if it were possible to Speak Your Truth in an entirely friction-free manner?
What if it were possible to shift the majority of potential conflicts without saying a single word?
What's more, what if you discovered that to get people and situations to change, you could often be more effective by simply not saying anything?
This is the extraordinary power of learning how to Hold the Space, the very first Phase of Speaking Your Truth.
The Cashier Who Changed My Life
I used to have a major weakness.
And it’s one that a lot of people have.
I would find myself quite frequently getting upset at customer service people.
This rarely occurs nowadays, however, because of a single cashier who changed my life. And she did so by simply Holding the Space.
When we are upset and are directing our anger at another, the trigger is commonly some relatively inconsequential circumstance. Looking back through the lens of time, our cause for being upset can actually be quite laughable! But in the moment, there's nothing funny about how we're feeling, nor about the avalanche unleashed. Nearly always, the emotional charge inside of us has been building for some time. Finally, some straw breaks the camel's back. For those on the receiving end with a higher awareness, it is then revealed that something else – totally unrelated to the surface-level tripwire event – is really going on.
In my case, I had been a full-time caregiver for eight years. It was 2005 and I was hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. This was caused by a combination of medical bills, my compromised work ability, and the 9/11 stock market crash.
Additionally, my mother, for whom I was caregiving, recently became wheelchair bound. This was due to a fall that resulted in her hip fracturing. While the accident had been beyond my control, as her caregiver, I nevertheless felt responsible.
The bottom line was, my beloved mother would never walk again. And after the accident, I instinctively knew it was near the end of her long journey with Alzheimer's.
During one of the once-a-week respites I was given by volunteers from the Stephen's Ministry who would come to spend a few hours with my mother, I had driven to the local health food store to return a bottle of supplements. After purchasing it the previous week, I noticed the expiration date was 6 weeks past.
On my second trip, the clerk told me she wasn't authorized to make a return . . . and that all purchases were final. I held my tongue and asked to speak to a manager. The clerk said none were available, and to come back another time.
It was a full week before I could make it back. Despite my preference to be doing just about anything else – to take a walk, see a movie, or anything to relax from the 24/7 relentless caregiving duty – I instead used the time to head back to the store to see about getting a refund on the expired supplements.
A different cashier was there this time. Because I didn't want to hear the company line again from someone who wasn't authorized to overrule the no-refund policy, I immediately asked the cashier to speak to a manager. To my great frustration, I was once again told no manager was on duty.
I could feel my blood surge and my head cloud.
"Listen," I said. "I was in a week ago. I was told I couldn't return these vitamins then, despite having a receipt clearly showing the vitamins expired 6 weeks before I purchased them. There was no manager to speak to then, and now you're telling me there's no manager to speak to now. I don't get it. It's clear that your store should never have had these vitamins on the shelf in the first place." I tried to control myself, but could feel myself losing the battle. "How can you run a business this way?"
The young cashier started to reply, but expecting her to recite company policy to me, my adrenaline surged and before she could say a word, another torrent exploded forth:
"Y'know, I know you're just an employee. I know you don't make company policy. But for crying out loud, how can you work for a company like this? This is outrageous. How many times am I going to have to come back in here to try to return this? Am I supposed to make this into a life project returning this?"
The young girl opened her mouth again, but immediately closed it, seeing I wasn't done yet.
I continued on:
"Listen, if you don't get a manager on the phone right now, if I don't get this taken care of right now, I'll never come back to this store again. I've been coming here for years, but this is it. This is ridiculous. I want the corporate phone number. I'm going to take this to the next level. I just don't have the time for this. . . "
I went on for what must have been another two minutes, the young girl just sympathetically looking at me, letting me vent.
When I finally was out of words, she said softly, "I'm so sorry for all the difficulties you've had with this sir."
"Listen," I said, "don't attempt to placate me. I want to speak to your manager, and right now! Get your corporate office on the phone. I've had it . . ." and off I was again, the young girl bearing the brunt of my new tidal surge. As previously, she didn't react . . . rather, just Held the Space.
When I stopped, she waited to see if I was truly done this time. Finally, she spoke: "Sir, I'm so sorry. May I say something now?"
