Happiness is not a station you arrive at, but a manner of traveling. – Margaret Lee Runbeck
Do you ever feel like you’ve cheated yourself – sacrificed your wants, needs and values – by lying about how you feel? Perhaps for someone else’s sake? How often have you wanted to say NO but instead responded with YES to please others?
It might be last-minute babysitting, staying late at work to cover a colleague’s mistake or it could be ignoring your nagging desire to get some exercise on a Saturday afternoon because your partner really wants to see the latest blockbuster.
In our world of dualities, it seems like there is always a choice – yes or no, good or bad, right or wrong – and there is always other people bombarding us with their answers.
So how do you determine your answer?
Find Your Voice
Most likely, you already know your answer; you just haven’t found the courage to own your answer. Maybe you’re confidence is low and so it seems easier just to say what others want to hear. Maybe you’re anxious to tell the world what you think, but you’re afraid of the consequences. Whatever the reason, you’re keeping your opinions quiet, it’s not good enough to silence you.
- You are the master of your mind, body and soul.
- You are the decision-maker.
- Your opinions matter, and you have the right to express them.
Also, don’t confuse your genuine voice with your inner critic. The inner critic is the voice in our heads that tells us we’re not good enough — but that voice is not your true voice. Don’t listen to the voice telling you that you’re not worthy of making decisions or having opinions. Replace those feelings with conviction and esteem. Now you can become a better you — a vocal you.
Make Yourself Heard.
Now that you know what you believe, share it with others. This may be as simple as sitting down with your boss for a heart-to-heart or sending an email to a larger group of friends addressing an issue or topic you’ve been avoiding bringing up. With the conviction that your voice is worthy of being heard, you can confidently enter the arena to share what you feel. Be your guru. Make your decisions. Honor your voice.
As you do so, remember that honoring your feelings and expressing yourself is not the same thing as being right. Part of speaking up is listening to the response. Being open to others’ opinions and feelings in no way lessens the value of your contribution; if anything, it increases it. Bring your thoughts to the table, but be willing to listen and to knowingly, actively compromise (which isn’t the same thing as giving in).
A Client’s Story
I have a client, I will call her Diane, who went through 2 husbands before she found her voice. She could not ask for what she needed and agreed to anything that either of her husbands wanted. She had totally lost her power. One morning she woke up feeling empty, scared and depressed. She began to notice that she could never ask for what she needed. However, a small voice woke her up and told her that her voice mattered and she mattered. Needless to say, she took action. She left her 2nd husband to embark on her inner journey to find herself and several years later she still is unfolding like a caterpillar into a butterfly feeling freedom to say and ask for what she needs. I am so proud of her because her having a voice already has inspired her daughter and other friends/relatives of hers. One healed being helps others heal as well.
This example is just a snapshot of how one person stands up for herself.
In a world full of voices, how do you find and honor your own?
Do you catch yourself making decisions based on pleasing others, before you ask yourself what you really want and need?
How do you ground yourself when making tough choices?
How do you honor your voice?