I must admit, I was skeptical when I first picked up Fearne Cotton’s Speak Your Truth. Although I’d heard of her other books — Happy, Calm, and Quiet— I still thought of Cotton as the Radio 1 presenter and TV show host. But five pages in, she mentioned her decade-long interest in yoga alongside some knowledge of Hindu tradition and chakras and I became more invested.
Cotton’s interest in ‘speaking her truth’ was sparked following a throat cyst diagnosis, expected surgery, and the following two weeks of not being able to talk. She writes about her belief that the body manifests unspoken thoughts physically and, as the ‘throat canal is the channel to all of our expression’, she began considering where in her life she’d been holding back.
In the eight limbs of yoga, Yama, the first limb, teaches prohibitions, morals, and discipline. This limb includes Satya meaning non-lying – in other words, truthfulness. Cotton is no ultimate yogi, but her book is like chatting to a friend about how truth comes up in our everyday lives and considers how we sometimes feel unable to be wholly honest.
Cotton uses personal anecdotes to explain how being speaking your truth doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve been lying, rather that you may have been withholding emotions or actions. One instance is where she replies to a message from a school mum believing it was sent privately when in fact it was part of the ‘WHOLE CLASS group’ chat. Her message read…
‘Thanks so much for the invite, lovely. I can’t make it though because I’m taking Rex and a few of the lads from the class bowling for his birthday. I can’t be doing with this invite-the-whole-class-to-the-party thing anymore.’
Initially, she panics that all the mums will hate her. She freaks out to her husband who simply says ‘Who cares?’. Cotton realises that, though unintentionally, she’s just been completely truthful. She even considers that her actions may be a good thing –
‘Maybe some of the other mums will breathe a sigh of relief that the pressures off inviting the whole class to their kid’s party?’
Cotton acknowledges that not all of her experiences are relatable — not many of us were fifteen-year-old TV presenters. But many of her anecdotes are things we’ve all experienced in some form. She talks about partying in her early twenties when she wasn’t really sure she wanted to, and dying her hair different colours to try and fit in. She writes about a failed engagement and incompatibility in relationships. She explains how she made career choices that weren’t right for her and the impact this had on her mental health. She tells readers about being a mother and step-mother and navigating family dynamics.
She comes to realise that speaking up is usually far less damaging to others than we believe it will be – either they don’t care or they get over it. You often end up doing more damage to yourself by bottling up the truth. Speak Your Truth is an easy-read but remains thought-provoking – it’s the perfect read for these peculiar times.