Thursday, December 2, 2010

How to say anything to anybody.

In the online pagan mediasphere of podcasters and bloggers, I've sort of become known as that guy who will say exactly what is on my mind with an unapologetic attitude. At the 2010 Pagan Podkin Supermoot, the one thing I was told over and over again by those present was that I was a lot more fun and friendly in person than they expected. (Apparently, everyone thinks I'm an asshole or something.)

That's fine... I suppose it's not the image I wanted to cultivate, but it is what it is. Honesty is something that is important to me. For too many years I was dishonest about too many things: my sexuality, the way people made me feel, the way I felt about other people and situations, and on and on. In the southern US, and especially in east Texas Southern Baptist mentality, one is expected to memorize the three R's: Repress, Repress, Repress. Bottle up all those silly emotions and ideas of individuality and difference and blend.

By the time I was 18, it was clear that this mode of communication - or non-communication, rather - had taken its toll on my psyche.

After a few years in therapy, far too much casual sex, and working through my self-image issues, I finally came to a place where I felt good about myself. Good enough to not let people walk over me. I also came to a place of honesty in my life - there's that H word again.

Recently I was asked how it is that I'm able to say the things I say without crying afterwards. How am I this 'brave'? I don't think of it as bravery at all. I also don't just say things to hear myself talk. I am me. If I wanted to hear me spout off at the mouth I could do that quite easily without all the podcasting accoutrements. So, then, why...or how, rather, do I say the things I say?

Here's a quick tip, a mini-lesson in speaking your mind:


  1. Decide if the thing you want to say needs to be said. Now, I'm talking 'need' here. Not 'want' level speech. We're all adults. We should know the difference between the things we want (like a shiny new iPad) and the things we need (groceries and a roof over our heads). The same thing applies to speaking your mind. Did you ever see that movie Ever After? Anjelica Huston's character has a wonderful line that says, "Don't speak unless you can improve the silence." Well, it's sort of true when it comes to sticky situations that merit a speaking of one's mind. Decide what needs to be said and stick to that and only that. Don't over-editorialize; don't interject too much personal opinion into the matter. Just say what needs to be said.
  2. Decide if saying something will improve the situation. Sure, something might need to be said, but will you accomplish anything by saying it? If I'm a messy housekeeper and you, as my friend, tell me I need to clean my house, I might be inclined to let that thought go right out the other ear. Is the listener willing to listen and to truly internalize what you're telling them? If you're going to say something potentially blunt and pointed, make sure it's not going to fall on deaf ears.
  3. Decide if you will feel worse for not saying something. If you're going to keep beating yourself up about it, then it might be imperative to your psychological health to get what needs to be said off your chest. 
Now, remember, you might want to tell your boss off or curse out your neighbor because of their rude behavior, but that might not be what needs to happen. Assess the situation and make a good, informed, balanced, and karmically sound decision. 

Any more questions or advice, send your emails in or leave a comment!

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

4 comments:

  1. What if you don't know how they'll react? What if the "need" is about retaining relationships while still being honest and genuine? What if you don't know how deaf they may be? What if you can't tell if your knowledge of the situation is at the same level as the other persons (such as when you don't know the level of education or other background of the person)? What if you only have a moment to decide?
    I like to give people the benefit of the doubt... that they're not horrible, hate-filled, nasty people (unless I know otherwise)... that they are level-headed enough to be reasonable in their response, but am often hurt when people turn on me. I try to be polite and reasonable, but even so, these reactions make me wonder what I'm doing wrong to receive such response. Is it something about me or my approach that begs to be turned against?
    But you are able to speak your mind and do so in a highly confident and confrontational tone of voice and, to your credit, backed up with humorous hyperbole (that not everyone understands as humor, hence the reactions you sometimes get) and can take all of this in aperent stride. To me, that's brazen and couragous. (Don't sell yourself short!! It is!)
    I value honesty as much as you. I learned long ago that I couldn't afford to hang my identity or genuine self on other people's opinions, but I'm the "take my ball and go home" kind of person when it comes to conflict and confrontation. That deprives me of some things I might want (like certain relationships), but protects me from being attacked just for being me and wanting to protect the things I value. I guess I haven't developed that ability to objectify others since I still get so hurt when they dissapoint me with their anger and self-superiority.
    Seeing how you behave has taught me that I may be TOO much of an avoider, but I just don't know how to deal with conflict, especially when they start hitting below the belt without warning. I have too much faith in people, I think, that it's harder to understand when they suddenly attack isntead of being reasonable as I would expect them to be. I'm afraid if I don't give them the benefit of the doubt, I'll be judging them and the last thing I want is to BECOME that judgemental, vicious person that would hurt others the way I have beeen hurt.
    Make sense?
    -Scarlet

    ReplyDelete
  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love that you quote "Ever After" so often. You bring up some of my favorite lines, the ones I quote myself. I love that movie. It's a gem.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wow, I never had the impression of you being unfriendly or a jerk. After having listened to quite a few of your podcasts, my impression of you is that you are a friendly, confident, intelligent, and VERY patient man. I appreciate how well informed you are and I enjoy the manor with which you deliver your opinions or factual information.

    I'm so glad you share a little bit of your self with us. You're a bright and sincere light in the world. Thank you. :)

    ReplyDelete