I felt drained. I could just nod.
"Thank you so much for your patience, sir. What I wanted to say was, that other cashier? – who told you she couldn't refund you? – she was wrong. I'm so sorry. I'm sure she just didn't know any better. But I can do it for you, no problem." She smiled, and extended her hand for the vitamin bottle I had clenched in my fist.
As if in slow motion, I watched myself release my grasp and hand the plastic bottle over to her along with the receipt. The young girl then proceeded to make a few entries in the cash register. The money tray popped open and she handed me a $35 and change – the amount I had originally paid for the supplements.
I stared down at the money and then looked at her almost uncomprehendingly. I mumbled, "Thank you."
I quickly exited the store and went to my car.
I stayed there, staring out the window, for a long time.
Aren't We Better Than This?
I continued to sit in the car, as if dazed. I replayed what had just occurred over and over.
I couldn't stop thinking:
What in the world was the matter with me?
How could I have let myself get so out of control?
And over what?
Wasn't I better than this?
Indeed, I was better than that. I was a good person with noble intents. According to my mother, I was born with a calm demeanor. I rarely cried. I remained unruffled by just about anything and always seemed to be smiling. My mother liked to tell her friends, "Michael was the easiest baby in the world to raise."
Then, at fourteen years of age, I began meditating. Several decades later, I began writing a book series about overcoming adversity and tragic loss and becoming a Wealthy Soul.™ A decade after that, the series would become a bestseller.
Wasn't I supposed to be a model for others?
And then, a revelation began to dawn in me:
If I could fall so far from grace . . . couldn't anyone?
I felt an extraordinary forgiveness flood through me. It wasn't just for myself, but for anyone I had ever judged. The feeling continued, like a beautiful internally-purifying wave.
Everyone has their own trials with which they're silently dealing. We typically don't have a clue what these hidden issues are weighing on another whose behavior we don't understand. It could be, as in my case, the prolonged illness of a loved one. Or perhaps a person just received a frightening diagnosis. Perhaps they just went through some major financial crisis or relationship breakdown. Perhaps they're exhibiting the effects of post traumatic stress . . . a new event triggering an old wound such as having seen one too many friends die in front of them on the battlefield. Or perhaps some self-protective mechanism has been activated from an experience of physical or sexual abuse as a child.
We never know for sure.
Just as the young cashier at the health food store had no clue what was going on with me.
Yet, while the underlying possibilities for why someone is really upset can be endless, our judgment tends to be singular in nature. Having no way of knowing what is going on with another, our tendency often can be to react to another's anger and meet it with our own.
Yet, the young cashier had not reacted in that manner at all. Certainly, the harshness of my words must have been upsetting. Rather, she had just silently and compassionately held the space . . . as if she had known something beyond a mere expired bottle of vitamins was behind my emotion.
I felt an extraordinary gratitude for this young emissary of light. There had been something so special in the way she had held my gaze. My anger hadn't triggered her. Her countenance had contained neither defiance nor supplication. Certainly, it hadn't been easy standing in the face of such a barrage.
If I could identify a single word for what I had felt from her presence, it was compassion. Yet how could she have known what I was going through?
In fact, she couldn't.
We almost never can.
And yet, therein lies the key.
Therein lies the reason for Phase 1 of Speaking Our Truth versus the much more common reaction of telling the offender exactly what we think.
Therein, in fact, lies the entire reason for, and high degree of effectiveness of, Holding the Space.
Women Holding the Space for Men
(and Vice Versa)
Women have held the space for men since the dawn of humanity. They have had to. With quiet dignity, they have waited millennia for men to finally begin to get it – that flirting and playfulness have limits. That more often than most good men ever imagine, other men violate women's dignity, their self-esteem and their self-worth with various forms of unwanted behavior. That just because these other men didn't rape or molest a woman, doesn't mean that their unwanted comments, innuendos, jokes or gropes are not harmful harassment.
That said, it's important to note that many men have held the space for women, as well.
Just as the young cashier at the health food store had no idea what was going on with me and yet so beautifully held the space for me, so too, in this more conscious generation, many men are trying to be more sensitive. And they're doing so with only a sense of what their lady friends are subjected to, but with no way of experientially understanding.
