Until you can listen to and respect what matters to you, others won't listen to you nor respect you
It sucks, doesn’t it when you know what is the right thing to do or say and nobody takes you seriously? Or when you take a stand for something that truly matters and people don’t really ‘get’ you? You want your voice be heard, but ...
As a Woman, I know I have not been heard nor respected for a big part of my life and often ended up swallowing what I really wanted to say. It always left me feeling constipated with a belly filled with unspoken, undigested words. You may recognize this as discomfort and tightness in your body.
Boy, have we ever been conditioned to compromise, please and agree with others just so we would fit in and be like everyone else.
Fitting in is out, fitting out is in
I have chosen to change the game and make ‘fitting out’ the ‘new fitting in.’ A big part of that change for me was to learn to listen to my Heart and speak what was true for me, regardless…
Still learning - still refining.
Like with any new language, learning to speak from your Heart and its deeper wisdom takes time. But it is essential if you want to make your voice be heard. By practicing it consistently with others you’ll eventually become fluent in this Heart-language, but for awhile it's going to feel and sound unnatural.
I want to share 5 essential first steps with you to build a foundation from where you can make your voice heard. There’s a reason we lost our voice and now we’re hiding behind a veneer of niceness, compromising and pleasing others, while our true voice is pressed down into the garbage can of unexpressed emotions.
We don’t have to fit in anymore. Fitting out is the new ‘in.’ Let’s start moving out of the norm and explore who we really are underneath that veneer.
Listen to and honor what truly matters to you to make your voice heard
In order to express yourSelf with confidence and clarity to others so they will respect you, the most important step before anything else is to learn to listen to and respect what truly matters to you. Yes ... beautifully amazing you! That can be quite a challenging step, but it's the strong foundation we lost back when, and without it there is no ground to stand on. You may have heard the quote “If you don’t stand for something, you'll fall for anything" (Irene Dunne, Alexander Hamilton, Peter Marshall, and others). We’ve been so deeply conditioned to suppress our needs, wants and longings that we don’t have anything solid to stand on and now we keep falling for what other’s stand on. Getting in touch with what truly matters to you takes a little digging and it’s not going to be obvious on your first try. I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard someone say: “I don’t know what I want, I just know I don’t want this.”
That makes it hard to make your voice heard!
It’s very different to express what you do want as opposed to what you don’t want. There's power, clarity and intention behind it, which is an energy that can move mountains.
I don’t know about you, but when I grew up nobody really cared about what I wanted or what mattered to me. I was told to do as I was told! End of story. Obviously it took me a long time to get back in touch with what mattered to me. Luckily it never left - it was just hiding behind the veneer of compromise.
These age old patterns of trying to fit in are so deeply ingrained and conditioned in us that we barely know who we are anymore. Learning to speak up and find your true voice is a mighty task. If you are anything like me, you probably learned to either shut up and/or make yourself very loud and lost your true voice somewhere in the middle.
So it starts with you being sensitive and curious to what truly matters to you and make it a daily practice to pay attention to what you feel and what you want with an open, loving attitude. Your authentic Self communicates with you through your feelings of longing and desire, your needs, preferences, wisdom and deepest values. They are the ‘mouth-peace’ of the Divine and through them you can make your voice be heard. By paying attention to these feelings you’ll be fine-tuning your listening skills and connect with what was hiding behind the veneer.
It’s totally OK for you to feel what you want
It’s totally OK for you to want what you want. Yup!
Find or create a Circle of Women to practice finding your true Voice
We need each other in order to successfully become ourSelves. Part of why we’ve tried to fit in, is that we are biologically wired to belong. We need each other to survive and thrive and there is a reason that we are many and are not meant to live alone and be all self reliant. We thrive on each other’s feedback, support and cheerleading and it helps us feel more OK about ‘fitting out’ instead of the familiar ‘fitting in.’
Have you noticed how easily you doubt yourself when nobody outside of you confirms or agrees with you?
Have you noticed how good it feels when someone acknowledges you and gives you good feedback and support?
I have found it so much easier to trust myself, when I surround myself with like-Hearted Women who can reflect back to me what I feel, sense, intuit and know.
Doing this inner exploration with a group of Heart-Peers will help you enter into a space of safety and support that’s hard to come by out in a world conditioned to fit in. It helps you have your voice be heard again.
I’d suggest you start with a small group of 4-8 like-Hearted Women. This group will be your anchor of support and truth-telling and help you succeed. I have seen so many Women believe they need to be able to do it on their own and all that does is keep them isolated, separate and lonely. Learning to be vulnerable and real with each other may be one of the most powerful things we can do. It shows us it’s OK to be different and that we are not ‘one size fits all.’
Before you start a Circle to support each other have your voice be heard, make sure you set some solid ground rules that everyone agrees to abide by:
Respect each others differences
make sure everyone has equal time to share
share from your own experience
be a good listener
practice being vulnerable
build bridges - not walls
be willing to learn from each other by being open to new ideas and viewpoints
make up new rules as needed
Practice your new behaviors of ‘not trying to fit in’
When you find or create your Circle of support, you enter into a space where you can explore new ways of speaking your truth and have your voice be heard. Practice saying ‘no’ without backing down - feel what it's like to disagree - express your needs and wants or simply give yourself permission to not quite know what you want yet. All while accepting each other for trying out something new, fumbling, stumbling, exploring! You’ll eventually learn that it’s safe here to express the parts of you that had been suppressed or disowned in order for you to feel loved. Fulfillment can only happen by fully Being You. Pretending that you are not you is a dead-end road
I'd suggest to start in the Circle sharing your dreams, desires, fears and feelings without the need to excuse, justify or defend. That is a big step. Make sure to stay true to yourself and share only what feels within the safe zone. This is how you find out when you would normally push beyond what feels natural and when you shrink down from what is true for you. These are beginning steps to have your voice be heard.
