“Never, ‘for the sake of peace and quiet,’ deny your own experience or convictions.” – Dag Hammarskjold

Since you’re reading this blog, you’re probably familiar with the saying “The only thing we have control over is ourselves”. But, just how  familiar is it to you? Growing up, you likely heard it from your parents, teachers, coaches, or counselors – sage advice that, at the time, might not have entirely sunk in. As we age and become more mentally mature, we’re able to reflect on powerful, life-changing phrases, see what “fits” for us, embrace the core values that resonate within us, and own our own experience.

I had the opportunity to put that phrase to the test – firsthand – on a trip Kris and I took to the Bahamas last year. Though I’ll spare you the details, I will share the lessons I learned and how incorporating them into your life’s approach can help you live more authentically and peacefully.

It’s typical human nature to not want to upset the herd, right? When in groups, we often prefer for things to steadily rock along without conflict, outbursts, or tension, with everyone smiling and in agreement, even if we personally disagree with something. In other words, we aren’t speaking our mind and we aren’t owning our own experience. Though this pleasing behavior may appear to be rooted in altruism, it can eventually result in considerable harm to the psyche, as we aren’t being true to ourselves. Instead of sharing with the group, we may hold back, causing us to ruminate, become frustrated, and feel resentful of others, the situation, or ourselves. To clarify, this isn’t about putting blame on others – it’s about owning our reactions, being accountable, sharing what’s troubling us, and learning how we can make it different.

What’s the first step, you ask? When you’re in a group setting and something doesn’t sit well with you, try sharing your experience with others. Next, check in with a few group members to get their input and learn about their experiences. When we have the chance to hear others, it helps shift our viewpoint by providing us with insight from varying perspectives; we get pieces of information we never would’ve received if we hadn’t shared our story. By taking a chance and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, we open up our world to numerous possibilities, opportunities, and connections. We’re also creating an experience that’s not only better for ourselves, but better for others, too. And there’s more good news! Not surprisingly, respectfully telling our inner stories assists in decreasing fatigue and thought exhaustion – even more reason to be authentic with yourself and others.

TAKE-AWAY: Though challenging at times, owning our experiences will positively impact our lives, as well as those around us. This means we have to be open, curious, and vulnerable, even though we may not like it. The next time you’re with a group and differing opinions surface, try doing some encouraging self-talk, such as “Of course they’d like to hear my thoughts” or “My opinion is worth sharing with others” to warm you up to vocalizing your take on it. Own it!