With the explosion of women now coming forward about the abuses they have suffered at the hands of offending males, the aware men are slowly beginning to understand the magnitude of this issue. And that includes this author. It's extraordinary that fully 50% of the world's population have been almost entirely oblivious of the often regular traumas the other 50% of the population has undergone, and continue to undergo.
This is as opposed to other forms of discrimination, such as those involving race. This typically has been blatantly and unabashedly displayed in public: the Whites Only signs on bathroom doors and over drinking fountains found throughout the
United States but most prevalently in the South for more than a century up until the 1970s;1 and, more recently, the horrendous and highly publicized march by white supremacists on Charlottesville, Virginia that resulted in multiple deaths and injuries.
But most often there are no cameras to film a boss making suggestive remarks to a female employee, or cornering her against a wall and giving her unwanted gropes or kisses.
Additionally, until recently, there was little data collected2 – as shocking as that broader data would be to most men – that could ever make a man understand the sheer number of such occurrences, or the effect even just one such violation can have on a woman's dignity and on her spirit. Even now, after a comprehensive study has documented that 81% of women have experienced some form of physical or verbal harassment,3 it still is next to impossible for a man to viscerally understand what the far majority of women know only too well – the full extent of embarrassment, helplessness and deep-seated wounds even just one experience of objectification or sexual harassment can create.
That includes the subsequent way a woman may, in a man's eyes, overreact to something he innocently says that triggers any one of these wounds he never suspects are even there.
Indeed, it sometimes can be very tricky for men and women to understand each other.
Is there a way for us to better read each other's signals?
Is there some science for us to discover?
And not just between men and women, but in all of our relationships, personal and professional?
It turns out there is.
Lie To Me
The popular 2009 television show, Lie to Me, centered around a psychologist who was an expert at reading body language, and particularly minute facial expressions. In each episode, the brilliant doctor was sought out by heads of companies, governments and law enforcement agencies to uncover the truth in critical situations..4
Lie to Me was based on the real-life work and research of Dr. Paul Ekman of the University of California. Ekman discovered that the 43 human facial muscles were capable of making over 10,000 expressions, each conveying a unique and specific communication.5 This ultra-subtle language was automatic and universal, regardless of age, gender or culture.
Not only do we all make these expressions unconsciously – as many as 25 per second6 – everyone you're communicating with is continuously reading your expressions, interpreting them, and acting upon them. Intriguingly, people tend to be as unconscious of what they are reading and reacting to, as you are to what you are transmitting!
This is to say that we don't need to verbally speak our truth nearly as much as we think we do. People, on a deep subconscious level, have an excellent idea what our intentions are. We can't avoid constantly broadcasting what we are thinking.
Consider how an educated English speaker, while having a vocabulary of as many as 80,000 words, typically uses only 5,000 of those words in speech.7 From a purely numeric standpoint, this means that our collective 10,000 facial expressions can convey twice the subtlety of information as our 5,000 spoken words!
Now, further consider that each of those 10,000 expressions is more like a pictogram – and that a picture literally is worth a thousand words. Compared to what we express verbally, how much richer, more sensitive, and more powerful is our non-verbal communication?
The greatest actors – the Laurence Oliviers and Meryl Streeps of this world – are masters of these subtle facial expressions, as well as body language and voice intonations. Calling upon this hidden language, these luminaries can convey what they want to say without speaking at all.
But these are actors. They have learned to mimic profound micro-behaviors to play a role.
We, on the other hand, don't have to learn a thing!
Our nervous system, face and body do everything for us automatically. When we wish to speak our truth, we are already doing so – without ever saying a word.
Beneath the Surface
What is the difference between Holding the Space versus not Speaking Your Truth at all? On the surface, they appear the same.
But, as illustrated by Dr. Paul Eckman's research, nothing could be further from the truth.
Another apt comparison is watching an average person swimming a lap in a pool versus watching 23-time Olympic Gold Medal champion Michael Phelps.8 In many ways, close-up you may not be able to see a great deal of difference between the two swimmers.
However, zoom out, and you'll see that given the same number of strokes, Phelps is covering virtually twice the distance than the ordinary swimmer.
