Don't abdicate your voice...

Don't abdicate your voice...

I saw this and it made me think how so many of  us fail to use our voice.  Our voice, which can be so powerful, like the voice of Dr. Martin Luther King, which moved people to have sit-ins and boycotts.  Our voice which can be so moving, like when your child says, “I love you” it makes your heart melt, no matter how angry they may have made you.  The voice of a mother who says, “Baby it’s going to be okay," and they believe her.  

Our voice can move someone to tears, motivate some to act, scare someone or even terrify them, “I will kill you if you do that again”.  A voice can punish and hurt, “I HATE you”.  Our voice has so much power it amazes me why so many of us choose to quiet our voice or we use our voice in a way that is destructive.  We use our voice to speak negatively to ourselves and negatively to others.  We use our voice to provoke war instead of peace, anger instead of joy. 

They say the number one killer of a relationship is the lack of communication, yet so many are in relationships where they won’t say what they need in order to get their needs met. People in a relationship quiet their voice because they don’t want to hear what the other person has to say in response.  There are people who quiet their voice because they fear negative consequences or they fear the power they know their voice has to push people away.  People quiet their voices because they have NOT learned to manage its affect.  If you knew how to temper your  voice and use its power to its full potential you be a force to recon with.  A few words, in the right tone can so empowering.  I love you, I love me, I am awesome, I will protect you, I am free, I am not ashamed, I am grateful, I am special, today is going to be an awesome day, today was an awesome day; or, you are awesome and great;I respect you.  

Using your voice can be scary.  I think the caption on the picture says it.  Speak the truth even if your voice shakes.  What does this mean to you?  What it means to mean is that even when something may be difficult to say, it still needs to be said.  Our biggest fear is not what we want to say but how it will be received.  When we sense something will be hard to received for someone else we tend to quiet our voice and stuff those thoughts.  When we stuff those thoughts we stuff our feelings.  When we stuff feelings we are in the process of building a keg that will either explode or implode.  Imploding looks like anxiety, fear, somatic symptoms, stress, etc.  Exploding looks like somatic symptoms, anger, frustration, acne, violence, etc.  

When we learn to use our voice with respect, thoughtfulness, and sincerity, and the truth is always at the heart of the matter then we begin to realize what true freedom is.  When we begin to feel free we begin to own our true self and we begin to embrace self love and true happiness.  As long as you continue to quiet  your voice because of fear of hurting someone’s feelings, fear of not being accepted, fear of not being understood, fear of being ostracized, fear of being told “NO” then you will never truly know your true self or own your true power.  

True story:

I had a client who wanted to tell her mom how she felt about all the terrible things that happen to her when she was a child, which she deemed to be mom’s fault.  This client was aware that this would cause her mother some emotional discomfort, even pain.  She tried several times to bring up the subject but mom would find ways to avoid the conversation.  Because she was unable to speak to her mother directly she shared this information to someone she thought she trusted on the job.  Oh, did I forget to mention that she and mom worked on the same job.  The person whom she thought she could trust disclosed this information to mom.  Needless, to say the strained relationship became that much more strained to the point that they were not speaking to each other.

As a therapist, I immediately thought this was an unintentional intention.  My client had run out of ways to try to communicate with mom and unconsciously she did not care how she knew about her pain she just wanted mom to know.  Therefore, she abdicated her voice to her co-worker.   After processing this in session my client decided to write mom a letter and invite mom to her session so that she could read the letter to her.   She decided to regain her power and use her own voice so that she share what she was feeling to mom in the way she intended it to be communicated.  Her goal was to use her voice to communicate to mom in a way that mom would be able to receive the information she so badly wanted to share. She wanted to communicate with love, respect and kindness.

In session my client read her letter to mom.  Because the letter was prewritten, she had an opportunity to write and rewrite, making sure that there were no judgements in her statements about mom. She stated the facts as she knew them and then stated her feelings as she felt then and how it made her feel since then.  Mom cried as she listened to some of the more difficult parts; however, she listened while the whole letter was read.  While reading my client had opportunities to reiterate some parts or explain other parts that could have been misconstrued.   At the end of the letter mom made no apologies for what she did but she did apologize for how she made her daughter feel.  Mom also stated that she had no idea the impact of her behaviors had on her as a child.  Mom also had no idea that her daughter’s perceptions were so different from her own.  

So many clients say, “I don’t have to tell him, he knows how I feel”.  “They know what they did; how would they feel”.   “I don’t want to rehash the past”.   Yet, they rehash it everyday in their minds.  “There is no point; nothing will change”.  This could be true but again there should be no expectation for another person to change based on what you said, though we know that people do change from a single word spoken at the right time, in the right tone, by the right person, we still cannot have that expectation.  When you decide to speak a “hard truth” (something you know will be difficult to receive) to a person you are doing it more for yourself then you are for them.  Your reality may not be their reality, so they may totally disagree with everything you said; however, at the end of the day once you say it, it helps in releasing and be able to reconcile it within yourself.  You feel a little freer because you drew the strength to say what was hard to say.  

Learning to use your voice in a thoughtful and truthful manner is an art and a science.  It is not to be taken lightly or assumed that everything one thinks should be said.  Being thoughtful and considerate must be paramount.  The old adage, “ Treat others how you want to be treated” is so true. When you decide to tell someone a “hard truth” remember that it is as much for your own benefit as it is for the person you speak to.  So speak to that person in the same manner you would want someone to speak it to you use consideration, kindness, and love, even if you don’t know the person that well. Practice love and courage in all you do because it will help you to make the right decision in those difficult moments.