We all have a filter inside our brains. Think of a coffee filter.
The stuff that goes into the filter, the grounds and water, that represents our thoughts, and the stuff that comes out, the coffee, that represents our words. When a thought enters our mind, our filter decides, yes it's okay to say, let it through, or no, don't say it.
But here's the thing. You probably have an overactive filter. And because of that, nothing gets through. It's like having a coffee filter that makes no coffee. You filter too many thoughts.
This is a quote from Brad Blanton, and his book Radical Honesty. And this is what he has to say about filtering"
"Withholding from people, not telling them about how we feel or think, keeps us locked in jail. The longer we remain in that jail the quicker we decline."
In other words, filtering ourselves keeps us locked in jail.
And what happens over the long run is that you filter yourself so much that you don't trust what you have to say anymore.
So what can you do about it? Say what comes to mind.
(NO DUH, you're thinking. But keep reading!)
Take your thoughts and bring them to the outside world. When you speak honestly and clearly, there's a harmony that people will see about you, and will allow you to connect with them authentically.
At this point you might be thinking, "But I don't have any thoughts." And that's simply not true. I'm willing to bet you have plenty of thoughts. You're just so used to filtering them so much that you've convinced yourself that none of them are worth saying out loud.
So that brings us to HOW. Here's a simple exercise (you can do alone) that helps you become more talkative when you're actually around people.
In a nutshell, talk out loud when you're by yourself. It gets your brain used to verbalizing your thoughts.
- First, find a private place where nobody will hear you. Like your bedroom or your car. The key is that you're not worried about people hearing you.
- Ok once you've found that place, now it's just you and your thoughts. Now just let your thoughts flow. And what you're going to do is SAY EVERYTHING that comes into your mind. Literally everything.
- It's going to feel weird, and you're going to notice you filter yourself, even though you're alone... but remember, it's just you, nobody can hear you, so say everything you're thinking! What we're doing here is exercising your ability to turn off your filter.
- Spend at least 5 minutes doing this every day. At first it's going to be hard, and you're going to hate the sound of your voice, but over time it'll get easier, and it'll be easier to just let the words flow.
- Now take it to the next level, by recording yourself. This is going to make you feel even more self conscious because now it feels like someone's listening to you, and it's more real. But remember, you're still alone, so think of it as the transition between talking to yourself and talking to other people. You can use your phone or computer microphone, or whatever you have, and go ahead and record your stream of consciousness for 5 minutes.
- The more you do it the better you get. And over time you'll find you start to trust and even like the sound of your own voice. And in social situations it may actually be more difficult to NOT speak up.
To learn more check out the 'Start Enjoying Small Talk' course.