The key to this extraordinary efficiency of Phelp's stroke lies in what is occurring beneath the surface. Watching underwater, a trained eye will see dozens of subtle differences between Phelps' stroke versus that of the average swimmer. Here are a few:
• The increased angle at which Phelp's fingers enter the water. • The greater rotating angulation of Phelp's torso to the plane of the water with each stroke.
• The precise timing of his kick to each phase of his stroke.
• The minimized movement of his head with each breath.
There are many more factors. Added together, these subtleties create an Economy of Motion that enables Phelps to virtually glide through trillions of molecules of water with a fraction of the resistance compared to the ordinary swimmer.
Holding the Space taps into a very similar Economy of Motion with a resultant decrease of resistance.
Most importantly, understanding the secrets of this powerful technique allows you to quickly shift situations that would otherwise erupt into conflict, eliminating the possibility of a ripple ever becoming a wave.
And in more intractable situations – where such non-verbal methods will not be enough for the other to get the point, and yet where being straightforward can result in dire consequences – Holding the Space allows you to maintain your peace and dignity until the ripples of silence one day becomes an overnight wave of transformation.
The Butler was an epic 2013 movie produced by Lee Daniels and written by Danny Strong9 that beautifully illustrates the power of Holding the Space. The movie was inspired by the actual life of Eugene Allen. Allen worked as a butler in the White House for 34 years.10 In the movie, actor Forest Whitaker plays Cecil Gaines, a character whose life is loosely based upon the real-life Eugene Allen.
The movie begins in 1927 with Cecil as a 7-year old boy working with his parents in the cotton fields of a southern plantation. After the plantation owner rapes Cecil's mother, Cecil's father stands up to the ruthless man, only to be shot dead on the spot by him.
Cecil thereby learns what a lot of repressed populations sadly learn: that open rebellion can have devastating consequences. Cecil grows up, surviving as a waiter and later as a butler, eventually invited to serve in the White House.
A generation later, his eldest son, Louis, a college student during the 1960s, doesn't comprehend the pacifism of his father. He joins the Civil Rights movement, and to the consternation of his parents, Louis participates in open rebellions. This includes, in an act of non-violent protest, subjecting himself to extreme physical violence walking into a Whites Only diner in the Deep South, and later almost getting killed by a bomb thrown by the Ku Klux Klan into a bus he was on with other activists during a Freedom Tour.
In 1965, Louis, who is gradually changing from a freedom-seeking idealist into a hardcore radical, finds himself in a room with Martin Luther King. King, sensing the anger inside of his young compatriot, asks him what his father does for a living.
When Louis reluctantly answers that his father is a butler, MLK says:
"The black domestic plays an important role in our
"I didn't tell you that to make fun of me."12
King, almost as if in meditation, responds:
"Young brother, the black domestic defies racial
stereotypes by being hardworking and trustworthy. He
slowly tears down racial hatred with his example of a
strong work ethic and dignified character. Now, while
we perceive the butler or the maid to be subservient, in
many ways, they are subversive, without even knowing
Essentially, what Martin Luther King was so profoundly saying was that noble men like Louis's father Held the Space for their entire people.
And indeed, because of the real-life Eugene Allen's role serving eight presidents14 – each of whom were influenced by his quiet presence – the simple dignity and self possession of this quiet man had a ripple effect on the entire course of history.
The Receptivity Switch
"There are more synapses in the human brain than there are stars in the Milky Way" 15 16
When Holding the Space, there is an actual biological switch that you can learn to silently activate to create a resistance-free receptivity in others. Discovering how to flip on this simple mechanism will, in the majority of circumstances, automatically change the behavior of even someone who is difficult to handle. This may be an irate customer, a stubborn spouse, or even a hate and anger-filled Klansman.
To understand the subtleties of activating this switch, we have to look to the very core-level functioning of both our brains and our behavior.
Every perception, every reaction in our nervous systems, is driven by the firing of nerve cells. There are 100 billion nerve cells in our brains. 17 18 Any single thought you think may involve hundreds of millions of connections between nerve cells. These connections are called synapses. Biology Online defines a synapse as:
"A specialized structure or junction that allows cell to cell communication."19
This communication occurs when nerve cells fire. The electrical impulse produced travels from one end of a nerve to its other end.
