What does your voice say about you? It depends, right? It depends on your mood, thoughts, and the audience. Some audiences get the quiet voice. Some get the loud, over-reactive voice. Some get the confident expressive voice, and yet others get the intimidated (almost non-verbal) voice.
Did you know that as your thoughts constantly circulate in your mind with traces of both fiction and non-fiction; your voice is formulating a plan of action? What if THIS happens? What if THAT happens? And what if THIS and THAT change my life as I know it? Worry begins to bubble up and your voice is on standby to help you stay true to what you really want.
Sometimes it’s hard to “find your voice” to speak up for yourself, but did you know you can train your voice? That’s right. Just like you exercise your muscles to make them stronger, you can exercise your voice to make it stronger, too. That’s important because your voice can be your greatest advocate that nurtures your healthy relationships and protects you against unhealthy relationships. Your voice can be your greatest weapon, and it can protect you if you trust it enough to help you set your boundaries. The most effective training comes from using your voice with intention.
It’s clear to me that most of us have some work to do when it comes to using our powerful voices in self-protective ways! The intensity, tone, and timing can all strengthen our message. Our voice also expresses demands and the raw truths that are important to us. As you use your powerful voice, all of these things are woven into messages about YOU that you share with your world. Do you like what it’s saying?
Let’s start by training your voice to nurture your healthy relationships. Sometimes your mood activates a flood of emotions, and your voice makes those you love believe you’re taking frustrations out on them. That’s right; those closest to us can get caught in our crossfires of life. When we aren’t aware of our words and how we deliver them, others can quickly become our dumping ground for emotional garbage. Practice training your voice to REPAIR. Practice saying, “I’m sorry,” and mean it. Teach your voice to be respectful. Teach it to forgive. Teach it how to compliment those you love. And, most importantly, teach it to ask members of your tribe for support or a hug when you need one. You may forget this important reality, but you and your voice possess powers to diffuse disappointment by speaking kindness to yourself and others.
Now, let’s focus on the role of your voice in managing unhealthy relationships. We’ve talked about boundaries in previous blogs – boundaries tell others what’s okay with you and what’s NOT okay with you. Well, does it surprise you that your voice is the wingman for your boundaries? Yep, boundaries need and require a strong voice!
There will be the likely scenario when someone pressures you to do something that is not in your best interest; it doesn’t feel “right.” It may be easy to think about what you do or don’t want to do, but it’s much harder to let your voice out to SAY IT loud and clear. Saying “no” is not easy, especially to your friends or peers. That’s why boundaries can be such a struggle. Practice training your voice to be CLEAR and DIRECT. Even when the desire to be accepted echoes within you, you must remember that your voice carries with it velocity and directness to avoid dangerous situations. Let it protect you.
And when it comes to boundaries in romantic relationships, it’s clear that the “hookup culture” coerces many of you into believing that you have to sexualize your way into being loved. You don’t. Remember, you are lovable as you are. Even though “sexy” may get attention, it’s not what makes true love – or even true “likes.” So, give yourself permission to use your confident voice to say, “No”!
Learn to make your own decisions about when you want to say YES and when you want to say NO! Then practice using your voice to make your boundaries clear. Practice saying what you mean and meaning what you say. It’s incredibly empowering when you learn to match heart and soul with voice.
“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” –Winston Churchill
by Dr. Allison Conner, Psychologist in Fresno, CA and member of the Girlology Expert Panel