It's normal to feel a little awkward at first when you start practicing just Being yourSelf. You have full permission to feel awkward, to totally fuck up, completely fail and feel like a phony while practicing. Take as much time as you need until the real you begins to emerge. She is in there somewhere!
You can’t force this process, however, you can allow its unfolding, and frankly, I don’t think you’ll get to Be fully you without f’ing up along the way. It’s a natural part of the process. Enjoy it!
Start taking small risks
Your group is a powerful place to take those risks because you all agree to learn and grow together. You agree to make it safe here to expand and 'fit out.' Use this group to practice saying things to each other that are challenging. The group will give you feed back how they perceive you. Do you speak from your power? From fear? Anger? Too loud? Too soft? Give each other suggestions how you can say it differently in order to stay in your power and be respected. Is your voice being heard?
When you start feeling more comfortable with each other, you can even take on little assignments outside of the group. Imagine what it would feel like to say ‘no’ to your boss in an empowered way, knowing that you are being backed up by your Circle? What would it feel like to know you are not bad or wrong if you stop compromising something that you know is not right for you? Imagine having your voice be heard by your boss!! And then meeting with each other afterwards to celebrate your new experience!
One way to start a conversation from an empowered place could be:
“There is something I would like to share with you, would you be open to that? If yes: Is now a good time or is there a time that works better for you?” This way you empower the other person too and you give them the opportunity to agree or not. The door is now open… There is already a better chance for your voice to be heard.
Then speak from your own experience with ‘I statements.’ Do your best to NOT tell the other person what they are doing wrong or what you don’t want. Instead practice saying what is important to you and what outcome you are hoping for. Keep it short and sweet with plenty of space for the other person too. Check in with them during your practice time and ask how it lands inside of them. Do they still feel open to hearing what you want to say? Or are they closing down because they feel they are being made wrong? Is your voice being heard?
Remember saying what you want and not what you don’t want.
The purpose of practicing with each other is that you start getting a new ‘felt sense’ inside of what it feels like to be empowered, authentic and have your voice heard all at the same time. This feeling will eventually become your empowered ‘resting place’ inside that you’ll speak from independently of other people’s opinions. Now you ‘stand for something’ that you can actually feel, so you won’t fall down and leave what truly matters to you.
Get to know ‘your inner bitch’ when you practice speaking your truth
Don’t think you are going to perfect these new verbal skills overnight. You’ll very likely make quite some blunders and even offend people along the way. I don’t think there’s any way around that. So why not give yourself permission to sound a little bitchy until you find your real voice. That’s what the Circle is for.
As Women we’ve had to swallow a lot of things that were not appropriate to say in the past. We all carry a lot of suppressed energy inside that needs to be released. No wonder it comes out a little ‘bitchy’ at first. Suppressing your truth doesn't make it go away, does it. Your truth and what matters to you is part of the authentic you and not separate from you. So there is no real bitch in there, however, there is a natural energy that needs to be released. It’s helpful to get to know (and appreciate) this suppressed part that justifiably has a lot to say as she is crawling out from under the veneer of niceness.
This Circle is not about being nice. Fuck that! You are learning to be authentic and releasing this stuck energy is very authentic. Once you learn to speak in your safe Circle, you release some of the ‘bitchy energy’ that normally would get you in trouble outside of your Circle. It’s just a matter of time, so keep practicing until you can speak it without the extra charge. Not that there is anything wrong with this charge. It’s just that most people won’t hear nor respect what you say when your words are infused with this bitchy energy. So if you want to have your voice be heard, releasing this charge will help you a lot to achieve your goal. The ‘old world’ that we tried to fit into will do anything to keep us complacent and 'nice.' Being called a bitch has shut up a lot of Women in the past. So make sure you chose a safe place to liberate this energy in a loving and supportive way.
Anger is a potent energy to break down the walls and veneer that we’ve all been hiding behind. If you have been nice all of your life, get in touch with the one inside who’s had enough of that role and give her some lovin’. She needs it. From you and from the group.
Use your Circle to be bitchy, angry and loud as a way to uncover and make room for the real you. It sure feels good to speak the f word, be real mean and bitchy for awhile as you are breaking through. Let yourself enjoy the contrast from being Ms Nice to being Ms Bitch in the safe setting of the Circle until you start feeling like yourSelf.
A little tip: If you came out a little too bitchy, you can always say: Oops, let me try that again! I am learning to speak from a more authentic place, and I’m not very fluent at it yet. Please allow me to say it without that ‘excess’ energy. Laugh at yourself and try again. Do you think that will help you have your voice be heard? Me too.
I think these steps are plenty to start with. Once you get them ‘under your tongue’ your true Voice will feel connected to your authentic, empowered Self, who’s patiently waiting to come all the way out.
When I learned the practice of Hakomi Therapy, it really did feel like learning a whole new language. Hakomi is based on mindfulness, non-violence, mind-body connection, unity and organicity – not exactly what I was brought up with!
I practiced with my peers, worked privately with Hakomi therapists and spent a lot of time in supervision groups. Slowly I started incorporating these principles not only in my private practice, but in all of my life. As with any other language, I can always improve and learn more, which has made this new language a life long practice that I’ve come to Love. As a Self Love Mentor, it’s obvious that these principles need to be incorporated in ourSelves first.
This article was originally published at Divine Feminine Flow. Reprinted with permission from the author.