Upon reaching that destination (the synapse), a single electrical impulse typically ignites thousands of additional impulses in adjacent nerve cells.20 Each of those can then trigger thousands more.21 And those tiny bolts of electricity can prompt even thousands more.
In fact, a single thought or perception can generate hundreds of millions of electrical impulses. And all of this occurs in a fraction of a second.
To begin to fathom how unaware we are of all the things being triggered inside of ourselves, let's look at how each nerve impulse contains approximately 10 microvolts of electricity.22
Considering that an estimated 16% of our brain is active at any one time,23 this translates to 16 billion of the 100 billion nerve cells24 in our brain being fired in any one moment. Doing some simple math, we can thus estimate that our brain is producing 160 million volts of electricity in any one moment!25 That's enough to power an entire city the size of Boston or Washington, D.C.!26 27
With this phenomenal amount of stimulation, we are aware of only a fraction of everything going on around us. Yet all that unnoticed activity is registered in our subconscious, even though we are unaware of it.
In other words, the 99% of things we don't notice have many times more influence on us than the less than 1% that we do notice.
This is all to say that, in reference to Speaking Your Truth, what we don't say – what the other person picks up subconsciously from us – has exponentially more impact than any words we actually do say.
And this is where the real art of Speaking Your Truth in a totally resistance-free manner is found.
Sir Thomas Beecham
Sir Thomas Beecham (1879-1961), was the renowned founder and conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra.28 29
Voted by a 2011 BBC poll to be among the top 20 greatest conductors of all time,30 Beecham was famous for the unspoken language of his conducting style. His hand, body and facial expressions electrified his musicians and opera singers, as well as
adoring audiences worldwide. The genius of his non-verbal communication was honored in a 1968 documentary31 that featured some of the greatest musical luminaries of that era including violinist Yehudi Menuhin and opera singer Lillian Blauvelt.
Similar to the way Holding the Space silently allows others to pick up on your thoughts and come into a friction-free alignment with you, one of the musicians interviewed in the documentary expressed the following:
"The creative artists must have some freedom. And
[Beecham] gave us that freedom. In other words, quite
simply, he let us play."32
Holding the Space allows others the same type of freedom. It allows others to receive your truth in their own way, eliminating the misinterpretation of words that invariably occurs in sensitive situations.
Similarly, by not over-conducting his musicians, Thomas Beecham paved the way for them and his audiences to experience the essence of music with him. He did this by first freeing himself to experience it . . . as seen in his completely unrestrained body language. Describing his own extraordinary ability to conduct principally by his body language and facial expressions, Sir Thomas said the following:
"I remember conducting the Berlin Philharmonic
Orchestra years ago. I had some difficulty making
myself understood in German . . . Finally, a man said,
'Sir, you need not tell us anything. We know exactly
what you want from your facial expressions.'"33
Similarly, your facial expressions also lets others know exactly what you want. Yet this silent language doesn't cause any resistance in others . . . which too many words invariably will.
No matter how reasonable you may think your words are, too many of them and you tend to give off a feeling of "My way or the highway" to others. This is what creates resistance. And this, most certainly, is what created the escalation of violence in Charlottesville that led to the death of a counter-protestor, the injury of 30 others, and the horror of our entire nation.
We all know how hard it is to take your words back once you let them go. Most of us also have had the experience of wishing we could.
In contrast, the extraordinary respect Holding the Space accords others provides a flexibility and freedom for everyone to come into alignment on their own. Such respect for others automatically engenders Unity, Harmony, Cooperation and Collaboration rather than the division and polarization speaking your truth with too many words create.
Whether conducting an orchestra, unifying with a spouse, negotiating in business or standing up for a cause, it comes down to this:
Tell others how they should think or feel, and they tend to revolt.
Instead, sow the seeds of an idea with just a few words – or none at all – and everyone tends to come into alignment on their own.
People all the time say to me:
"C'mon Mike, your concepts are great. But is it really possible to speak your truth without uttering a word?
And yet I believe the even bigger question is:
Can it actually be more effective simply remaining silent than even speaking with the most eloquent words?
