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Standing Up and Speaking Out: Finding Your Authentic Voice

“Children should be seen and not heard.”

As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. 1 Corinthians 14:34

If you have ever wondered why it is hard to speak up for yourself, the above messages may be a place to start. The family you grew up in the and the community that surrounded you likely played a large part in your ability to have a voice in your world and speak your mind as a woman.

Strict authoritarian parents and caregivers may have silenced your voice as a child. And religious brainwashing can do the same thing. You may have been judged and shamed for speaking your mind and this creates an unsafe environment for a child. And going against strongly held religious beliefs can risk being different and not fitting into the community. In some cases, you may have been physically and emotionally abused for speaking out.

Now that you are an adult you cannot just flip a switch and make this childhood indoctrination go away. Finding your voice as an adult takes courage. It takes the ability to love and trust yourself. Building these skills takes patience and practice. But it is possible to do so.

As a child you had little control or power. But now you have much more influence and strength. I believe this is the first step in finding our voice as an adult. While the experiences you had as a child were painful and possibly abusive and traumatic, you are not in that place anymore. Working through our childhood abuse is the first step. We often need the help of a trained therapist to unpack this abuse. But for many people, including myself and many of my clients, we have had years of therapy and it is still difficult to find our voice.

You will know you’re not using your voice when you feel frustrated or irritable when someone says something or has a request. The irritation and frustration is your inner voice saying, “No I don’t want to do this” or “I’m feeling hurt by what this person is saying”. When you ignore that inner voice and listen to the external or societal expectations of what you should do or be, it makes it harder to find your voice. Recognizing and listening to that inner voice is the first step.

This takes time and practice, so be gentle with yourself.

To help you in this process, Julie Holton at ThinkTank offers these questions:

Ask yourself:

• Am I listening to my inner voice?

• Am I being truthful with myself?

• Am I connecting with myself?

• Am I letting myself be influenced by others?

• Am I walking my own path?

These are questions that honor your inner voice.

Loving and valuing yourself happens in many ways. Speaking up for yourself is an important part of this journey. It doesn't happen quickly or easily. Embracing the concept of being comfortable with being uncomfortable applies here. It is easy to follow the old, comfortable patterns of doing and being who others want you to be. But in the end the question to ask is, do I want to please the outside world, or do I want to love and value myself and become who I am meant to be? Be gentle and patient with yourself on your journey to finding your authentic voice.

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