Something is happening around you that has you leaning in. Maybe it’s a mother handling a crying child in the department store a little too rough. Maybe it’s a police officer talking to a man. Maybe it’s in a meeting at work and your boss asks if anyone has an idea about something or a solution to a problem. No matter what it is, your cranial brain leans in a little, and your cranial powers kick in.
I say your cranial powers because it is the cranial brain that many people rely on before they decide to speak up. It dictates if they speak up and, if they do speak up, what they say.
The cranial brain runs through a list of questions and considerations before you decide to speak up.
First, the cranial brain might ask, “Is it safe to speak up?” That could mean physical harm, but with most decisions about speaking up, the question is usually, “Will I be wrong?” or “Will I be laughed at?” or “Will somebody (even one person) not think my speaking up was a good idea?” It isn’t the fear of speaking up that stops most people; it’s the fear of it not turning out optimally for them. Maybe the boss won’t like your idea. Maybe the mom in the department store will start screaming at you to mind your own business and people will start staring at you as if you did something wrong. Your cranial brain might just whisper, “Hey, mind your own business and all will be well.” That may be the case…for you. Staying silent often removes you from any possibility of being wrong or looked at or, really anything. There is a downside, though. It’s that gnawing feeling in the pit of your stomach that maybe you should have stepped in or raised your hand and just opened your mouth to speak.
That gnawing feeling is coming from your gut-brain. Your gut-brain is the center of all intuition. That “gut feeling” you have is a real intelligence that most of us rarely act on. It is also where courage resides. It’s why we feel butterflies in our stomach before we have to do something that requires courage. What if you trusted that gut-brain more than your cranial brain? Then there is the heart brain, the center of emotion and feeling. What if we listened to and followed our heart more often when it comes to speaking up? What might be possible in our lives and the world?
What, we have three brains? Yes! Neuroscience has discovered that the heart and gut-brain send more signals to the cranial brain than the other way around.
What if we aligned all three brains in an instant and let the trio make the decision?
What if intuition and feeling were the front runners in any decision and logic was just a distant third?
If we did that, I think a few things might happen in the world. First, more people would be tapping into their humanity and speaking up when they see something in the world that doesn’t align with what they feel is right and good and just. Second, they might just find themselves living a life of no regrets. Sure, they might be wrong in front of colleagues if they think they have the right answer, but they don’t. Here’s a funny thing, though. I think that inclination to raise your hand in that meeting means that intuitively you know that you do have the right answer or the great idea, but by the time you win the argument with your cranial brain, someone else in the room has had that same idea, raised their hand, and is now in line for the next promotion because the boss thinks they are brilliant.
For those who aren’t used to speaking up, it is a good idea to just pick a place where you will start practicing.
Speaking up is a muscle that needs to be worked out regularly before it feels comfortable to you. I promise you if you exercise that muscle and stand up and speak, or raise your hand and answer, or step in and speak with your actions when you see something that just looks wrong, you will get better at it and you will be on your way to living a life of no regrets. You just might save a life in the process.
Linda-Marie Miller is a Professional International Speaker, ICF Certified Coach, and Transformational Trainer. She is the author of the “Champions of Change®” Training Program the soon-to-be-published book “Pretending Not to Know™”. You can connect with her and begin living a “Life of No Regrets” yourself by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org