To answer this, let's start by looking further at how, even when you are talking, you are communicating many more silent signals than spoken words.
In fact, for every sentence you speak, you are likely transmitting hundreds of silent signals. Additionally, your silent signals usually are many times more impactful than your spoken words.
To begin understanding this, let's look at the Chinese Silk Moth.
The Chinese Silk Moth
The receptors on the antennae of the Chinese male silk moth are so sensitive, they can sense a single molecule from a female silk moth located as far as 10 kilometers away.34 The Bio-Mimicry Institute states that:
"[This feat] verges on the supernatural."35
Their scientists report:
"At such a distance there must be as little as one molecule
of scent in a cubic yard of air."36
The extraordinary fact is, we humans, on the very deepest level of our nervous systems, also have sensory mechanisms equally as sensitive. While our antennae may not be wired to answer the mating calls of a female silk moth, we are wired to receive the subtlest of signals having to do with our own well-being.
To understand how this works – how what you don't say can be many times more powerful than what you do say – we have to dive to the very deepest level of the human nervous system.
All or Nothing
Like most people, you may be hesitant to speak your truth.
In more instances than not, you have likely experienced how the bluntness associated with speaking your truth can result in equal bluntness returned, along with a good dose of animosity – and even attempts at turning the tables on you. Thus, the majority of us have been cultured into believing that it is usually best to avoid speaking your truth.
In fact, the typical black-and-white manner of being a straight-shooter and hitting the nail on the head not only usually fails to accomplish its objective; it often inflames matters.
Is there a way we can avoid such bluntness when speaking our truth?
The key neurological point to grasp that answers this question is that a single nerve impulse is an All or Nothing event. Either enough bio-chemicals are released at the junction of two nerve cells (the synapse), and a subsequent nerve impulse results, or not enough bio-chemicals are released, and the nerve never fires.
For example, if someone speaks in a very low whisper, not enough nerve impulses may be fired from your ear to your brain for you to be able to fully understand – or to even hear – what they said.
The microvolt of electricity transmitting each individual nerve impulse is scientifically called an Action Potential.
However, there is a level of functioning inside of you that registers even the most minute stimulations far below the already tiny bolt of electricity contained in an Action Potential. This even more subtle level of stimulation is called a Generator Potential.
Understanding the Generator Potential is key to understanding how Speaking Your Truth can be friction-free and best done with little or no speaking at all.
Generator Potentials and Watermelon
Generator Potentials trigger Action Potentials when a certain threshold is reached in a nerve cell.
The best way to imagine how this electrical threshold works is to think of a watermelon.
My dad used to like putting salt on watermelon. When I was around 11 years old, after a childhood of being unable to imagine why anyone would want to tamper with the extraordinary deliciousness of such a delicacy, one day I decided to try my dad's way. I shook a dose of salt on a watermelon slice, tentatively took a bite, and immediately gagged. I continued to wretch and spit until I finally got rid of the horrible taste.
How in the world could anyone stand that?!
A full decade later, when I was in college in Atlanta, I was invited to a Southern barbecue. The meal began with honey-dipped ribs, luscious coleslaw, corn on the cob and fried chicken. My stomach already bulging from too many of these delights, I nevertheless licked my lips when elegant belles carried in large trays stacked high with watermelon slices – the South's favorite dessert during its sweltering summers.
However, to my horror, just when I was about to indulge, I watched as nearly everyone began seasoning their slices with salt!
My curiosity got the best of me. Could I be missing something?
Putting aside my decade-old traumatic memory, I tentatively shook a tiny amount of salt into my palm. I then carefully meted out just a few grains onto the succulent slice. With my nose scrunched and fully prepared to gag again, I took the smallest bite possible.
Lo and behold, to my extraordinary surprise, I found the taste completely enjoyable! What was the difference?
I realized that, when trying this combination as a kid, I had used far too much salt. Now however, adding just a few grains, the taste of the condiment was barely perceptible – and yet had a most enjoyable effect.
And therein is the reason for this story:
The difference between this subtle stimulation from a few grains of salt versus my first-time gagging from too much salt, illustrates the precise distinction between a Generator Potential versus an Action Potential.
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