Is your voice in hiding?

It’s no secret we all have a voice, but for many women, their voice is far too censored and silent.

Being able to express yourself authentically to others isn't easy. Many women hold back what they really think and feel for fear of being judged by others.

There are many reasons why you may struggle to speak your truth to others. 

Perhaps as a child:

  • it wasn’t safe to share your opinion, so you learnt to stay quiet.
  • when you joined family conversations, you weren't taken seriously.
  • you were valued more for your looks than what you said.
  • who you were or how you behaved wasn't acceptable in your family.
  • you learnt if you don't say the "right" thing, you will get punished or rejected.
  • you were an introvert in a family of extroverts.
  • there was too much chaos or conflict in your home to get a word in.

Whatever the circumstances, when you're rarely heard and seen by the people you love, sometimes the only option from a child's perspective is to stop trying to say much of worth.

Gradually you retreat until your voice becomes invisible.

Sure you may still say a lot of words, but your truth is hidden from those words. And possibly even from yourself.

One of the hardest things in life is having words in your heart that you can’t utter.
— James Earl Jones

In childhood we're all too dependent on our parents/caregivers to fully recognise when a person influencing us is being unfair, misguided, self-centred, sexist, narcissistic, too busy or overwhelmed to notice, or {fill in the blank of your situation}.

Often they did the best they could with the level of awareness they had. 

So whilst you did what you had to do when you were small, you’re not small anymore. 

It doesn’t serve you as an adult to continue censoring or silencing your truth.

Your voice is an instrument of immense power.

It has the power to show others the truth of who you are. Your deepest essence. 

You can't show up fully to others or yourself if who you are is zipped shut

When you find your voice, others get to see who you really are for the first time. And you get to express who you are.

It’s that important. You give yourself the ultimate gift when you proudly own who you are.

Many women are so used to hiding or swallowing what's true for them, they think it’s normal.

It’s not normal. It’s devastating.

It impacts your confidence, your self-esteem and makes you doubt yourself and your worth.

There's no question your voice matters

You have something worthwhile to say. We all do.

When you find your true voice you’ll be surprised at how much truth is banked up within you that wants expression.

So how do you reclaim your voice?

Like anything worthwhile it's a process that takes time and patience. There isn't a neatly prescribed set of steps that will work for everyone. That's because your history, conditioning and experience is unique to you. 

Your body is the most intelligent and wisest guide for showing you what needs attention, through your feelings, sensations, reactions, behaviour and even dreams. The best advice I can give you is to adopt the attitude of a curious scientist towards your inner experience, especially when you're with others. When an issue becomes too uncomfortable to ignore, that's your body's signal it's ready to be dealt with.

Here are some general pointers that may assist you with further reflection. 

  1. Awareness is key. Recognise if you hide your truth from others and then decide what you want to do about it. You’ll know if it's bothering you, based on how you feel reading these words.
     
  2. Unmet needs.  Observe if you have a strong need to be seen, heard and validated by others. Not being seen is often a core missing piece that led to hiding your voice in the first place.
     
  3. Self-awareness. Pay attention to what you experience inside your body (your reaction) in every conversation you have with others. Notice how you feel when you're with them. The level of tension in your throat, neck, chest and shoulders. Especially when you have an urge to say something but don't because you're uncomfortable, afraid it will sound silly or won't come out right.
     
  4. Refocus on you. Notice how much you focus on how others might perceive you and work on focusing your attention on what you want to say. 
     
  5. Practice. Speak your truth as often as you can, starting with someone safe (like a trusted friend). It might start haltingly, it might be deeply uncomfortable. But you have to start somewhere.

As with any new level of awareness, you may feel anger and grief at discovering how much you have held back and how invisible you have been to yourself and to others. It can be a very painful sense of loss. Know this is a very common wound for women. Still.

Above all, please be kind to yourself and try not to judge where you are at. It takes time to find your voice again, but every ounce of effort in reclaiming it will pay you back a lifetime over with stronger relationships and a stronger sense of self. 

Have you hidden your voice from the world?  Please share your comments below.