Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Finding My Voice

On the topic of learning to speak up for ourselves....from the archives (7/23/10)

Below is a brief article that I had posted in my "Notes" section in my Facebook account this week....

This past week I posted an article on my blog with a comment about "finding my voice" which for trauma survivors can be a scary thing to do.

Add to this the uncertainty of "who am I" that comes with that sense of powerlessness that I had no "power" in my own life - and I had the perfect mix for being a "people pleaser", afraid to speak up for or to even consider that I had a right to not like what was or had happened to me because in the past, to do so was not allowed.

I knew I had to start somewhere - but I was so afraid of conflict of any sort that I would begin to shake and panic even at the IDEA of speaking up about what I wanted, needed or to voice an emphatic "NO" to someone who I viewed to be more powerful than I was.

So - I began with finding my voice in places where there was no personal entanglement...asking for this table instead of that table at the restaurant, telling someone "this isn't a good time" instead of taking a phone call when I was doing something else...understanding that I did not need to explain my thoughts, feelings or actions to anyone, that I did not have to constantly be apologizing.

With practice I developed the confidence to be able to start speaking up for myself more often and I felt less dependent on others to offer solutions to the problems that were the focus of my life, that I felt powerless and hopeless to change.

In time I was able to see that I WAS powerful, that I truly did hold the power to affect change in my life and establish boundaries with others - including within the interpersonal relationships that were the most frightening because I was in such fear of being abandoned again.

And - in the end, I did say good bye to some relationships where my newfound assertiveness was not honored...

and I also discovered new friendships and am building relationships based on trust, compassion and true caring that is mutual instead of my self sacrificing that left me as "less than".

In learning to find my voice I was able to add one more life skill that empowered me to conquer the anxiety that held me prisoner and make that shift from feeling so insignificant to truly knowing that I held value

for no other reason thanI exist.

Here is a link to the story connected to the photo at the top of this post. This article was written for the Washington Post by a young person who had the challenge to discover their own voice...

Over at Heal My PTSD Michele Rosenthal has an immense collection of works related to the healing journey; here's just one on the idea of learning to speak our own truth.


Q: What steps have you taken that have fueled your journey to finding your own voice, speaking your own "truth"?

If you found value in this post...please tell me in the comments below and consider sharing the link!


Laura Marcella said...

"...understanding that I did not need to explain my thoughts, feelings or actions to anyone, that I did not have to constantly be apologizing."

So true! Women especially feel the need to justify their feelings and actions and apologize for every little thing. Men rarely do this! It's an admirable quality about them. My husband began pointing out times I say, "I'm sorry" and asks me why the heck I'm apologizing. And I don't know, lol! So I've been working on not saying I'm sorry for every little thing.

Susan said...

Thats terrific insight Laura! I love the way you point out how men seem to possess this quality intrinsically and women seem to have to develop this skill.

It was hard to "catch" myself in the beginning but as I did...in time I realized that this seemed to stem from that need for external validation that what ever I had done or said was "ok" or "right enough". In time though I was able to learn to recognize that in myself and remind "me" that it is ok to think and act of my own volition.

So you go, Laura! Let us know if you have any "tips" on how you "catch" yourself in this process and make that change each time!

Anonymous said...

This is reinforcing exactly what i am working on right now. Finding my voice within all the PTSD 'static' has been a challenge but not impossible. There is no shame in my game :-) Thanks Susan!


Susan said...

I love the way you put that Mel! Perfect!

rawmamma said...

Thanks for this! It allows me to know I'm not the only one on this journey. I feel up until the past year or two I have been a mute people pleaser. Always apologizing, as I saw it as a way toward humility. But then I began to see a pattern throughout many points in my life, where I allowed others to victimize me.

I'm learning to speak out, now. Sometimes it's beautiful, sometimes messy. But I feel much more empowered:)

Susan said...

rawmamma....I just found your comment in my moderation folder so my apologies for the delay in it publishing and my responding:)

Yes...sometimes it IS messy but in the end, like you pointed out, it is also very beautiful!

Good to see you and thank you for joining the discussion!