One of the things I love about hearing other people’s journaling stories is that they often articulate benefits of their practice that I’ve experienced but haven’t put to words before. One such benefit I heard from a client a year ago was that journaling helped her to find and use her voice so she could stand up for herself.
Finding your voice and expressing your deeper needs can be the most powerful final step to take in re-writing your patterned responses to triggers.
Recognizing and taking agency for one’s life is empowering.
And that can only happen when we find and use our voices. To speak up for ourselves in relationships, at work and even (especially challenging for me) at the Doctor’s office is the only way anyone else will ever truly know our needs.
Sometimes, we confuse our roles for our voices. Be it as a child, a sibling, a parent, an entrepreneur, an employee, a spouse, a caretaker; we assume these identities with vigor and often without question. Doing what any “good employee” would do at a great sacrifice to ourselves.
It takes time and effort to tease these things apart and recognize that we are more than the roles we fill. That being a good spouse or a good employee shouldn’t come at such a great sacrifice that your true self is cowering in the corner too paralyzed by fear to simply speak up.
Benjamin Disreali’s words of wisdom serve as a good reminder, “Never apologize for showing your feelings. When you do you apologize for the truth.”
Finding and using your voice doesn’t mean you shout all the obscenities you’re thinking about another person into their face. You can use your voice and draw boundaries with compassion.
And to do that, the first compassionate act just might be acknowledging your own feelings without judgment, shame or ridicule. Then exploring what they mean, what you need and what you can do about it. After all, we do possess the freedom of speech. It’s your choice whether or not you exercise that freedom in meaningful and constructive ways.
Here are five reflection questions I’ve pondered in my journal to find and use my voice:
- What role are you responsible for filling in this situation?
- What are the expectations of the role?
- How do you feel about those expectations?
- What deeper needs do you want to address in this situation?
- How can you best advocate for your deeper needs?
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