Reposted from previous blog. Original post from May 24, 2016
Recently, I had a moment in which I realized that I had been denying my inner voice. It came suddenly and fiercely. Long story short, I had been dating someone that I was passionately attracted to, and yet knew there was something off. On a daily basis I had been shoving down that voice that said, “This isn’t right”. I wanted so desperately for things to be perfect between us. Reality was far from that—and no matter who told me what, until I was ready to see it, it didn’t matter. He ended our relationship in an incredibly painful way, and even in that moment of visceral ache, I was released. Released from this incredibly denial and dishonesty that I had been prioritizing for 18 months. I was able to start to step into this place of authenticity and truth. I want nothing more than to take this lesson and spread it like gospel. Please know that I understand the pain associated with stepping into your truth, and I also know the light.
I actually had a totally different introduction to this post, and it seemed less than authentic to begin from a place of authority. I am human just like you; I cry, I bleed, I love and I learn. I wanted to share this with you to start from a universal truth, that we are all in process. I can speak from a place of expertise, yet also from a place of student (and life just handed me a elephant sized lesson…thanks life :)).
The way I integrate this lesson with my clients is that I askthem to honor how “not knowing” or ignoring their voice has served her up until now. I come from the belief that all our actions and belief start from a positive intention, and we must recognize what that is! Often, coping skills or defense mechanism do serve us, and then, at some point can become destructive or unhelpful.
An example of this is passive aggressive communication. Passive aggressive means that you say something in order to avoid a conflict, however you are desperately wanting the other person to understand your frustration, anger or fear. Where I come from (Minnesota), this is the “normal” way to communicate, and anything outside this realm is considered rude, abrasive and unacceptable. The positive intention is to keep the peace, to manage and have happy relationships. Unfortunately, the result is the exact opposite! I cannot tell you how many people I’ve seen in therapy wanting to improve relationships, set boundaries and feel more congruent with their inner and outer message because of this pervasive style of communication.
My goal and advice in each of these moments that clients come to me is the same: use your voice. Start slowly and begin to get familiar with what is in your heart; what is it that you actually want to communicate? What are you actually needing from yourself and those around you? What is your fear in embracing your truth? Begin to ask these questions and your brain will start the retrieval process for the answers (crazy, right)?
Often, our fear in embracing our voice, saying our truth, stating our needs, is that:
- We could possibly upset someone else and then their view of us will change
- As women, we will be seen as bitchy, rude, unlikeable or abrasive,
- It is not okay to ask for your needs to be met; you will be labeled as selfish, which apparently is a punishable offense.
I want you to start to challenge some of these inner beliefs; are these really serving you? How might life be better if you stated what was really on your mind? How might your relationships improve if you allowed people to know the real you? How might your mental, spiritual and physical health improve if you started to ask for what you need and then allow it to enter your life?
I can tell you from personal and professional experience that relationships can grow exponentially through conflict. And not aggressive fighting, yet dialogue and allowing someone to know you, challenge you and encourage you to see something from a different perspective. How many times in your life has someone given you feedback that has shifted your perspective and made you a more productive, loving, kind person? Do you remember the gratitude and excitement you felt with this new revelation? Connect with this and allow yourself to engage more frequently with real discussions with the people you care about.
Below are 5 easy, fun and achievable ways to start to use your voice, because your words, thoughts, feelings and desires are so important! Don’t let one more day pass where your voice is unheard!
If you are angry, upset or frustrated with someone, speak out loud the words you would say to them. I often will tell clients to get it out in their car, in their bathroom in front of their mirror or when they are by themselves, where they don’t have to edit one single word. The point of this is not to actually cultivate your message, but to allow your emotions out! Let yourself say the things that you might NEVER actually say to that person. Engage with your feelings, so that you can come closer to a balanced message when you actually talk to this person.
Get familiar with your emotions! Ask yourself “What am I feeling right now” and then LISTEN! Make efforts to understand your patterns of emotions and then record them in a journal or a note on your phone. Once you start to notice what feelings are coming up frequently, you can find ways to process them and approach the situation differently.
Redefine the word “selfish”. I cannot tell you how much I despise this word; it is shaming and denies people (mostly women) the most imperative self care that they need. Self care is what we all need to move through this world; the things that give us energy, fill up our bucket and allow us to show up as the best versions of ourselves. I want you to pick one thing that you would have previously defined as selfish and do it anyways. This could mean, making your favorite dinner (even if you partner doesn’t like it), going to yoga in the middle of the work day, buying that purse that you’ve been eyeing, going out to brunch with your girlfriends, spending an hour a week in meditation or journaling. Replenish your spirit and you will be able to offer the world 10-fold what you think you’re capable of.
Schedule a difficult conversation. We all have that one (or maybe 5) people that we’ve been putting off an uncomfortable conversation with. Stop delaying and text them immediately to meet for coffee, a drink or a Skype date. Write out what you want to say to them and always come from a place of love. Use “I” statements to diffuse any defensiveness. Be ready and able to own your own shit. Remember the goal is to use your voice; if the relationship also improves that is a beautiful bonus. It will not be easy, but nothing worthwhile ever was. It is worth it and you will remember that feeling going forward-it will ripple out and allow you to have more authentic, vulnerable and valuable relationships with people you love.
Reestablish or reconnect with your identity. When was the last time that you really thought about who you are as a person? What are your values, your desires, your goals, your fears, your losses? If someone asked you, “who are you?”, what would your response be? Spend 10 minutes a day for the next week journaling about these 7 topics:
- The Biggest Dream I Could Possibly Dream Is…
- What I Want for My Future Is…
I cannot wait to have you get started on these amazing steps towards rediscovering your TRUE voice! Believe me when I say, I am walking this journey too and will share my trials and victories. Take the chance to be happy and connect with the truth that you, and everyone, holds within themselves.
Be Well My Friends,