04 Feb Reclaim Your Voice
A common experience in childhood was that our voice was silenced by the adults around us. You may come from the “children should be seen but not heard” generation, or been raised with the notion that “children should not speak until spoken to”. You may even been told at one point to stop crying or you would be given something to cry about (that one never made sense to me when I heard it as a child!).
Often times, children’s voices are not heard, their opinions are ignored and their ideas are invalidated by the adults around them. The internalized message then is that their voice has no value and they have no power. Their voice is silenced and they learn that there is no point in speaking up or speaking out. They go silent. Unless something happens to alter this internalized message, the child carries these beliefs into adulthood and becomes unable to express him/herself fully and effectively.
It brings to mind the movie “Home”, where the chief carries around a staff that he calls the “Shusher”. Any time one of the community members questions him or speaks out in any way, he bops them on the head with it and says “shush!”, thus silencing their voices and preventing them and others from speaking out.
It may seem like such a small thing, but the consequences on a person are immense and they carry over into the collective. Think about it – how many people do you know that do not bother to get involved politically or to vote because they believe that their vote doesn’t matter?
Has your voice been silenced in some way? Are you able to speak out in the workplace, in your community or in your relationships? Or do you feel somewhere deep inside you that you have no voice and no one will listen?
Chances are your voice has been silenced in some way during your life – by parents, teachers, peers, bosses, clergy, the media, or politicians.
Look at your daily interactions and notice situations and experiences where you want to speak up about something but stop yourself. It may be as small as not saying where you want to go for dinner or as big as witnessing an injustice and not speaking out. Take notice of how you silence your voice.
I invite you to reclaim your voice starting today!
- Simply practice vocalizing. Make noise, talk, shout, sing … allow sound to flow from you. It may feel silly or uncomfortable at first – do it anyway. Through this, you open your throat and enable more energy to move through your voice. It’s a bit like doing curls to strengthen the muscles in your arms.
- Start looking for and taking advantage of opportunities to speak up. Start with some minor situations to begin strengthening your muscles. For example, a friend invites you out for lunch and you are really not up for it, practice saying “Thank you, but no, I am not able to join you today” (you can say why if you choose, or not). Start small and build from there.
- Pay attention to how your body responds to your experiences. Notice when your body gets tense or you begin to feel anxious or uncomfortable. Then ask yourself – what is happening right now that is causing me to react? Give voice to what it is that is causing the tension.
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